If your loved one has recently passed, we offer our sincere condolences. Losing a loved one is tragic, but at some point, the living must go on living. This means educating yourself regarding your family’s legal rights in order to make a full recovery on behalf of your loved one.
If your loved one’s death was caused by the negligence of another, who is entitled to make a claim? A claim may include include funeral expenses, medical expenses, pain and suffering before your loved one’s death, and the value of your loved one’s life that has been cut short?
To understand who can make a claim, we must first understand that Georgia law allows two different claims following a wrongful death: one is just referred to as a “wrongful death claim”, and the other is referred to as an “estate claim” or “survival claim”. The same person can bring both claims, but this isn’t necessarily the case.
Wrongful Death Claim
Under Georgia law, this claim belongs to the loved one’s spouse and children. See OCGA § 51-4-2. If the loved one had no spouse or children during their life, the loved one’s parents are entitled to make the claim. See OCGA § 19-7-1. Finally, if no spouse, children, or parents are alive, the court can appoint an administrator or executor to make the claim. See OCGA § 51-4-5. Relatives such as a sibling, uncle, aunt, or grandparent have no right to prosecute the wrongful death case.
We will discuss this in further detail in another blog. However, generally, a wrongful death claim includes recovery for the value of your loved one’s life had he or she not died prematurely.
The administrator of your loved one’s estate is the party entitled to make claims for funeral, medical, and other necessary expenses and any claim for pain and suffering before death. OCGA § 51-4-5.
If you have any questions about who can make a wrongful death claim on behalf of your loved one, please call us. We have provided a very general overview, but many details and complications come up when applying these rules in real life.