Wrongful Death: Proving Liability in the Case

Fewer things are more devastating than losing a loved one to wrongful death. Wrongful death is a fatality caused by another person’s or party’s negligent actions. According to the CDC, over 200,000 people died from unintentional injuries in 2020 in the United States. It is essential to understand your rights after a tragic accident that has resulted in the death of a loved one.

Filing a lawsuit may seem overwhelming when you are mourning. A personal injury attorney in Atlanta can help you hold the responsible party accountable if you lose a loved one from wrongful death. They will fight for the compensation you deserve and do everything they can to make the process as painless as possible.

Your attorney will gather evidence to establish the negligent party’s show liability in a wrongful death claim. Call Bethune Law Firm LLC to schedule a free consultation if unsure whether you have grounds to pursue a wrongful death claim. Keep reading to learn how to prove liability in a Bethune Law wrongful death claim.

Proving Wrongful Death in Atlanta, GA

According to local state laws, the surviving deceased person’s family or legal heirs have the right to pursue a wrongful death claim in Georgia. The primary aim of a wrongful death lawsuit is to seek financial damages for the victim’s heirs. Monetary compensation for damages covers medical bills not yet paid in full, funeral expenditures, and the emotional anguish of losing a loved one. The spouse or children of the deceased may also seek monetary support.

Georgia laws state that civil lawsuits must prove that the deceased died because of the misconduct of others. To establish that the defendant is liable for the injuries and eventual death, your wrongful death attorney must prove four crucial components:

  • Duty
  • Breach of duty
  • Causation
  • Damages

Duty

The defendant must have owed the deceased a duty of care. Due care means the obligation to avoid putting another person in danger. You can only file a wrongful death suit if the defendant is obliged to ensure the deceased person’s safety.

Suppose the deceased was a passenger or driver killed because the defendant was driving recklessly despite having a legal obligation to ensure the safety of other road users. In this case, the recklessness caused multiple deaths. The deceased would still be alive today if the defendant had been driving safely or within the law.

Breach of Duty

After establishing that the defendant owed the decedent duty, the plaintiff must show that this duty was violated. Courts may find the defendant guilty of reckless driving if evidence shows that they ran a red light or ignored a railroad crossing sign. Because this is a civil case and not a criminal one, the plaintiff has the burden of proof.

Proving Causation   

The plaintiff must show that the defendant’s breach of duty caused the plaintiff’s injuries or death. The defendant’s negligence must have caused the death if the crash was a motor vehicle accident. The evidence you present must be specific, detailed, and accurate depending on the nature of the case.

Damages

The court will not award compensation for losses unless the plaintiff can show that the deceased experienced those losses. A jury would have no justification to award damages to the victim’s family if this were not the case.

A wrongful death lawyer will help pro that the deceased person’s family has suffered financial damages such as unpaid medical bills, the expense of burial, and other factors. The court will also consider whether the deceased financially supported surviving family members.

If the deceased individual performed professional services, the value of their life could be a factor in the lawsuit if their earnings potential was expected to multiply before their death.

Who Can File A Wrongful Death Suit?

Georgia state laws establish a hierarchy of relatives who can file a wrongful death suit. Below is the pecking order:

  • Spouse and children: A spouse has the right to sue for wrongful death if their partner has died. If your loved one left behind a spouse and children, that spouse must submit a claim on behalf of themselves and their children.
  • Children: If the departed loved one did not leave behind a spouse, then any claims or lawsuits must come from the deceased’s children. So, the prize money would be divided in half.
  • Parents: If a loved one left behind no spouse or children, the legal claim and right to file suit rests with any remaining parents.
  • Estate: If none of the above survives, the wrongful death claim will be held by the decedent’s estate and distributed to the decedent according to state probate laws.

Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Cases in Georgia

The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the individual or parties responsible for losing a loved one in Georgia is two years. Depending on the claim’s specifics, the deadline may be longer or shorter.

However, the wrongful death laws in Georgia may be complicated. Suppose your loved one was injured in an accident but went on to die several days, weeks, or months later. In such cases, the statute of limitations often begins to run on the date when the negligent act caused your loved one’s injuries and not when the deceased passed away because of their injury.

This isn’t a big deal if your loved one just lived a few days after the accident before passing away, but it could become a concern if they battled injuries for months. Remember to be cautious about this grey area. Do not hesitate to get in touch with a wrongful death attorney to protect your rights.

Why You Need a Wrongful Death Lawyer

The benefits of having a wrongful death lawyer in Atlanta on your side include:

  • Evidence gathering: Your lawyer will collect any evidence that might be used to show that the other party is liable and that damages were suffered.
  • Documentation filing: Your attorney can handle all paperwork and communications related to your insurance claim and wrongful death litigation.
  • Insurance company negotiations: Your attorney can begin settlement negotiations on your behalf as soon as the insurance company receives the claim paperwork.
  • Trial representation: If the insurance company for the at-fault party does not offer a satisfactory settlement, your case may proceed to trial, where a wrongful death attorney will represent you before a judge or jury.

Although no amount of money can compensate a family for the death of a loved one, it is essential to hold those responsible for the wrongful death accountable. If you have lost a loved one because of another person’s negligence, our team is ready to fight for your rights and ensure you get fair compensation.

Call 1-800-INJURED to speak to a seasoned wrongful death lawyer and evaluate your case.

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