How Do You Prove Wrongful Death in Georgia?

Posted on April 25, 2022

Anytime a person loses their life due to the negligent or intentional actions of another individual or entity, family members and the estate of the deceased deserve closure and compensation. However, proving a wrongful death claim in the state of Georgia can be challenging. Here, we want to discuss the four elements that must be present in order for a wrongful death claim to be successful in this state.

1. Duty of Care

The first element for proving a wrongful death claim in Georgia is establishing that there was a duty of care between the deceased and the defendant (the person alleged to have caused the death). The duty of care for a wrongful death claim will look different depending on the particular situation at hand in the case. For example, every driver on the roadway owes a duty of care to others around them. This includes the duty to abide by all traffic laws, not to drive impaired, not to drive while distracted, etc. 

Duty of care will look different for incidents involving premises liability claims. All property owners have a duty to ensure that their premises are safe for those who are on the property, including regular inspection and maintenance and taking care of any known hazards.

The duty of care will have to be examined carefully depending on the type of situation at hand. There is no set duty of care applied to wrongful death claims.

2. Breach of Duty

After establishing that there was a duty of care between the deceased and the defendant, the next step is showing that the defendant breached their duty of care in some way. Just like there are many ways to establish a duty of care, there are various ways that a person can breach their duty of care. For example, if a driver operates their vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol, they will almost certainly have breached their duty of care to others on the roadway.

Medical professionals who fail to obtain a complete medical history or who fail to take proper steps to prevent infections likely will have breached their duty of care to their patients.

One of the most challenging aspects of a wrongful death claim is establishing that a breach of duty occurred. It is imperative to work with a skilled wrongful death lawyer in Georgia who has experience handling these claims.

3. Causation 

After establishing that there was indeed a breach of duty by the defendant, it must be shown that the breach of duty directly caused the death of the individual. Just because there was a breach of duty does not necessarily mean that the defendant was the cause of the death. For example, there are certainly times when impaired drivers are involved in vehicle accidents but may not have caused the incident that led to an injury or death. However, if an impaired driver ran a red light, T-boned another individual, and led to that person’s death, this is likely enough to show causation.

4. Damages

The final element that must be present for a wrongful death claim to be successful is establishing that the estate and surviving family members of the deceased suffered some sort of monetary loss. Monetary losses for a wrongful death claim can include medical expenses the deceased experienced after the injury but before their death, the survivors’ pain and suffering losses, funeral and burial expenses, lost income the deceased would have provided had they lived, and more.

A wrongful death lawyer in Atlanta can help you prove these elements in court and get yout the compensation you deserve.