A death in the family is never easy to deal with. However, when you learn that your loved one’s death may have been preventable, you may be feeling devastated and ready to demand the liable party be held accountable. Fortunately, our compassionate and dedicated McDonough wrongful death accident attorneys at T. Madden & Associates, P.C. are here to help you during one of the most difficult times in your life.
The criminal justice system will handle any formal charges that may apply. However, you can take matters into your own hands by working with our lawyers for personal injury claims to pursue civil action against the at-fault party. Our team will do everything possible to ensure the liable party pays for their negligence or misconduct. Connect with our legal team and request a 100% free consultation today to learn more about how wrongful death accident claims work in McDonough, who could be responsible for causing your loved one’s death, and what makes wrongful death claims different from criminal cases.
Wrongful Deaths Can Be Intentional or Accidental
You may have grounds for a wrongful death claim if someone else is responsible for causing your family member’s death. Wrongful death actions are possible whether the defendant intended to cause physical bodily injury or death, or did so accidentally. Many types of accidents, incidents, and events can cause wrongful deaths, including:
- Car accident cases
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Slips and falls
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
- Construction accidents
- Vehicular manslaughter
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Work accidents
These are just a few examples of accidents and incidents that can cause fatal injuries. If your family member was involved in another type of incident and succumbed to their injuries, your family may have grounds for legal action against the liable party. We can help you explore your options further when you connect with our McDonough wrongful death attorneys at T. Madden & Associates, P.C. for a free consultation.
Differences Between Wrongful Death Lawsuits and Criminal Cases
It is not unusual for families to demand justice when they discover someone else is responsible for causing the death of a loved one. The criminal justice system will handle any criminal charges that need to be filed against the liable party. If the liable party violated state or federal laws that ultimately led to your family member’s death, criminal charges might apply.
However, this is much different from the wrongful death lawsuit you will file against the perpetrator with help from your McDonough wrongful death lawyer.
Who Handles the Case
When criminal charges are filed, the state’s prosecutor will be responsible for handling the case. They will work with law enforcement officials to investigate the death, gather supporting evidence, speak with witnesses, and determine whether criminal charges are appropriate. If criminal charges apply, the defendant will be placed under arrest and a judge will determine whether bail is appropriate while a trial date is set.
When a wrongful death lawsuit is filed, your McDonough wrongful death lawyer will file the claim in civil court as opposed to criminal court. We will hire experts to review evidence and re-create the incident, obtain witness statements, and present your wrongful death case before a judge and jury.
The Burden of Proof
The only way someone can be found guilty in criminal court is if guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt. There must be no doubt in the minds of the jury when returning a guilty verdict. If there is any reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime in question, they should not be convicted.
However, in civil court, the burden of proof is much less strict. Here, your McDonough wrongful death lawyer must prove liability based on a preponderance of the evidence. Essentially, this means the evidence presented must be clear and convincing that the defendant is more than likely responsible for causing your loved one’s death.
Liability Vs. Guilt
In criminal court, the defendant is found guilty of a crime. In civil court, the defendant is found liable or responsible for the trauma the victim endured.
The penalties when a defendant is found guilty in criminal court are much different than in civil court. If they are convicted of a criminal offense, they face criminal penalties, such as registration as a sex offender, jail time, prison time, fines, probation, parole, and other consequences. If the defendant is found liable in civil court, they are ordered to compensate the victim for every loss they experienced due to the accident.
Georgia’s Wrongful Death Statute
It is important to understand George’s wrongful death laws as you move through the claims process. This way, your family is prepared for what is to come.
Only Specific Parties Can File a Wrongful Death Claim
While you may be anxious to get started on your wrongful death lawsuit, you need to make sure you have the authority to file the claim. Under Georgia wrongful death laws, only the following parties can file a wrongful death action in this specific order:
- The decedent’s surviving spouse
- The decedent’s surviving children
- The decedent’s surviving parents
- The administrator of the decedent’s estate
Damages will be paid to the decedent’s surviving family members or held by the decedent’s estate for their next of kin.
The Statute of Limitations
You only have a limited amount of time to file a wrongful death claim. The statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits in Georgia is two years from the date of the decedent’s death. You will lose the right to pursue your case if your claim is not filed on time. However, there are circumstances where the statute of limitations can be tolled. These include:
- The decedent’s estate has not been put through probate – This allows for the statute of limitations to be tolled for up to five years
- The decedent was killed in the commission of a crime – This allows for the statute of limitations to be tolled up to six years and two years from the date the criminal case is settled
Compensation in McDonough Wrongful Death Cases Under Georgia Law
The decedent’s surviving family members can recover compensation for their losses in a wrongful death case. In addition to any criminal charges the defendant may be facing, they can also be ordered to compensate your family for economic and non-economic damages. Some examples of damages designed to compensate surviving family members for intangible losses include:
- The value of the decedent’s life
- The loss of the decedent’s advice, companionship, guidance, care, counsel, and support
- Loss of the decedent’s income, earning potential, and household services
Our McDonough wrongful death lawyers will also consider the economic or financially-based damages related to the decedent’s death. Some examples of recoverable economic damages include:
- The decedent’s funeral and burial costs
- The decedent’s medical expenses
- Any out-of-pocket expenses related to the fatal accident or incident
- Other financial losses
Consult McDonough’s Leading Wrongful Death Attorneys Today
Wrongful death claims can be emotionally taxing and overwhelming for the decedent’s surviving family members. With the legal guidance and support of our dedicated McDonough wrongful death lawyers at T. Madden & Associates, P.C., your family can get justice. Let us take over the burdens of pursuing your case so you can spend more time with your family and grieve as peacefully as possible.
In this time of mourning, you should not be worried about complex legal issues and jargon. Our highly experienced, black-owned personal injury law firm cares deeply about supporting our community and helping surviving family members get through some of the most challenging times in their lives. Demand justice for your deceased loved one and request a free, no-obligation consultation. You can reach us through our confidential contact form or by phone to get started today.