Can Wrongful Death Survivors Be Non-Family Members?

by Matthew Hennesy on Jul. 31, 2017

Accident & Injury Wrongful Death Accident & Injury  Slip & Fall Accident Accident & Injury  Car Accident 

Summary: Wrongful death cases are traumatic and difficult for those left behind, but survivors can be entitled to compensation.

Wrongful death cases are traumatic and difficult for those left behind. When your loved one passes away because someone else behaved in an irresponsible or negligent manner, you feel an array of emotions and do not know where to begin. You know you deserve to be compensated for your loss, to collect damages for the mounting bills and the pain and suffering, but you are not sure if you qualify for benefits.

Many people wonder if they can be wrongful death survivors if they are not family of the deceased. Learn about what constitutes a wrongful death survivor in Georgia, who can file suit, and what benefits can be collected when you lose a non-family loved one.

Who Can Be a Wrongful Death Survivor

In Georgia, there is a strict hierarchy that determines who qualifies as a wrongful death survivor after a person dies due to the negligence or deliberate acts of another. The primary people who are qualified to file a case are the surviving spouse and children, who split any awards, with 1/3 going to the spouse and the remainder split amongst children.

If there is no spouse or children, any surviving parents of the deceased may bring a case for wrongful death. If there are no surviving parents, the responsibility for claim then passes onto the Estate, and must be filed by a designated personal representative. This representative need not be a relative.

Non-Family and Wrongful Death Benefits

If the case for wrongful death is brought by the Estate, any proceeds that are collected in damages go back to the Estate. They are then distributed to any surviving next of kin according to probate law. The probate process can be complicated, and proceeds under probate can go to a variety of individuals according to need or the wishes of the deceased.

Damages Recovered

In a wrongful death case, there are two general categories of damages that can be collected. The first are those damages related to the value of the deceased life. These include wages and compensation, including potential future earnings of the deceased. It also includes damages for lost support and companionship suffered by the surviving kin.

The second kinds of damages are those in relation to expenses related to the death itself. These incurred expenses include funeral and burial expenses, medical expenses resulting from the accident and leading up to the death, and the pain and suffering experienced by the deceased during that time. These damages make up what is known as the estate portion of the claim.

Statute of Limitations

One important thing to remember is that Georgia has a two-year statute of limitations on wrongful death suits. The clock begins ticking on the date of death, and the estate has two years from that time to file. Though less common, there can be issues that will delay the statute. For example, if the negligent party is facing criminal charges, a criminal trial can delay the statute of limitations while it goes on.

Pursuing Wrongful Death Claims

It is important, when pursuing a wrongful death claim, to have the right representation. These claims can be very difficult to pursue and require a great deal of evidence to be presented and defended. The wrongful death lawyers at Farrar, Hennesy and Tanner, LLC have been in business protecting injured people in Georgia since 1949.

We have collected millions in awards for our clients in our 68 years, and we can help you as well. If you are facing a wrongful death case in Georgia and need legal help, we have the experience, skills, knowledge and compassion to help you get the compensation you deserve for the estate and survivors. Get in touch with us online, or give us a call for a discussion of the details of your case, and to get started today.

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