As a wrongful death attorney in Gwinnett County (Lawrenceville, GA) who takes cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia, a question that comes up from time to time is regarding who may file a wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia. This blog post will review Georgia law on the correct person who may bring a wrongful death lawsuit when a loved one is lost because of the negligence or bad act of another.
Georgia wrongful death statutes:
I will list in this post, in order of the right, who may bring a Georgia wrongful death action. The first applicable statute is O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2. This statute, in laymen's terms, states that the person who may bring a Georgia wrongful death lawsuit is:
1. The surviving spouse.
If person dies and another individual, company, etc. is liable, and the deceased person was married, Georgia law says the surviving spouse may bring the wrongful death lawsuit.
Who may bring a Georgia wrongful death lawsuit if the deceased person was not married?
2. The deceased person's children (including adopted and out-of-wedlock children).
Any child of the deceased person, regardless of age, adoption, or having been born out-of wedlock may bring a Georgia wrongful death lawsuit if there is no surviving spouse. This is also pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2.
Who may bring a Georgia wrongful death action if the deceased person was not married and never had children?
3. The parents of the deceased person.
O.C.G.A. § 51-4-4 directs us to O.C.G.A. § 19-7-1 which states that the parents of a deceased (whether their deceased child is a minor or adult, when their child was not married and never had children) may bring a Georgia wrongful death lawsuit. If the parents live together and are not divorced they jointly have the right to file a Georgia wrongful death suit for their minor or adult child who was not married and never had children. If only one parent is alive then the right is with that parent. If the parents are divorced, separated, or live apart, then both parents have the right. However, if one parent refuses to file suit or cannot be located, then the other parent may contract (hire a Georgia wrongful death attorney) to file suit on behalf of both of them.
Who can file a Georgia wrongful death lawsuit if the deceased person was not married, never had children, and has no surviving parents?
4. The administrator or executor of the deceased's estate.
O.C.G.A. § 51-4-5 allows for the administrator or executor of the deceased's estate to file a Georgia wrongful death lawsuit. The recovery in any such lawsuit must be held for the benefit of the next of kin (for example: if there is no spouse, no child, no parent of the deceased, but three cousins are equally of kin to the deceased and the closest kin to the deceased, they would share equally in any recovery of a Georgia wrongful death suit, which has to be brought by the estate's administrator or executor).
Hopefully this post gives a basic understanding of who may file a Georgia wrongful death lawsuit. These cases can be complex just getting to the point of the correct person to bring suit. They should be handled by a Georgia wrongful death lawyer only.
If you have lost a loved one because of the negligence or bad act of another, please contact Gwinnett County based wrongful death lawyer Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation.
Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. He is licensed to practice law by the State Bar of Georgia and is based in Lawrenceville, one mile down the road from the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. Call him today for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585. The information above is for informational purposes only as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor does the reading of it form an attorney-client relationship. Always consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.