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Can a Child Bring a Wrongful Death Case in Georgia on Behalf of a Deceased Parent?

By Butler Prather LLP on June 13, 2022

A child losing a parent due to the careless or negligent actions of another individual or entity is a tragedy. When a wrongful death occurs in Georgia, individuals are often able to file lawsuits to recover compensation for the losses. In this state, the spouse of the deceased is the first person who has the right to bring a wrongful death claim. However, if there is no surviving spouse, the surviving children of a deceased individual can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Here, we want to examine the specific language of Georgia’s wrongful death law and discuss the types of compensation children may be able to recover.

What The Law Says

When we examine O.C.G.A. § 51-4-2, the Georgia law that outlines these claims, we can see that the wrongful death wall in this state shows that the family of a person who lost their life can file a claim for “the full value of the life of the decedent.”

Children are a part of a person’s family. State law says that the surviving spouse of the deceased has the first right to file a claim for wrongful death. However, if there is no surviving spouse, then any surviving children are allowed to file a wrongful death claim for the loss of their parent.

Can a Minor Child File a Lawsuit?

Perhaps the biggest roadblock for a child in these situations could be the fact that they are under the age of 18 when their parents lost their life. Yes, both adult and minor children have the option to file a lawsuit if their parent lost their life due to another individual or entity’s negligence. In the event the child is a minor, the lawsuit will have to be filed on their behalf by an adult.

Typically, a surviving parent would be responsible for filing the wrongful death claim. As we mentioned above, a person’s spouse has the first right to file a wrongful death claim, but there may be times when the individual was not married or no longer married. In this case, the surviving parent could still file the wrongful death claim on behalf of the minor child.

In other circumstances, the executor of the deceased parent’s estate could also file the lawsuit on behalf of the minor child. In the event there are no parents, or if there is not an executor to file the claim, the holder of a power of attorney for the child could carry out the lawsuit on behalf of the child.

Types of Compensation Recoverable

There may be a range of compensation available to children of deceased parents. In general, there will likely be less compensation available for adult children because they no longer have to rely on their parents for financial support. When we examine these cases, the most significant damages will come from situations where a minor loses their parent.

In these situations, if a person loses their primary caregiver as a result of the negligence of another, they would be able to seek compensation for the income that parent is no longer able to provide, lost inheritance, retirement savings, or health insurance, and a range of other economic losses.

Additionally, individuals should be able to recover compensation for non-economic losses, such as the loss of a parent’s contribution to their life. This includes the loss of emotional support, parental guidance, love, and more.

Posted in: Wrongful Death

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