A wrongful death lawsuit is an opportunity for a deceased person's estate or their loved ones to recover compensation for the loss of life. The goal is to hold accountable the person, people or entity responsible for the individual's death. Most wrongful death cases are determined by proving a claim of negligence or that there was intent to harm against the defendant. In order to make a showing for a case of negligence, a Georgia resident must prove the elements by a preponderance of the evidence.
There are generally four accepted elements of negligence that must be proven for a negligence claim to be successful. The first element is duty. The defendant must have owed a duty to the deceased. Sometimes the duty owed is one to warn of hidden dangers on a property, other times it is the duty of reasonable care or the duty of adhering to safety protocol. The second element of a negligence claim is a breach of the duty owed. The defendant must have breached their duty in order to proceed with the negligence claim.
The third element needed for a successful negligence claim is "cause." To fulfill this element, the injury or death that is being sued over must have been caused in fact or proximately by the failure to abide by the duty owed. This means that the injury has to be one that could be predicted as an outcome of the failure of duty.
The final element, and the most important, is that there must have been an actual injury caused by the failure of duty. In any wrongful death lawsuit, proving these elements is one of the best ways to recover damages.
Source: Findlaw, "Wrongful Death Overview" accessed on Jan. 20, 2015