Standing in Wrongful Death Actions

Losing a loved one is a tragic and devastating encounter. Many experience a range of difficult emotions during the days, weeks, and months following a death. These feelings are normal and are an essential part of the grieving process.

Coping with a loved one’s death is especially difficult when the death was not anticipated. In instances in which a death was the result of an accident or incident, there are often additional stressors due to the financial fallout. The attorneys at 1Georgia Injury Lawyers, PLLC, realize that no amount of money can heal the pain from the loss of a loved one. However, we can evaluate your case to determine whether you may receive compensation for many expenses such as medical costs, loss of future income, expenses associated with a person’s death, loss of consortium, and/or punitive damages.

In all wrongful death actions, a determination must be made with regard to standing. Standing refers to the ability of a particular person to initiate a lawsuit. In order to have standing there must be a sufficient connection under the law.

Standing on Behalf of a Spouse or Parent

In Georgia, the law provides that the following individuals may institute a cause of action against another in wrongful death cases involving a spouse or parent:

Surviving Spouse: The state of Georgia permits a surviving spouse to initiate a wrongful death action. In fact, if a surviving spouse exists, they are the only individuals who have standing to file the wrongful death claim.

Children: Generally, a child is only permitted to initiate a suit if there is no surviving spouse. If there is no surviving spouse, the court permits a child or any number of children to initiate a claim to recover for the homicide of a parent.

Family members and other individuals: The statute does not permit family members and other individuals to file a claim for wrongful death.

There have been instances in which the person who initiated the wrongful death action dies while litigation is pending. In these instances, the action survives as to the child or children. When a child dies after the initiation of a wrongful death suit, any surviving child may proceed with litigation.

Standing on Behalf of a Child

In wrongful death cases, parents often seek legal advice regarding potential claims. However, they are not given priority. In cases in which a surviving spouse or child exists, a parent may not initiate a suit. If no spouse or child exists, then parents have a claim. Under these circumstances, parents living together and not divorced have the joint right to initiate a claim. If either parent is deceased, the right shall be in the surviving parent. If the parents have divorced or separated both parents may initiate a claim. If one parent refuses to act or cannot be located, the other parent has the authority to act on behalf of both parents.

Recovery by Personal Representative for Wrongful Death and for Certain Expenses

In circumstances in which no individual has standing to initiate a claim, the statute permits an administrator or executor to bring an action. However, the administrator or executor must hold any funds recovered for the benefit of the next of kin.

Call Today for Legal Advice

If you have lost a loved one and there is a suspicion of wrongdoing contact a wrongful death attorney at 1Georgia Injury Lawyers, PLLC. Our attorneys have the knowledge and experience to investigate the specific facts, evaluate your claim, and seek justice on your behalf.