Understanding Wrongful Death: What It Is and How It Works
When the loss of a loved one is caused by someone else’s negligence or intentional wrongdoing, it is considered a wrongful death. Wrongful death is a legal concept that allows the surviving family members the ability to seek recourse.
Wrongful Death in Georgia
Under Georgia law, wrongful death occurs when a person’s death is caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another person or entity. This can include a variety of situations, such as car accidents, medical malpractice, or criminal activity.
The purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit is to provide compensation to the surviving family members of the deceased person for the losses they have suffered as a result of the death. These losses may include the loss of the deceased person’s financial support, companionship, and other benefits they would have provided if they had not died.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?
To bring a wrongful death claim in Georgia, the plaintiff must be the deceased person’s surviving spouse, child, or parent. If no surviving family members fit this criterion, the deceased person’s estate may bring the claim. Additionally, the lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of death.
How Do You Prove Wrongful Death?
To hold another party responsible in a wrongful death claim requires proving that their negligent or reckless actions were what caused it. That involves demonstrating the following four elements of negligence:
Duty of Care
The defendant (at-fault party) had a legal obligation to exercise a reasonable level of care toward the deceased person. For example, if the wrongful death occurred due to a car accident, that at-fault driver had a duty of care to follow traffic rules and drive safely on the road.
Breach of Duty
The defendant breached their duty of care by failing to take reasonable precautions or by acting in a way that is below the expected standard of care—for example, a driver who runs a red light and causes a fatal accident.
The defendant’s breach of duty directly caused or contributed to the death of the deceased person. In other words, the victim would not have died but for the defendant’s actions or lack thereof.
The death of the deceased resulted in damages, such as medical expenses, funeral costs, loss of income, and pain and suffering. Damages may also include the loss of the deceased person’s companionship, guidance, and support to surviving family members.
Do You Need a Lawyer to Pursue a Wrongful Death Case?
While you do not need an attorney to pursue a wrongful death case, it is highly recommended to seek the assistance of a qualified Atlanta Wrongful Death Lawyer. Wrongful death cases are complex; a lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and options. They will provide guidance and support throughout the legal process. Additionally, an attorney will gather evidence, build a strong case, negotiate with insurance companies, and represent you in court if necessary.