Smith County is named for Daniel Smith, a Revolutionary War veteran that served as a United States senator. Carthage is its county seat of this Tennessee region, where a large saltpeter mine is located. Of about 6,878 households, 34 percent have children under 18 years of age. If a loved one of yours died in a Smith County accident, Carthage wrongful death lawyer Matt Hardin may be able to help you seek the compensation you deserve. Whether your loved one was taken from you by a careless driver or by medical malpractice, he can help guide you through the complex legal process.
Wrongful death cases usually must be brought within one year of the accident that caused your relative’s death. If you have a family member who was killed because of someone else’s negligent, reckless, or intentional misconduct, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim. The survivor of a deceased relative may prove the defendant’s negligence by showing that the defendant owed a duty, that the defendant breached the duty, and that the breach caused the victim’s death. In response, the defendant may try to show that the decedent was partially or fully responsible for the accident, and a Smith County attorney can help you challenge this line of reasoning after a personal injury leading to death. Only one lawsuit can be filed, even if there are many people—spouse, parents, or children—left behind who have suffered damages as a result of the death. The decedent’s parents and his children, for example, cannot file two different wrongful death suits. Tennessee gives first priority to a decedent’s spouse to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This priority is in effect even if the decedent and the surviving spouse were separated at the time of death. This priority is removed only upon divorce of a couple.
Where there is no spouse, the child or children of the decedent may bring the wrongful death case and recover damages. They must share the recovery equally. If the children of the decedent are minors, and there is no spouse, a wrongful death lawsuit can be brought in the name of someone who serves as a personal representative for the children in a trustee-like role. Parents may bring a wrongful death suit for the wrongful death of a fetus that was viable when it was hurt or killed.
What if there is no spouse or child? The next of kin is able to bring the wrongful death suit. Sometimes the next of kin are somebody’s parents. If the parents are divorced, they must share the recovery equally, irrespective of custody status. There are some important limits to this general rule, and a personal injury lawyer experienced in these matters can help determine next steps in these cases in Smith County. For example, someone who owes child support with regard to a deceased child cannot recover damages for the wrongful death until the child support payments are made with interest. Any parent who intentionally refuses to pay child support in defiance of a court order and doesn’t contact or visit the child during that time cannot recover for wrongful death.
No matter how your loved one died, you should seek an aggressive Smith County personal injury attorney experienced in wrongful death suits. Contact Matt Hardin by calling 615-200-1111 or sending a message through our online form. We represent Tennessee plaintiffs in connection with vehicle accidents, wrongful death, and medical malpractice in Carthage, Nashville, and Smith County, as well as elsewhere in the state.