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In wrongful death, pursuit of justice doesn't have to wait

It is not uncommon after a death for criminal charges to be filed. Whether the fatality resulted from a premeditated act or act of negligence or recklessness, the possibility of criminal action exists.

If that action leads to a conviction, it's not unusual for a civil suit to follow. The chances of success are bound to be enhanced if a criminal court finds the defendant guilty first. But a guilty verdict is not required for action to be taken.

Indeed, there may be cases where the circumstances of a case are so heinous that waiting for possible criminal charges doesn't fully serve the cause of justice.

This appears to be what's happening in one case here in Georgia. Readers are likely aware of the recent crash in which five Georgia Southern University nursing students were killed. Authorities say they were in one of seven vehicles on Interstate 16 involved in a chain-reaction collision. They say a tractor-trailer truck triggered the crash, plowing into traffic that was creeping along due to an earlier wreck.

A full investigation is being conducted into the events that led to this tragedy. Officials say it could take months to complete the probe and no charges are likely to be filed until that's done. Meanwhile, the mother of one of the victims is not waiting to see what happens.

A suit filed in Bryan County State Court this week names the company that employed the truck's driver and its insurers. It claims that the driver failed to maintain a proper distance and lookout and that he was driving too fast for existing road conditions.

The mother seeks a jury trial, $15,000 and unspecified punitive compensation for her daughter's death and her personal suffering.

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