When someone dies due to the negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions of another person or entity, it can be a devastating experience for the victim’s loved ones. In Georgia, wrongful death laws provide a means for the deceased person’s surviving family members to seek compensation for the damages they have suffered.
However, wrongful death cases can be complex, and defendants will often use a variety of defenses to try and avoid liability. In this blog post, we will explore some of the common defenses used in Georgia wrongful death cases.
One of the most common defenses used in Georgia wrongful death cases is comparative negligence. This defense is used when the defendant argues that the victim’s own negligence contributed to their death. Under Georgia law, if the court finds that the victim was partially responsible for their own death, the damages awarded to the plaintiff may be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to the victim.
For example, if the court determines that the victim was 30% at fault for their own death, the damages awarded to the plaintiff would be reduced by 30%.
Assumption of Risk
Assumption of risk is another defense that may be used in wrongful death cases. This defense is based on the idea that the victim knowingly assumed the risks associated with the activity that led to their death. For example, if a person dies while participating in a dangerous sport, the defendant may argue that the victim assumed the risk of injury or death by participating in that sport.
Statute of Limitations
In Georgia, there is a statute of limitations for wrongful death cases. The statute of limitations is the time limit within which a lawsuit must be filed. If the plaintiff fails to file the lawsuit within the specified time frame, they may be barred from pursuing their case.
In Georgia, the statute of limitations for wrongful death cases is two years from the date of the victim’s death. However, there may be exceptions to this rule, so it is important to consult with an experienced attorney to determine the applicable deadlines in your case.
Lack of Causation
Another common defense used in wrongful death cases is lack of causation. This defense is used when the defendant argues that their actions were not the direct cause of the victim’s death. For example, if a person dies in a car accident, the defendant may argue that the victim’s death was caused by their own negligence or by the actions of another driver on the road.
Lack of Damages
A defendant may argue that the plaintiff has not suffered any damages as a result of the victim’s death. For example, the defendant may argue that the plaintiff did not have a close relationship with the victim or that the victim did not provide financial support t
Certain entities or individuals may have immunity from wrongful death lawsuits under certain circumstances. For example, government entities and officials may be protected by sovereign immunity, which limits their liability in certain situations
Similarly, healthcare providers may be protected by medical malpractice caps, which limit the amount of damages that can be awarded in medical malpractice cases. These caps can also apply in wrongful death cases involving medical malpractice.
Lack of Standing
In order to bring a wrongful death lawsuit in Georgia, the plaintiff must have standing. This means that the plaintiff must be a surviving spouse, child, parent, or legal representative of the deceased person’s estate.
If the plaintiff does not have standing, the defendant may argue that the case should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
Defendants may also argue that the victim had pre-existing medical conditions that contributed to their death. This defense may be used to try and shift blame away from the defendant and onto the victim or their medical providers.
However, the defendant must prove that the pre-existing condition was the primary cause of death, rather than the defendant’s actions.
Invalid or Incomplete Documentation
Wrongful death cases require a significant amount of documentation, including medical records, police reports, and witness statements. If any of this documentation is invalid or incomplete, the defendant may argue that the case should be dismissed or that the damages awarded should be reduced.
Therefore, it is important to work with an experienced attorney who can help you gather all of the necessary documentation and ensure that it is complete and accurate.
There are several common defenses that defendants may use in Georgia wrongful death cases. However, with the help of an experienced attorney, you can build a strong case and overcome these defenses to obtain the compensation and justice you deserve.
As a team of experienced personal injury attorneys, we at Gunnels Injury Law can help you navigate the legal complexities of a Georgia wrongful death case, including dealing with common defenses used by defendants. We can provide you with legal guidance on the viability of your case, including the potential defenses that may be raised by the defendant. Additionally, we can help you build a strong case, negotiate with insurance companies, fight for your rights in court, and guide you through the entire legal process. With our experience and knowledge, we can help you successfully navigate a wrongful death case in Georgia and obtain the compensation and justice you deserve.