Have you had a family member die in a car accident on Highway 78?
If so, you may be wondering whether you can sue the at-fault driver. The answer? It depends. Please see below the breakdown on who can bring wrongful death lawsuits in Georgia.
THE FOLLOWING PEOPLE CAN BRING A WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT IN GEORGIA:
- The spouse of the deceased.
- If there is no spouse, the child or children of the deceased.
- If there is no spouse or children, then the parents of the deceased.
- If there is no spouse, children, or parents, then the administrator or executor of the deceased’s estate.
WHAT IF THE DECEASED LEAVES BEHIND BOTH A SPOUSE AND CHILDREN?
If the deceased has a surviving spouse and children, then any recovery must be split equally, but if there are more than two children, the surviving spouse must get 1/3 of the recovery.
For example, if the deceased leaves behind a wife and one child, then the wife and child split the recovery 50/50. If the deceased leaves behind a wife and two children, then each surviving family member receives 1/3 of the recovery. If the deceased leaves behind a wife and three or more children, then the wife receives 1/3 of the recovery, and the children have to split the remaining 2/3 of the recovery equally.
WHAT IF A CHILD DIES AND THE PARENTS ARE NOT MARRIED? WHO CAN BRING THE LAWSUIT AND HOW IS THE SETTLEMENT PAID OUT?
Each parent has the right to bring the lawsuit. However, if one parent refuses to proceed or cannot be located to proceed to recover for the wrongful death of the child, the other parent shall have the right to bring the lawsuit.
If no issue is raised with the distribution of the settlement, then the settlement must be divided equally between the parents. However, if one of the parents is absent from the lawsuit and two years have passed from the date of any settlement and the absent parent has not requested any payment, the parent who brought the lawsuit can petition the court for the settlement funds, and the settlement funds, under appropriate court order, shall be paid over to the parent who brought the lawsuit.
Before settlement or trial is reached, each parent has the right to bring a motion with the court that requests the judge to apportion fairly any settlement or judgment amounts in the case. A hearing shall be conducted by the judge at which each parent shall have the opportunity to be heard and to produce evidence regarding that parent’s relationship with the deceased child. The judge shall then fairly decide the percentage to be awarded to each parent. In making such a decision, the judge shall consider each parent’s relationship with the deceased child, including permanent custody, control, and support, as well as any other factors found to be pertinent.
So for example, if one of the parents is completely absent from the child’s life, but then comes out of nowhere to try and claim half of the settlement or judgment, the other parent can bring a motion to request the court award damages in proportion to the parent’s relationship with the child.
CONTACT BARTLETT BENTON
If you have had a loved one killed in a car, truck, or bus accident on Highway 78 in Georgia, please call Bartlett at 770-365-6414 for a free case evaluation.