If you lost a loved one due to the negligence or transgression of another, including murder, you may be able to sue the responsible party for “wrongful death.” Though the wrongful death statutes vary from state to state, Georgia, like most jurisdictions, has an established procedure for bringing wrongful death claims, proving wrongful death and awarding damages.

According to FindLaw, plaintiffs in wrongful death cases must prove the existence of four elements in order to have a successful cause of action. The first and most obvious is, someone must have died. Two, that someone’s death was the result of someone else’s negligence or a malicious and intentional act. Three, survivors of the decedent (such as yourself), have suffered monetary injury as the result of the death, and finally, you and/or other survivors have appointed a personal representative for the deceased’s estate.

The cause of action may stem from a number of wrongdoings, including medical malpractice, criminal activity, an automobile accident or hazardous conditions in the workplace. However, bear in mind that you must also prove that the defendant owed the decedent a duty of care. For instance, in the case of medical malpractice, you must show that a doctor-patient relationship existed. In other cases, such as those arising from murder or automobile accidents, duty of care is implicit, as each citizen has a duty to refrain from engaging in activities that could put others in harm’s way.

As for damages, the Georgia courts typically allow aggrieved family members to recover both economic and non-economic damages. For instance, you may recover compensation for any medical expenses the victim accrued prior to his or her death, funeral expenses, loss of financial support, loss of household services and lost prospect of inheritance. You may also recover compensation for loss of companionship, loss of parental guidance (if the decedent was a parent or guardian) and pain and suffering. In some cases, the courts award interest from the date of the decedent’s death.

You should not use this article as legal advice. It is for informational purposes only.