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By Jarome Gautreaux

Several laws govern wrongful death claims in Georgia regarding who may file a claim, what damages are recoverable, and how fault is defined in cases where the victim is partially at fault. 

Wrongful death in Georgia is considered a death caused by the negligent, reckless, intentional, or criminal acts of another person or entity. Some examples of these are deaths resulting from car accidents, medical malpractice, criminal acts, work-related incidents, and more. By statute, the right to file a wrongful death claim in Georgia is generally limited to certain family members. The spouse of the deceased has the primary right to file the claim. If there is no spouse, the right falls to the children; if there are no children, then the deceased’s parents can file the claim. If no relatives are available, the executor of the deceased’s estate may be able file the claim.

Two main types of claims can be made in a wrongful death case: 1) The “full value of the life of the deceased,” which includes tangible factors like lost wages and benefits, as well as intangible factors like the loss of care, companionship, and other elements of the relationship, and 2) The financial costs associated with the injury leading to death, like medical expenses related to the final injury or illness, funeral and burial expenses, and pain and suffering experienced by the deceased before they died.

Georgia generally follows the modified comparative fault rule, which means that if the victim is found to be partially at fault for the incident leading to their death, the total amount of damages awarded can be reduced by the percentage of the victim’s fault. However, if the victim’s fault is 50% or more, the family may not be able to recover damages. In cases where the victim was partially at fault, the law in Georgia will generally result in a reduction of the amount of compensation to the family in proportion to the victim’s percentage of fault. For example, if a court determines that the deceased was 30% at fault for the accident that led to their death, any damages awarded may be reduced by 30%.

There is a statute of limitations within which a party needs to file their wrongful death claim in Georgia. Typically, the time limit statute is two years from the deceased person’s death date. However, there can be exceptions depending on the case’s specifics, such as in criminal cases or certain types of medical malpractice.

Due to the complexity of wrongful death claims, it is often advisable for families to seek legal representation. An experienced attorney can help navigate the legal system, establish fault, even if the victim was partially responsible, and ensure that the family receives fair compensation.It is important to note that each wrongful death case is unique, and a qualified attorney who becomes familiar with the case can provide specific legal advice. Gautreaux Law has experienced attorneys who can consult with you to determine if you have a cause of action, especially if the deceased individual also had responsibility for the accident. Contact our office for a complimentary initial consultation.

About the Author
Jarome Gautreaux is a personal injury trial lawyer. He represents people who have been seriously injured, as well as the families of people killed because of carelessness or negligence. For over 20 years, he has successfully recovered more than 100 million dollars in a variety of Macon personal injury cases. Jarome’s reputation for client focus and case success has led to other lawyers requesting his assistance with complex personal injury litigation. What drives Jarome every day is his strong belief that the amount of money someone has should not dictate the justice they receive. It is for this reason that he has never worked for corporations, insurance companies, or other interest groups. Instead, he thrives on helping the people who need it most- people who have suffered at the hands of others and deserve compensation.