Any Albany wrongful death attorney knows that nobody ever wants to think that their loved one could get killed in an accident. Unfortunately, thousands of people die in Georgia every year in different types of accidents. Your loved one could’ve been involved in a fatal car crash. Or they may have been injured on someone else’s property. Regardless of how they were killed, your family deserves a right to get justice. When it comes to suing for wrongful death, some people think they need to show that the defendant did something malicious or intentional or to prove intent of slaying. The truth is that our Albany wrongful death attorneys do not actually have to prove that the defendant intended to hurt or kill your loved one. All they have to prove is that the defendant was negligent. In this sense, it is not all that different from a regular personal injury case.
Here, we will discuss how your Georgia wrongful death lawyer proves your case. We will also explain what wrongful death really means and what rights your family has. If you have recently lost a family member and think you may have a claim for wrongful death, contact our office directly. We offer our clients a free, initial consultation so you have a chance to meet with an experienced Albany wrongful death attorney and see if your claim has merit.
What Kind of Accident Was Your Loved One In?
The first thing your Georgia wrongful death lawyer will need to know is what kind of accident your loved one was in. The type of accident may determine the direction in which your case flows. For example, if your loved one was in a car accident, then we would look to see if the other driver was negligent. Perhaps they were distracted driving. Or, if they were drunk driving, your family would have a very strong case for wrongful death. It isn’t enough that they were involved in an accident. Your Albany wrongful death attorney must prove that the other party caused the accident. They must also show that the other party was negligent.
Of course, there are some cases where the defendant did act intentionally. But it is hard to imagine someone getting behind the wheel and intentionally getting into a motor vehicle accident. There is too much risk that they would also get hurt in the crash. In these cases, it is really nothing more than a driver making a mistake and it results in an accident. Once the collision occurs, the crash can take on a life of its own.
It is Very Rare That a Defendant in a Wrongful Death Case Acted Intentionally
As briefly mentioned above, most wrongful death cases do not involve intent. The only time we see this is when the victim was hurt or killed during the commission of a crime. For example, if your loved one was in a convenience store while a burglary was going on, they could get shot. The person committing the burglary would certainly be liable for wrongful death. However, these cases are few and far between. Our Albany wrongful death attorneys typically handle cases that would be considered a personal injury case with the only difference being that the victim passed away. Instead of representing a direct plaintiff, we are representing the family member who steps into the shoes of the victim.
Is it Possible to Demand Punitive Damages in a Wrongful Death Case?
It’s only natural to want to demand punitive damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. After all, your loved one paid the ultimate price. It seems like that is enough to make the judge want to issue a censure to the defendant. The problem is that, if the defendant didn’t act intentionally, the judge is not going to issue punitive damages. This doesn’t mean that it never happens. For example, if your loved one died in a drunk driving accident, it won’t be difficult to convince the judge to order punitive damages. It all comes down to whether the judge feels punitive damages would send a message to other people to refrain from behaving the way the defendant in your case behaved. If your case involves ordinary negligence, this type of message wouldn’t be necessary.
It Doesn’t Seem Fair That the Defendant Could Walk Away Without Paying a Dime
Some of our wrongful death clients don’t think it’s fair that a defendant could walk away without having to pay damages. The way they see it, it isn’t enough that the defendant’s insurance carrier paid their wrongful death claim. They think the defendant should be punished somehow. The problem with this line of thinking is that it presumes the defendant knew what they were doing. In most wrongful death cases our Georgia wrongful death lawyers handle, the defendant feels terrible about what happened.
We understand that it doesn’t matter to your family that the defendant feels bad about what happened. Your family is feeling a lot worse. However, when it comes to the law, you can only demand damages that you can prove. If you can’t prove that the defendant acted intentionally, you will not be able to demand punitive damages.
Contact One of Our Albany Wrongful Death Attorneys if You Believe You Have a Valid Claim
It is a terrible thing to lose a loved one. But to lose them to a senseless accident is almost unbearable. The only thing we can do is to help your family get justice. You should call and speak with one of our Albany wrongful death attorneys as soon as you’re comfortable dealing with this side of your loved one’s death. It doesn’t have to be days or even weeks after their death. Once you feel you’re strong enough to move forward with legal action, we will be here for you. We do offer our clients a free, initial consultation. This gives you a chance to sit down with a seasoned Georgia wrongful death lawyer and find out what your options are.