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What is the Difference Between a Georgia Personal Injury Claim and a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?


When a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in a motor vehicle collision or in another type of accident in Georgia, it can be difficult to consider the possibility of filing a lawsuit. We know that the grieving process takes time and that the idea of jumping into a lawsuit can feel nearly impossible when you are grappling with a family member’s debilitating or fatal injuries. Yet we also know how critical it is to seek the financial compensation that your family needs in the aftermath of a catastrophic accident, and to hold the liable party accountable for their actions.

Should you file a personal injury lawsuit or a wrongful death claim?

Personal Injury Lawsuit Versus Wrongful Death Claim

If you have started looking into the possibility of filing a lawsuit, you might have come across information about both personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death claims in Georgia, and you are likely wondering about the difference between these types of claims. The basic difference is that personal injury lawsuits are filed by the injured party while wrongful death claims are brought by a close surviving family member. Yet there are additional distinctions, and we want to make sure you have a better understanding of the type of case you likely should file and what you should expect.

Who Files the Lawsuit?

Personal injury law and wrongful death law are closely related in that both allow a person to file a civil lawsuit against the at-fault or negligent party. However, personal injury lawsuits are filed by the person who was injured, which means that person must still be living in order to file a claim. If the injury victim ultimately succumbs to his or her injuries, or if fatal injuries occur immediately in a truck accident or another type of accident, then a close family member can be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Under Georgia wrongful death law, the surviving spouse of the deceased is the first person who is eligible to file a wrongful death claim. If the surviving spouse and the deceased have minor children, then the surviving spouse will also represent the children in filing the wrongful death lawsuit. If there is no surviving spouse, the surviving children can file a wrongful death lawsuit. If the deceased does not have a surviving spouse or children, then the surviving parents of the deceased can be eligible to file a claim. If there are no surviving parents, then a personal representative of the deceased’s estate must file the claim.

Timetable for Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Lawsuits 

Both personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits have a two-year statute of limitations, but the clock on these claims begins to tick at different times. In a personal injury lawsuit, the clock on that two-year time window will begin on the date the injury occurred. In a wrongful death lawsuit, the clock on the two-year time window will begin on the date of the deceased’s death. As such, in a wrongful death claim, even if the injured person lives for a number of months (or longer) with his or her injuries but later succumbs to them, the clock on the wrongful death lawsuit will not begin “ticking” until the date of the death.

Seek Advice from a Personal Injury Lawyer in Marietta 

If you have questions about filing a personal injury lawsuit or a wrongful death claim, one of our experienced Marietta personal injury attorneys can assist you. Contact The Strickland Firm today for more information.

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