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Who Can Assert the Rights of a Deceased Accident Victim?

Legal action is usually one of the last things on the minds of those who have recently lost a family member to an accident or other unexpected injury. However, the economic realities of losing a loved one can quickly become difficult to ignore. This is why it is important to act quickly after the death of a loved one and to understand who bears the right and responsibility to bring legal action.

Georgia’s wrongful death law appears in Title 51 of the Georgia Code. It sets forth who may bring an action for the wrongful death of another and how the proceeds of such an action should be allocated to the surviving family:

  • The surviving spouse is the first person entitled to bring a suit for wrongful death. If successful, the proceeds are dividing evenly among the spouse and any surviving children. However, if the deceased had more than two children, the spouse must receive at least one third of the proceeds.
  • If there is no surviving spouse, a child of the deceased may bring suit, or the child’s guardian if the child is a minor.
  • If there is no surviving spouse or children, the parents of the deceased may bring suit.
  • If there is no surviving spouse, no children and no parents, the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate is entitled to bring an action. Any proceeds are distributed in the same manner as the rest of the estate property.
  • In all cases involving negligence, the personal representative may seek reimbursement of funeral, medical and administrative expenses.

It can be very hard to consider legal action during such a difficult time as the loss of a loved one. By contacting an experienced Georgia wrongful death attorney, you can remove some of this responsibility from your shoulders without forfeiting the rights of yourself and your family.