What are the elements of a wrongful death lawsuit?

Wrongful death actions are fact-specific to every case. It is the role of a personal injury attorney to match the facts of your loved one's death to the cause of action elements so as to present the most effective case for either settlement or proof at trial, so an important consideration on your part would be to retain a law firm with experience in negotiating and litigating wrongful death cases

If a loved one of yours dies as the result of the negligent or intentional act of someone else, then under Georgia law you may be able to commence a wrongful death lawsuit against that person. Wrongful death actions are a species of tort, and generally have the following requirements for the plaintiff to prove:

  1. As mentioned above, the death of the family member must be caused by a negligent or intentional act.
  2. You must be a surviving family member. Under Georgia law, surviving family members include a spouse and children (including children born out of wedlock).
  3. You must have suffered injuries capable of being quantified as monetary damages. 

There are some variations to these elements, depending on specific circumstances. For example, if there are no surviving family members, the administrator or executor of the decedent's estate can bring a wrongful death lawsuit; and if the death was the result of a criminal act, the personal representative of the estate can file a lawsuit to recover medical, funeral, and other necessary expenses that the estate incurred.

Georgia statutes also contain provisions for how any settlement amount that the surviving spouse receives can be distributed among the spouse and children, as well as a provision excluding damages received from being counted toward any debt obligations of the decedent.

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