The hardest type of case for any personal injury attorney in Atlanta to file is a wrongful death suit. We meet clients who are going through one of the hardest times in their lives. They’re sad and angry. They want somebody to pay but they don’t want to come across as greedy. Every one of the wrongful death clients we have represented over the years would trade their settlement award for one more day with their loved ones.
As much as we dislike talking about money damages with someone who has just lost a loved one, it has to be done. The only way to get justice for the deceased is to pursue damages against the responsible party. In most cases, you’re not really going after the other individual. You’re actually suing their insurance company. However, that doesn’t make it any easier.
The other thing that makes wrongful death cases hard is that only certain people can file one. Here, we’ll talk about who has standing to sue for wrongful death. We’ll also briefly discuss the damages you can demand if you are eligible to file suit. If you still have questions after reading this article, don’t hesitate to contact our office. Let one of our Atlanta wrongful death lawyers review your case and let you know how best to proceed.
What Does “Standing to Sue” Mean?
Some people think they can sue another person for the strangest things. For example, we have people call our office all the time asking if they can sue their neighbor for spying on them. Or they think they can sue their employer for wrongful termination even though Georgia is an at-will state.
In order to file a lawsuit against someone, you need to have standing. Standing simply means that you are legally allowed to sue somebody. When it comes to wrongful death, only certain people standing to sue. This group is very small and, if you aren’t included in that group, your only option is to go through somebody else.
Georgia Only Allows Certain People to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
For some reason, people think they can sue for wrongful death regardless of their relation to the deceased. This isn’t true. Every state has its own rules about who has standing to sue for wrongful death.
In Georgie, there is a limited number of people who are allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit. These include:
- The decedent’s spouse – Not surprisingly, the victim’s spouse is always allowed to sue for wrongful death. It doesn’t matter how long you have been married. If your husband or wife dies, you absolutely have the right to sue for wrongful death.
- Children of the victim – If there is no surviving spouse, the children have standing to sue. It doesn’t matter if you are their natural child or adopted.
- Parents – If there is no surviving spouse or children, the parents have the right to sue for wrongful death.
- Estate representative – The personal representative of the decedent’s estate has standing to sue if the victim left no surviving spouse, children, or parents.
If you don’t fall into one of these categories and wish to pursue legal action, you have options. You can convince any of the above family members to sue instead. You can also petition the representative of the estate to sue as well. If you aren’t sure if you have standing, you can always call an Atlanta wrongful death lawyer.
Your Atlanta Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Demand Damages on Your Behalf
When you sue for wrongful death, you can demand two different types of damages. The first kind of damages is financial losses. For example, you can demand compensation for the income your loved one won’t be able to earn. You can also demand compensation for any property damage they suffered. Essentially, you can demand anything the victim could have demanded had they survived the accident.
The second type of damages you can demand is non-economic damages. This is where your own losses come into play. These damages have little to do with the deceased. The different damages you can demand in your wrongful death lawsuit include the following:
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Loss of companionship
- Emotional grief
- Loss of consortium
None of these things have a dollar amount attached to them. It’s up to your Atlanta wrongful death lawyer to prove how much you’re entitled to.
What if the Personal Representative Refused to Sue?
It can be frustrating to learn that you don’t have standing to sue on behalf of your loved one. Just because you weren’t their immediate family, that doesn’t mean you didn’t love them. It doesn’t mean you aren’t suffering as a result of their being killed. For example, if you’re engaged to marry the victim, it feels like you should be eligible to file for wrongful death. The same is true if it’s your sister or brother. For some reason, the Georgia courts have decided to limit the number of people who can file suit.
If you really want to sue and the personal representative of the decedent’s estate refuses, there isn’t much you can do. There’s nothing your personal injury lawyer in Atlanta can do. Unfortunately, if you don’t have standing to sue, there is little left for you to do.
Contact an Atlanta Wrongful Death Lawyer if You Have Any Questions
If you’ve recently lost a loved one in any sort of accident, you’re dealing with a lot of emotions. Above anything else, there will be grief and sadness. At the same time, if someone else is responsible for their death, you’re also going to be angry. As much as you should never let anger fuel you, in this situation, this advice doesn’t apply. You should call an experienced Atlanta wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible.
If you aren’t sure if you have standing to sue, that’s okay. Come on in for your free, initial consultation and find out. Our personal injury attorneys in Atlanta have decades of combined experience handling these types of cases. They can answer any questions you may have. They can also explain how the process works.
If you learn that you don’t have standing to do, you have very few options. You can ask the people who do have standing to sue if they want to move forward with legal action. However, if this doesn’t work, you’ll have to accept the fact that you cannot file suit in Georgia.