If a loved one passed away due to someone else’s actions, then which one do you file: a murder case or wrongful death lawsuit?
Knowing the difference between murder and wrongful death can help you review your options and go for the best course of action.
Civil Case versus Criminal Case
A wrongful death case refers to a civil action. That means it is the relatives or estate of the deceased person who file the case, based on the thought that the defendant party caused the victim’s demise through a negligent or deliberate action. On the other hand, murder lawsuits come under criminal law, meaning the state files the case, based on the notion that the party committed an illegal act.
A murder case is determined by one’s intent. When a person intentionally kills someone else, he or she is found guilty of murder. Wrongful deaths can be the consequence of intent, but these can also be because of negligent acts and accidents.
Murder is basically a form of wrongful death. Not every wrongful death is a murder, though.
Burdens of Proof Differ Vastly
Murders are a criminal case, so the prosecutor has to prove that the defendant party committed this crime beyond reasonable doubt. However, wrongful death lawsuits entail civil litigation, so their burden of proof is different. In a wrongful death case, the lawyer of the plaintiff has to be able to establish that the defendant party is most likely responsible for the demise. This means the plaintiff’s attorney has to be able to cause the jury to feel that there is least 51% probability that they committed the crime alleged in the complaint.
Seeking Justice: Wrongful Death versus Murder
Depending on the US state, a murder conviction might just lead to a sentence or a death penalty.
In wrongful death cases, meanwhile, the only available judicial relief is the recovery of the one who brought the case against another. In the event a defendant is deemed guilty of the death, then he or she needs to pay financial compensation to the estate or family of the deceased. He or she may not face other criminal penalty unless the charges are filed.
Compensation is required to pay the final costs or secure the financial well-being of your family. The latter is particularly true if a person or family member was dependent on the demised person for financial support.