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Who is Allowed to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

If a loved one has passed away due to someone else’s negligence, you may have the right to file a wrongful death claim. The lawsuits exist to compensate the family members of people who died because of another person’s actions.

However, not just anyone can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Only specific beneficiaries, who are usually people with a close relationship to the deceased, may take this action. Examples of beneficiaries include:

  • Immediate family members, such as spouses, natural or adopted children and parents of children who have not married or had children of their own
  • Distant family members, such as siblings or grandparents of unmarried children without children of their own
  • Parents of a deceased fetus
  • Domestic partners
  • Anyone who financially depends on the victim or suffers financially due to the victim’s death

Spouses and children have first priority to file a wrongful death lawsuit, but if none are living, the right to file the claim passes on to members of the next class of beneficiaries. However, the next class of beneficiaries is not allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit if spouses or children opt to not file. Their decision is final.

As with any other case involving the need to prove negligence, you must be able to show the defendant owed your loved one a duty of care and breached that duty somehow, causing the situation that led to the individual’s death. For example, if a relative was killed in a car accident caused by a person who ran a red light, that traffic violation would show the defendant was negligent, which ultimately led to the injury and death.

For further guidance on filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia, work with the trusted Atlanta attorneys at McMenamy Law LLC.