Establishing Liability in Wrongful Death Cases
Navigating the Complex Path to Liability in Wrongful Death Claims with Dressie Law Firm
Get information about establishing liability in wrongful death cases, the legal standards involved, and how the Dressie Law Firm can help. Contact us for more information.
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 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 article will guide you in establishing liability in wrongful death lawsuits, identifying liable parties, and understanding 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.
Who Can Be Held Liable in a Wrongful Death Suit?
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.
While government entities can be potential defendants, sovereign immunity often makes the path more complex. Despite this legal shield, there are situations where government entities may be held liable for wrongful death.
For example, if 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, 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.
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 tragic loss.
Negligence is defined as the failure to exercise reasonable care, leading to harm or loss of life. It’s the most common legal standard, emphasizing the obligation individuals, companies, or entities have 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
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 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:
- Accident reconstruction
- DNA analysis
- Review and analyze police reports
- Interview witnesses and experts
- Gather Evidence
- Police reports detailing the circumstances
- Eyewitness accounts providing firsthand perspectives
- Expert testimony offering professional insights
- Follow the correct legal procedures:
- File a complaint to initiate legal proceedings
- 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 good 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 and burial 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
Contact us today to schedule your free consultation!