Like any lawsuit, your chances of winning a wrongful death suit depend on several critical elements. In addition to proving liability, you must consider other factors, including choice of attorney, jurisdiction, and statute of limitations.
Often winning a lawsuit goes beyond the law, and many other external factors play a crucial role in your chance of success.
If you are wondering how to win a wrongful death lawsuit, let this article be a guide. For a free consultation with our Atlanta, Georgia wrongful death lawyers, please contact our team online or call (770) 988-5252 today.
Elements of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Your chances of winning a wrongful death suit will depend on whether you can prove the elements of your claim.
For a victim’s family member to win a wrongful death lawsuit, they must prove the following elements:
- Proof of their loved one’s death,
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the victim,
- The defendant breached that duty, and
- As a result of that breach, the surviving family members suffered damages, including financial loss.
Some aspects of your claim will be easier to prove than others. For instance, proving your loved one’s death is usually straightforward, as it only requires supplying a death certificate. Conversely, demonstrating the causal relationship between the defendant’s breach of duty and their death can be much more challenging.
There must also be evidence of a doctor-patient relationship for wrongful death claims alleging medical malpractice.
A wrongful death lawsuit is typically filed by the victim’s immediate family member, such as their spouse, children, or parents. It seeks compensation for losing a loved one due to someone else’s negligence or misconduct.
Examples of accidents or conduct that often lead to wrongful death lawsuits include:
- Car accidents,
- Truck accidents,
- Car vs. pedestrian accidents,
- Motorcycle accidents,
- Medical malpractice,
- Premise liability claims, and
- Defective products.
- Nursing Home Abuse
Generally, these types of wrongful death claims will proceed similarly to personal injury claims.
Factors That Can Affect Your Odds of Winning a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Several factors can affect your chances of winning a wrongful death suit. Some may play a more influential role in the outcome of your case than others. Remember, every situation is unique, and what may play a pivotal role in another case may have little relevance in yours.
Statute of Limitations
Every state, including Georgia, has a statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. The statute of limitations is the time frame you have to take action. Generally, in Georgia, you have two years from the victim’s date of death to file a civil lawsuit seeking damages.
However, there are exceptions to the two-year time limitation. Depending on the circumstance, you may have more or less time to initiate your suit. For instance, if the responsible party is a government entity, you will likely have less time to file your claim, typically only one year.
On the other hand, if the surviving family member is a minor at the time of the victim’s death, the statute may be tolled until they turn 18. In other words, the time clock is paused until the surviving member reaches adulthood and then will immediately begin running.
You may be forever barred from pursuing legal action if you miss the applicable deadline.
The location where you file the lawsuit can impact the case outcome. States have varying laws and specific legal procedures that can affect your odds of winning. A seasoned wrongful death attorney can discuss the state’s particular rules and jurisdiction with you.
Strength of Your Evidence
Like any case, the strength of your evidence will significantly impact your case. In fact, it can make or break your claim. Generally, the more credible your proof, the stronger your lawsuit.
Examples of evidence in wrongful death suits include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Medical records,
- Billing statements,
- Photos and video,
- Eyewitness testimony, and
- Expert reports.
Remember, every case is unique, and even if you do not have a laundry list of evidence, your case can still be successful if you have a few vital pieces of evidence.
Damages can be limited depending on who the defendant is and the applicable insurance policies. For instance, if a defendant has a small insurance policy, you may be limited to seeking damages up to that policy limit. On the other hand, if the defendant has hefty insurance policies, you may be able to pursue more damages.
Sometimes, if you seek an exorbitant amount of damages, convincing a jury you are entitled to them can be more challenging. An attorney can guide you on the appropriate, reasonable, and fair amount of damages to seek in your case.
In addition to insurance policy limits, the defendant’s other resources can also affect the case’s outcome. For instance, if the defendant has deep pockets and the ability to hire a top-notch legal team, they may put up a strong defense against your claims.
If your case does not settle out of court and you need to go to trial, jury selection can also impact your case. You want jurors that will be sympathetic to you and your situation. After all, the jurors are the ones deciding your case and damages. Selecting the right jurors and vetoing potentially harmful jurors is critical.
Your attorney’s experience level can also affect your chances of winning your case. Choosing a knowledgeable, skilled, and seasoned lawyer in wrongful death law is essential. You need an attorney with a track record of success in both settling cases out of court and winning at trial.
Now is not the time to hire your local community attorney that you turn to for minor matters. You want an attorney experienced with negotiating settlements and winning trials in wrongful death cases.
Contact Our Georgia Wrongful Death Lawyers
MG Law’s team is committed to helping accident victims and their families. With numerous awards and recognitions, our attorneys provide top-notch representation to each client.