When a loved one dies, it’s always hard. The situation becomes tragic, however, when the death was related to someone else’s negligent, reckless or criminal actions and was otherwise wholly preventable. When that happens, you may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim.
Wrongful death claims essentially empower a victim’s survivors to bring a lawsuit against the culpable party, much like a living victim can pursue a personal injury claim. In Georgia, there are some basic rules that have to be followed:
- Most wrongful death claims have to be brought within two years of the victim’s death (due to the statute of limitations). There are exceptions, however. If the victim’s estate has not gone through probate, the clock on the statute of limitations can be paused for up to five years. If the liable party is involved in a criminal case, the clock can be paused for up to six years.
- Only certain people have the right to bring a wrongful death claim. Typically, that right goes first to a surviving spouse, then any children and then to the deceased’s parents. If none of those people are eligible to file, the administrator of the victim’s estate may file the claim on its behalf.
Why are wrongful death claims necessary?
Sometimes the party responsible for another’s death cannot be charged with any kind of crime. Either there isn’t enough evidence to support a prosecution or the blame falls on something like a defective piece of equipment or a medical device. Even if the law does allow for criminal charges, that won’t benefit the family of the deceased or help ease their financial losses.
If your loved one died needlessly, find out more about your options for a wrongful death claim.