Establishing Liability in Wrongful Death Cases

Navigating the Complex Path to Liability in Wrongful Death Claims with Dressie Law Firm

Understand liability in wrongful death cases. Learn how legal responsibility is determined and what you need to know about pursuing a wrongful death claim.

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Wrongful Death Claims and Liability

The most complex part of a wrongful death case is determining and proving liability. As in all civil lawsuits, the burden of proof falls on the plaintiff, the one bringing the suit. For a successful wrongful death lawsuit, surviving family members of the deceased person must prove “by a preponderance of evidence” that the defendant is responsible for their loved one’s death. This means proving that the defendant’s liability is likely more true than not.

This section will help you establish liability in wrongful death lawsuits, identify liable parties, and understand the legal standards that govern such claims. If you’re seeking personalized legal guidance or want to sue for wrongful death, our lawyers at Dressie Law Firm can help you.

Our dedicated team at Dressie Law Firm is ready to offer professional guidance and guide you through the legal process. Our skilled wrongful death lawyers are knowledgeable and experienced in navigating the complex path to liability in such cases. You can trust us to protect your rights and help you receive compensation.

Read on to better understand liability in wrongful death cases and how our personal injury law firm can assist you.

    What is “Wrongful Death”?

     

    In general, wrongful death occurs when a person dies due to someone else’s negligence or the intentional actions of another party. This may arise from various circumstances, such as car accidents, medical malpractice, workplace accidents, defective products, or criminal acts.

    In these cases, the deceased person’s family members may have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against those who are liable for their loved one’s untimely death.

    Who Can Be Held Liable in a Wrongful Death Suit?

    Individuals

    Individuals, such as drivers or medical practitioners, can be held liable in wrongful death suits. For instance, in motor vehicle accidents (MVAs), a negligent driver may be held responsible for the tragic loss of life, emphasizing the individual’s duty to exercise due care and prevent harm.

    Companies and Organizations

    Companies and organizations can also be defendants, especially if the wrongful death is linked to their premises, products, or employees. Whether due to unsafe conditions on their property or defective products, corporate accountability is not uncommon in wrongful death cases.

    Government Entities

    While government entities can be potential defendants, sovereign immunity often complicates the process. Despite this legal shield, there are situations in which government entities may be held liable for wrongful death.

    For example, suppose a government employee, such as a police officer, is involved in a traffic accident that results in a wrongful death due to negligence or recklessness while on duty. In that case, the government entity may be held liable.

    Legal Standards for Establishing Liability

    In legal terms, liability for wrongful death signifies being held responsible or accountable for negligently or intentionally causing someone’s death. The standard followed in establishing liability depends on the circumstances that led to such death. The standard of negligence applies in cases of nonintentional injury, intentional tort in cases of criminal activity, and strict liability in product liability cases.

    If proven, the liable party will be responsible for compensating the deceased’s family.

    Understanding the standards for establishing liability is paramount when fighting for a just wrongful death settlement.

    Negligence

    In wrongful death cases, the legal concept of negligence plays a pivotal role, requiring a careful examination of whether a party’s failure to exercise reasonable care directly contributed to the victim’s death.

    Negligence is the failure to exercise reasonable care that leads to harm or loss of life. It’s the most common legal standard, emphasizing individuals, companies, or entities’ obligation to act prudently to prevent foreseeable harm.

    To prove negligence, the plaintiff must establish three elements:

    • The defendant owed the deceased duty of care

    • The defendant’s acts breached the duty of care

    • The breach caused the deceased’s death

    Intentional Tort

    In some instances, intentional acts like assault can cause death. When an individual’s deliberate actions lead to fatal consequences, they can be held liable for the loss of life and damages sustained by the deceased person’s family members.

    To prove the defendant intentionally caused the death of the victim, the plaintiff must prove “by a preponderance of evidence” that the defendant engaged in an intentional act and that the act caused the death of the victim.

    Note that in cases of intentional torts, the courts are encouraged to award punitive damages, and there’s no cap on the amount.

    Strict Liability

    Strict liability applies when a party is held responsible for harm or death, regardless of intent or negligence. This legal standard is often invoked in cases involving defective products, where the focus shifts from the defendant’s state of mind to the inherent danger posed by the product.

    An experienced wrongful death lawyer can help you understand these standards and guide you through your wrongful death action.

    The Process of Establishing Liability

    Embarking on the journey to establish liability in wrongful death cases involves a nuanced process. Here, we delve into the key steps, from gathering evidence to navigating legal procedures and understanding the outcomes through settlements and judgments. The steps are as follows:

    1. Investigate

      • Accident reconstruction

      • DNA analysis

      • Review and analyze police reports

      • Interview witnesses and professionals

    1. Gather Evidence

      • Police reports detailing the circumstances

      • Eyewitness accounts providing firsthand perspectives

      • Professional testimony offering professional insights

    2. Follow the correct legal procedures:

      • File a complaint to initiate legal proceedings

      • The discovery phase, where evidence is exchanged, and negotiations occur

      • If there is no resolution, progression to trial

      • Presentation of evidence and arguments before the court

    Depending on the outcome of the negotiations with the at-fault party or court proceedings, your case may result in:

    • A settlement: Agreement reached before trial, outlining terms and compensation

    • Award: Rendered by a judge or jury after a trial, determining legal responsibility and owed compensation amount

    • Denial: The court denies your wrongful death claim.

    Dressie Law Firm Can Help

    Dressie Law Firm is the go-to choice for those grappling with the aftermath of wrongful death in Georgia. We have handled thousands of personal injury cases and recovered over 30 million dollars in damages for our clients. We understand the profound impact of these cases and offer a compassionate, personalized approach that sets us apart.

    Our Atlanta wrongful death attorney at Dressie Law Firm can guide you through the process from start to finish, ensuring your case gets the right representation for maximum financial compensation. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

    A wrongful death claim is a legal action brought by the survivors or dependants of a deceased individual against parties deemed responsible for their death due to negligence, intentional torts, or strict liability.

    How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim?

    The timeframe to file a wrongful death claim is governed by the statute of limitations, varying by jurisdiction. In Georgia, the statute of limitation for wrongful death lawsuits is two years from the death of the decedent. It’s important to file as soon as possible and retain the services of a reasonable wrongful death attorney to guide you.

    What Damages Can I Recover in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

    There are several types of compensation in personal injury and wrongful death cases to be recovered by the family members of the victims. Your compensation may include:

    • Funeral expenses: Covering the costs associated with laying the deceased to rest

    • Medical expenses: Reimbursement for medical costs incurred before the individual’s passing

    • Lost income: Compensation for the financial support the deceased would have provided

    • Pain and suffering: Addressing the emotional toll and personal injury claim on survivors due to the loss of their loved one

    • Punitive damages: In cases of extreme negligence or intentional harm, punitive damages may be awarded to deter similar conduct in the future.

    The Dressie Law Firm Can Help You

    If you or a loved one is a victim of a reckless or negligent driver, we want you to know that the law is on your side and so is the Dressie Law Firm.

    Contact us today to schedule your free consultation!