Wrongful death refers to a claim by a plaintiff (not the victim) who seeks to recover damages for the unjust death of another caused by someone's negligent, reckless or intentional acts. There are no specific guidelines that dictate the means of death; however, wrongful death tort claims frequently occur in several circumstances:
- Medical malpractice, especially errors in surgery, diagnosis and/or prescriptions;
- Product defects;
- Automobile accidents, including truck and pedestrian accidents;
- Criminal acts such as murder, physical abuse or neglect.
There are two types of death claims that may be pursued by the deceased's family under Georgia law: surviving family members may file a claim pursuant to Georgia's wrongful death statute or a claim may be pursued by the victim's estate. Wrongful death claims may involve complicated issues that include whether the victim left a will, his marital status, whether he had any children, whether he was due to receive an inheritance, the nature of medical care and expenses following the accident and whether the victim suffered as a result of the accident. A case's unique facts will determine who is entitled to settlement or verdict recoveries, which people may pursue wrongful death claims and the values of each claim. A successful claim is aided by the expertise of an experienced Clayton County wrongful death attorney.
There are four elements that must be proved in a wrongful death action:
- The proximate cause of the victim's death was the defendant's actions;
- The defendant's actions were negligent (someone does not show the same care that a reasonably prudent person would under similar circumstances), reckless, intentional, or his actions were committed under circumstances where the law would hold him strictly liable for the death (strict liability applies where a relationship exists between the defendant and the victim where the defendant is understood to be legally responsible);
- The plaintiff has a right to sue for damages. According to Section 51-4-1 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.), the order of the appropriate party to bring the wrongful death claim is: the spouse, children, or the victim's parents (if there is no living spouse or children);
- The wrongful death caused financial damages.
You should hire an experienced Clayton County wrongful death attorney if you believe your loved one was killed due to someone else's negligence. Call the Law Offices of Shane Smith at 770-HURT-999 for a free consultation.