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Who Can File A Wrongful Death Claim

In this video, attorney Theodore A. Spaulding reviews the requirements for filing a wrongful death claim in Georgia. He explains the levels of consideration required and which parties hold the most decision-making power. 

Who can file a wrongful death claim in Georgia?

Keep watching this video to find out.

Hi. I’m Theodore Spaulding. I’m Atlanta personal injury trial lawyer and I am the founder here at Spaulding Injury Law.

So this is a really important question in wrongful death cases. Who’s got the claim? The injured party, unfortunately, has died, so they obviously can’t bring the claim themselves, right? So what Georgia has done is set up a statutory scheme that lists, in order of importance, of who has the claim and you, kind of, go down that list. If you don’t have the first person, you go to the second. If the second person isn’t there, you go to the third.

And so naturally, it all starts with spouse. If the deceased was married at the time of the incident, then the spouse is the one that has the ultimate claim rights. Okay, now, the spouse has it along with any children. So that’s very important. The spouse can’t just file this claim, prosecute it, receive a settlement or a verdict from a jury, and not have compensation available for the children of the deceased. Okay? So that’s really important to know. So it’s not a race to the courthouse for that reason.

So the first level would be spouse and any children. Okay? So the spouse would be the one to do it for the children, obviously, certainly, if they’re minors. If they’re not minors, the children can come in separately. But typically, there’s not a need to do that. If you’ve got the spouse, the children are involved, everybody gets along, can pursue it together. Then if there is no spouse, it’s the children. If there are no children involved, okay, then it would go to parents. So just like spouse and children, if you fall down to the parent level, then it is one or both of the parents, all right, can pursue the claim. So mom and dad or mom or dad can pursue it and have that claim going forward. And then it goes down from there.

If you don’t have any parents that are living, then you’re going down further. It’s almost like estate planning. You’re going down the kinship route, you know. Then do you have siblings of the deceased, okay? Do you have other next of kin? And you, kind of, keep going down. Normally, you get to spouse, children. Rare, no spouse, no children, it’d be parents. Obviously, when you have an unfortunate event of a child who dies, then it will be parents, right, because they’re not married yet. They don’t have children of their own. But with adults, it’s hard…typically, you’re not going to get past the spouse or living children.

So got to look at that statute, got to follow it, got to make sure the proper party or parties are pursuing that wrongful death claim.

All right. The other is the estate. The estate always has a claim, but it’s not a wrongful death claim, so that, I’ve got other videos and articles on that. That is a distinction that everyone needs to know and you’ve got to have a wrongful death lawyer that knows what they’re doing to know the difference between the wrongful death claim and the claim that the estate may have, two totally separate claims. So be careful with all these steps in your wrongful death claim.

So anyway, I hope this answers your question. If you have any others or if you have a claim or case that you’d like to see if my firm can handle, please reach out to me. Comment on this video below. Go to my website, spauldinginjurylaw.com. We have a contact form on there, fill it out, we’ll reach back out to you. Or give me a phone call, I’ve got two phone numbers for you: 770-744-0890 and 470-695-9950. Thanks for watching this video.

For over 15 years, Mr. Spaulding has helped victims of negligence across the state of Georgia resolve personal injury disputes, and he’s received a remarkable number of awards and honors from the legal community recognizing his commitment to clients and to the metro-Atlanta area.

As an undergraduate, Mr. Spaulding belonged to the Phi Beta Kappa honors fraternity at the University of Georgia, and he obtained his legal training at the Georgia State College of Law, where he clerked for the Honorable Judge Rowland Barnes of the Fulton County Superior Court. Mr. Spaulding has also worked for the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Atlanta Enforcement Division. Since 2005, he has dedicated his career to helping the injured victims of negligence and their loved ones win justice in Georgia’s personal injury courts.