Losing a loved one, especially when it's the result of a preventable accident or illness caused by another person's action or inaction, is an experience none of us want to endure. All emotions aside, however, wrongful death cases can take a financial toll. On behalf of the estate (typically), survivors (usually family members) can often file a wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia. Though these claims are never what a person wants to do, they are often necessary and practical for the mere financial part of it.

Attorney Richard Griffin has the experience needed to win your wrongful death claim.

Why hire the wrongful death attorneys at the Griffin Law Firm?

Because our firm has an outstanding reputation and extensive firm resources. How do you know? Review our firm's awards, reviews, and results below:

At the Griffin Law Firm, our wrongful death attorney in Atlanta understands what you are going through and will persevere to obtain the best possible legal outcome. Contact us today at 877-PAIN-LAW to schedule a free initial consultation. In the meantime, here's an overview of what a wrongful death claim in Georgia may involve.

What Constitutes a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Georgia

When someone dies as a result of the negligence or misconduct of another person, the family of the deceased person may file a wrongful death claim against the person at fault. A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil lawsuit brought against an individual, company, or government agency.

In Georgia, what damages can you recover for in a wrongful death claim?

  • Lost income
  • Medical expenses prior to the death
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost companionship
  • Lost prospect of inheritance. 
  • The value of the life of the deceased person from their own perspective.

In Georgia, a plaintiff needs to show the cause of death by satisfying four elements.

  1. The plaintiff owed a duty of care to the deceased person (also referred to as the decedent).
  2. They breached this duty of care (either negligently or intentionally).
  3. This breach caused the decedent's wrongful death.
  4. The plaintiff suffered losses as a result.

After establishing these elements, it then turns on the question of who can file the wrongful death claim in Georgia.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Georgia?

Wrongful death lawsuits are usually brought by a representative of the decedent's estate (often the executor) on behalf of or with survivors who suffered financially as a result of the death, referred to as the “real parties in interest”. 

The definition of a real party in interest depends on the jurisdiction. In most states, they are the immediate family members of the decedent, including: 

  • Wives
  • Husbands
  • Children
  • Parents of young children

Many states also recognize life partners who were financially dependent on the decedent. 

Relationships beyond immediate family members or life partners may not be eligible to file a wrongful death suit, depending on the relevant law. For example, only some states recognize extended family members like grandparents and siblings. Some states also recognize the parents of a deceased fetus as real parties in interest.

Common Causes of Wrongful Death Claims in Atlanta

Wrongful death claims often arise in the context of the following.

  • Auto Accidents, especially those involving drunk drivers. If the case involves intoxication, the lawsuit may also name the person who served the driver alcohol as a defendant.
  • Other auto accidents or related auto accidents, including those involving commercial trucks, semi-trucks, motorcycles, boats, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
  • Medical malpractice, when a practitioner fails to provide an acceptable level of care that leads to a misdiagnosis, surgical mistake, prescription error, birth injury, or any other harm.
  • Product liability: A defective product or medication causes someone's death.
  • Airplane accidents, where the airline, plane manufacturer, or pilot may be named as defendants.
  • Workplace accidents or construction accidents, including deaths caused by falls, falling objects, improper training, or exposure to toxic substances.
  • Premise liability accidents, e.g., a slip and fall or another accident occurring on someone else's property.

What Are Common Defenses to Wrongful Death Claims in Georgia?

The defenses available to a defendant in a wrongful death claim and their application vary between states. If you are the plaintiff, it is important to know what potential defenses are so that you can be prepared to argue against them. 

Some common defenses include:

  • Expiration of the statute of limitations, where the plaintiff has filed their claim beyond the deadline and is now ineligible to recover.
  • Comparative or contributory negligence, where the defendant alleges the decedent's negligence contributed to their death
  • Assumption of risk, where the decedent knew about the risk associated with an activity or signed a waiver or release accepting it.
  • Self-defense, where the defendant says they used reasonable force against the decedent to protect themselves from the decedent causing serious harm to them.

Whether a specific defense applies depends on the circumstances of the case. It's also important to remember that just because a defense is invoked, it does not mean you can't argue against it. When a defense is invoked, the defendant must prove it. 

The standard of proof in a wrongful death action is the civil standard of a preponderance of the evidence. In other words, it is more likely than not that the defendant's actions resulted in wrongful death.

Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney today at The Griffin Law Firm For A Free Consultation

We have advocated for our Georgia clients for decades. There's no need to handle these difficult matters of law all alone. Call us today at 877-PAIN-LAW or use our Contact Us form below for your free consultation and claim evaluation.

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