How to Prove Fault for a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia
Determining fault in the aftermath of a wrongful death incident is a challenging process. It is crucial for us to point out how important it is to have legal assistance as you go through filing a wrongful death claim. Determining fault involves using significant resources to investigate the incident that caused the death, and it may be necessary to work with expert witnesses who can examine the facts of the case.
Proving Fault Means Showing 4 Elements of Negligence
Proving fault in a Georgia wrongful death claim can be challenging. Typically, there are four elements that must be present in order for these claims to be successful. Briefly, these elements include:
- Duty. The first step is showing that there was a duty of care established between the deceased and the defendant (the person or entity alleged to have caused the death). A duty of care will look different depending on the particular situation involved. For example, all drivers have a responsibility (duty) to operate their vehicles safely on the roadway. The duty of care for a property owner will look different than a driver’s responsibility, as property owners have a duty to ensure the safety of those on their premises. There are countless other ways that a duty of care can be established.
- Breach. After establishing that a duty of care was present between the deceased and the defendant, it must be shown that the defendant breached their duty of care in some way. Similar to how there are various ways to establish a duty of care, there are also multiple ways that a breach of duty can occur. For example, if a driver operates their vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol, this would likely constitute a breach of duty. If a store owner fails to fix wobbly steps even though they know the steps are hazardous, this would be a breach of duty.
- Causation. After establishing that the defendant breached their duty of care, it must be shown that this breach directly led to the incident that caused the death.
- Damages. Finally, it must be shown that the plaintiff in the case suffered some sort of monetary loss as a result of the death. This can include funeral and burial expenses, court costs and legal fees, pain and suffering damages, loss of future earnings and benefits of the deceased, loss of companionship and consortium damages, and more.
Investigating these claims to determine the duty of care, the breach of duty, and to establish causation can be challenging. There will be various types of evidence that need to be gathered, depending on the situation at hand.
Not All Deaths Are Wrongful Deaths in Georgia
If you lost a loved one as a result of an accident, this does not automatically mean that a wrongful death lawsuit will be appropriate. Not every death is a wrongful death, but we do not say this to minimize your loss. We strongly encourage you to contact one of our wrongful death lawyers in Atlanta who can examine the facts of your case and help you make the best steps moving forward based on your situation.