It is hard to function, mentally and physically, after a loved one has died. If the death occurred because of a car accident, anger and frustration begin to build. And so do the questions. What happened? Who caused it? What do I do now?

The answers will come eventually. But if your loved one died from someone else’s negligent actions, the answers become more involved and more emotionally charged. Getting money from the tragic incident may not be forefront in your mind. But it will help you and your family to pay medical, funeral and living expenses. To receive any type of monetary compensation, you may need to file a wrongful death suit.

  1. What is wrongful death?

Georgia state law defines “wrongful death” as the death of a person caused by negligence or criminal actions. Negligence is the breach of the duty of care, resulting in harm to another person.

Both criminal and civil courts may bring cases against the defendant. Criminal courts can impose fines and jail time. Civil courts may give compensation to the victim’s family.

  1. Who can sue for wrongful death?

Georgia Code 51-4-2 lists those who can file a claim:

  • The surviving spouse
  • If no surviving spouse, a child or children
  • If neither of those, then the victim’s living parents
  • If no one survives the victim, the administrator of the victim’s estate
  1. What do you have to prove?

To receive compensation, the plaintiffs must prove the following elements:

  • The defendant had a duty of care
  • The defendant breached the duty of care by negligence or reckless behavior
  • The negligent or reckless actions cause the death
  • The family’s losses are measurable

There is a statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death suit. A statute of limitations is the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit. In a wrongful death case, this is two years. But the time may warrant an extension if the court charges the defendant with a criminal offense.