I see unusual and tragic facts patterns quite often and recently we analyzed an unusual potential case for a client. The mother of a Georgia woman contacted us to see whether we could bring a claim on behalf of her deceased daughter against the daughter’s deceased husband. The husband negligently crashed the car the unlucky couple was riding in and killed them both. The short answer is “yes”, although there are some practical limitations on what can be done with such a case.
Normally in Georgia, a spouse may not sue a spouse for personal injury because there is spousal immunity. This rule exists to protect the sanctity of marriage. However, when one spouse dies, the public interest in preserving the marriage no longer has the same power. In the case of Jones v. Jones 259 Ga. 49, 376 S.E.2d 674 (1989), the daughter brought a wrongful death suit against the wife who had killed the father. The father’s insurance lawyers argued that spousal immunity barred the suit but the Court ruled that when the spouse is dead, the spousal immunity prohibition has no real purpose and violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
Although no one wants to see a family fracture in a hailstorm of litigation, where there is negligence and separate family interests in the two estates, a wrongful death attorney can bring the claim.