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Wrongful Death

A wrongful death occurs when the wrongful or negligent act of another results in a loss of life. The victim of a wrongful death is referred to as the “decedent.” Wrongful death actions are different from other types of personal injury cases. Unlike other torts claims where the victim files suit against an alleged wrongdoer, the decedent’s estate or a member(s) of the decedent’s family files suit in a wrongful death action.

In Georgia, the cause of action for wrongful death belongs to the surviving spouse. Where there is no surviving spouse, the cause of action belongs to the decedent’s children. O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2(a). If there is neither a spouse nor surviving children, the decedent's parents have the right to file suit. O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2. Where the court awards damages to a decedent’s parents and the parents are divorced or separated, the court maintains the authority to allocate all remedies between the parents as the court sees fit. O.C.G.A. § 19-7-1(c)(6). This allocation depends on pertinent factors determined by the court. For instance, divorced parents may receive disproportionate amounts of the total recovery depending upon the extent of each parent’s involvement in that child’s life. Hall v. Bailey, 560 S.E.2d 76 (Ga. Ct. App. 2002) (approving a settlement apportioning 95% to decedent's mother and 5% to decedent's father, where the mother retained custody of the decedent, paid for everyday care, and maintained a close relationship to the decedent and father had no meaningful relationship to the decedent). Where the decedent is without a surviving spouse, child, or parent, the administrator of the decedent's estate can sue on behalf of the next of kin. O.C.G.A. § 51-4-5. Due to the complex nature of these matters, it is critical that all parties seeking to recover in a wrongful death lawsuit consult an experienced attorney.

Where a party otherwise entitled to bring a wrongful death suit is involved in the death of the decedent, complex legal issues may arise. For instance, where a party’s negligence leads to the wrongful death, that party’s right to recover may be barred. Matthews v. Douberley, 428 S.E.2d 588 (Ga. Ct. App. 1993) (finding that a husband's negligence in the automobile accident that killed his wife precluded recovery of his own damages). Where a minor may be entitled to all or part of a wrongful death recovery, complicated rules determine who can pursue the claim on the minor’s behalf, whether a proposed settlement is lawful, and how any resulting award may be managed. An attorney experienced in wrongful death litigation can explain the intricacies of these matters and help achieve the best possible outcome for the decedent’s family or estate. Law Office of Donald P. Edwardspossess the knowledge, skill, and trial experience to help.

All wrongful death suits must be brought within a specific time provided by the applicable statute of limitations. It is essential that measures be taken promptly to preserve evidence, investigate the accident in question, and to file a lawsuit prior to the deadline imposed by the statute of limitations. If a loved one has been a victim of wrongful death, call Law Office of Donald P. Edwards now at 404-526-8866 or CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A SIMPLE CASE FORM. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to accept your case, we will work on a contingent fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary award or recovery of funds. Don’t delay! You may have a valid claim and be entitled to compensation for your injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires.
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The above is not legal advice. That can only come from a qualified attorney who is familiar with all the facts and circumstances of a particular, specific case and the relevant law. See Terms of Use.

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