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How do I prove a wrongful death in Georgia?


Published in wrongful death on May 11, 2018.

Georgia law defines “wrongful death” as the death of a person caused by the negligent, reckless, intentional, or criminal conduct of another person or entity, such as a business.

The Georgia wrongful death law permits a surviving family member the ability to pursue a claim or lawsuit following the death of a relative. If a family member of yours has been killed because of the conduct of another party, you likely have questions about the Georgia wrongful death law. Your questions may include how you go about proving someone died a legally wrongful death in Georgia.

Four Elements of Proving a Wrongful Death in Georgia

Anyone wanting to use the Georgia wrongful death law must satisfy four elements to prove this type of death occurred and that a particular party is responsible for the accident and death.

First, proving wrongful death in Georgia requires a demonstration that the party alleged to be responsible, owed the deceased victim what is legally known as a duty of care. For example, a motorist has a duty of care to the public to operate their motor vehicle in a reasonably safe manner.

Then, you must prove that the party alleged to have caused an accident violated that duty of care. An example of a violation of a duty of care is a motorist running a red light.

The violation of the duty of care must be what is legally known as the proximate cause of the accident and of the death of your family member. Proximate cause essentially means that the conduct of the party in question was the factual and legal cause of the accident and death. The accident and death must have been reasonably foreseeable by the party alleged to be at fault.

Finally, a wrongful death case can only be pursued after the actual death of a family member, not an anticipated one.

Who May Bring a Wrongful Death in Georgia?

Only certain family members are legally permitted to pursue a wrongful death claim in Georgia. These are:

  • spouses
  • children
  • parents
  • the personal representative of an estate

A spouse and children have priority in pursuing a Georgia wrongful death case. If there is no spouse or children, the deceased person’s parents may pursue a wrongful death case. If none of these relatives exist, the personal representative of a deceased person’s estate can pursue a claim for the benefit of other family members that may exist, like siblings.

As a general rule, a Georgia wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of the accident that killed a family member. Missing the deadline can result in a person being forever precluded from pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit.

Retain a Georgia Wrongful Death Attorney

If you are looking to pursue a wrongful death case, the first step in retaining legal representation is scheduling an initial consultation with a skilled, experienced Georgia wrongful death attorney like those at the Nelson & Smith law firm. You can schedule an initial consultation at your earliest convenience. The firm charges no fee for an initial consultation.

For more information on our Hawkinsville Wrongful Death Lawyers, please visit our site.