The sudden loss of a loved one is always the source of a great deal of pain. Such events can also raise many financial questions for surviving family members. Will the funeral be affordable? Who will support the departed person’s dependents? Is there a way to find justice if another party was at fault for the death?

In Georgia, surviving loved ones have the right to file a wrongful death claim to answer many of these questions. Understanding how wrongful death claims work and who can benefit from a successful claim can help you know what steps to take.

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?

When a person loses their life due to another party’s accidental or deliberate actions, a wrongful death claim allows certain surviving family members to seek compensation for their loss. Some circumstances that might result in a wrongful death claim could be a traffic accident, medical malpractice, a faulty product, or a homicide that caused the death of your loved one.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Georgia?

Unlike many states where only the personal representative of an individual’s will can file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a family, Georgia allows certain surviving family members to do so themselves.


If the decedent was married, the surviving spouse is the only person with the authority to file a wrongful death claim. However, if they had children in common with the decedent, they must also be party to the claim and share any compensation. Yet, regardless of the number of surviving children, the surviving spouse should receive no less than one-third of the financial award.


If the decedent was unmarried at the time of death, any surviving children have the right to jointly file a wrongful death lawsuit. Minor children are also eligible to receive compensation from wrongful death claims, but their share of the award will be placed into a trust until they reach their majority.


If the decedent has living grandchildren but no living children, the grandchildren are entitled to the proportion of the financial award their parents would have had.


In the absence of a spouse, child, or any other dependent, the decedent’s surviving parents may file a claim.

Court-Appointed Personal Representative

If the victim has not left behind any dependents or parents, a court-appointed personal representative may file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of their estate.

What Compensation Can Family Members Receive?

A successful wrongful death claim can compensate family members for expenses relating to their loved one’s death, including funeral and burial expenses, as well as the medical expenses they incurred due to the at-fault party’s actions.

Georgia also allows family members to recover compensation for the “full value of the life” of their loved one. This intangible value can be challenging to calculate, but an experienced Atlanta wrongful death attorney can help you understand how much money you can claim.

Contact W. Winston Briggs Law Firm Today

Losing a loved one is emotionally traumatic. At W. Winston Briggs Law Firm, we believe that you should not have to suffer financially because of your loss as well. Our team understands that no amount of money can make up for your loss. But we also know that holding the at-fault party accountable for their actions can help bring about a sense of justice.

Our attorneys have been fighting for the rights of Georgians for 30 years, and we are ready to stand up for your family, too. Call us today at (404) 522-1500 for a free consultation with an Atlanta wrongful death lawyer.