Deadlines for Georgia Wrongful Death Claims – The Statute of Limitations

Deadlines for Georgia Wrongful Death Claims: The Statute of Limitations 

The statute of limitations is the law that controls how long a party has to bring a lawsuit in the State of Georgia for a wrongful death claim. The statute provides that you have two years from the date of the deceased’s death to bring the claim. O.C.G.A. 9-3-33.

With regard to wrongful death suits arising out of motor vehicle accidents, new case law provides that the statute of limitations is “tolled” during the time in which any criminal charges with respect to the defendant (in the wrongful death case) are pending. In other words, if Driver A negligently operates his motor vehicle, causing the death of Driver B, then the the statute of limitations with respect to Driver B’s wrongful death case “freezes” until any criminal charges arising out of the accident with respect to Driver A are determined by a court. Once Driver A is found guilty or not guilty of whatever charges were filed against him, then the statute of limitations on the wrongful death claim begins to run, so there will be two more years to bring the claim.

There is also a five year tolling provision for the claim of the Estate if it is not probated, meaning that the Estate’s portion of the claim can be brought for up to seven years in some cases.