Understanding Wrongful Death Laws in Georgia

Key Points:

  • If a victim passes away due to an accident, then wrongful death laws will determine who can file a claim and recover compensation for their loved one’s death.
  • Typically, a surviving spouse, children, and parents can recover for the wrongful death of their family member. If no family members are eligible, then the victim’s administrator or executor can bring a claim to benefit the next of kin.
  • In Georgia, you usually have two years from the date of someone’s death to file a wrongful death claim.
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Who Is Entitled to Compensation After a Wrongful Death?


A deceased person’s spouse is the primary person that can file a wrongful death claim. They are the first in line and cannot be overtaken by another party unless they also passed away.

Under Georgia law, a surviving spouse shall receive no less than one-third of a settlement recovery. A surviving boyfriend or girlfriend is not entitled to bring a wrongful death claim.


The children of a decedent can file a claim for wrongful death if there is no surviving spouse. However, the children and the surviving spouse may both be compensated in a wrongful death claim. If any children are born out of wedlock, then they can still be compensated under Georgia law.


If the victim was a minor, the parents are the first party eligible to file a wrongful death claim. Parents who live together and are married would file jointly. When the victim’s parents are divorced or separated, then both parents have the right individually. If either parent is deceased, then the surviving parent has the right to file a claim.

Parents who lose parental power can be disqualified from wrongful death compensation of their minor child. A parent can lose parental control for several reasons, including:

  • Voluntarily releasing parental rights to a third person
  • Consenting to adoption
  • Failing to provide for the child
  • Abandoning the child
  • Consenting to a minor’s marriage

If the deceased victim was over the age of 18, then the parents can only file a wrongful death claim if their adult child had no spouse or children of their own.

Executor or Administrator of an Estate

When no one else is entitled to bring a wrongful death claim, then the administrator or executor of the person who died can bring a claim to benefit the next of kin.

An executor or administrator is typically named in an individual’s will and can be anyone over the age of 18 who is of sound mind. This person is usually someone that the deceased individual entrusted to properly administer their estate upon death.

An executor or administrator has the power to file a wrongful death claim only when no spouse, children, or parents survive the deceased person. A probate court can assign an executor or administrator if there’s not one provided for the deceased person’s estate.

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How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?

Generally, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within two years of an individual’s death. However, this limitation can be extended if there is a pending criminal case or if the deceased person’s estate has not been processed through probate.

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