What You Need to Prove in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit.

Personal Injury

When a person dies because of the negligence or wrongful conduct of another, a wrongful death action can be brought to obtain compensation for the victim’s injuries and the family’s loss (although in Georgia, family members cannot recover for loss of companionship, advice, counsel, or consortium).

Personal Injury Lawsuits with a Twist

Wrongful death actions fall under the broad category of personal injury lawsuits.

In some ways, a wrongful death lawsuit is very much like an ordinary personal injury case, for example, a car accident case.

In other ways, they are completely unique actions.

Some of the major differences presented by a wrongful death lawsuit include that:

  • The victim is not available to testify at trial (due to his/her death)
  • A person other than the victim (i.e., a person entitled to bring the action) files the lawsuit
  • Recoverable damages in Georgia include “full value of life” damages
  • Punitive damages may not be recovered by surviving family members, but have in some cases been awarded to an estate representative

Negligence Based Wrongful Death Actions

Another similarity between wrongful death cases and other personal injury actions is that like any personal injury lawsuit based on negligence, to hold a defendant liable, a wrongful death plaintiff must prove:

  • Duty
  • Breach
  • Causation, and
  • Damages

But how do you prove your case when the main witness involved in the case is deceased and can’t testify?

The Challenges of Proving a Wrongful Death Action

Wrongful death actions present a number of litigation challenges. One of them is that the case must be proved—by a preponderance of the evidence— without the testimony of the victim himself or herself.

To overcome this challenge, an experienced wrongful death attorney must conduct a thorough investigation and must obtain supporting (and admissible) evidence from available documents and other witnesses.

Wrongful death cases frequently require the use of expert testimony as well. For example, expert testimony can be used to reconstruct an accident to prove a defendant’s fault (i.e., negligence and breach of duty). Medical experts help to establish and prove a decedent’s injuries, pain and suffering, value of life etc.

Wrongful death actions may be challenging to litigate, and they can never make up for the loss of a loved one, but they play a key role in obtaining justice for surviving family members.


Personal Injury Attorneys in Cumming, Georgia.

The personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein, P.C., are here to help you. We serve clients in Atlanta, and in several counties throughout Georgia, including: Clayton County, Cobb County, Dekalb County, Douglas County, Fulton County, and Paulding County, among others. To find out how we can help you, call us at: 770-888-7707. Or contact us here.

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