Murder and Wrongful Death
Wrongful Death Lawyer
When the unimaginable happens and you find yourself dealing with the death of a loved one who’s life was taken at the hands of someone else, it is difficult to clearly see the next steps that need to be addressed. The grief associated with losing a loved one is just the beginning of preparing for a future without your loved one. Unfortunately, along with the emotional stress, many loved ones have to deal with a loss of financial security for their family. A successful wrongful death claim can assist with some of the burdens the family now faces.
If your loved one was murdered, it is important to fully comprehend the differences between murder and wrongful death and discuss with your attorney the direction to take with your family.
Definition of Murder
The most important aspect of a murder case is intent. Did the actions of an individual specifically lead to the death of your loved one? The charge of murder is a state charge that the law brings against the individual. If intent can be proven, the individual should be found guilty of murder and time in prison and may even receive the death penalty in some states. Note that murder is a kind of wrongful death but not all wrongful deaths are murder convictions.
Wrongful Death Defined
Wrongful death is when someone dies as a direct result of the actions of another entity or individual. This can either be intentional or because of negligent or careless actions. Wrongful death claims are civil actions that are filed by a representative of the deceased’s estate or by the family on the deceased’s behalf. If the defendant is found guilty of wrongful death, they will likely have to pay monetary compensation to the estate or to the family. Because this is a civil suit, the defendant cannot face criminal penalties in a wrongful death claim.
How Do You Prove Wrongful Death vs Murder?
When charged with murder in a criminal court, the burden of proof needs to be ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’. The jury has to agree that the defendant is one hundred percent responsible for the deceased’s murder. Intent also has to be proven.
In a wrongful death claim, the burden of proof is changed to the ‘preponderance of evidence’. This means that the estate or family of the deceased has to prove that there was a greater than 50 percent chance that the defendant was guilty in the death of their family member. Because many wrongful deaths are because of an accident, intent does not need to be proven.
If Convicted of Murder, Can You Sue for Wrongful Death?
Because convicted murderers will be sent to prison, it is likely they will not have the financial means to pay a wrongful death claim. Unless the murderer had ample assets prior to going to prison, it will be difficult to collect any compensation.
Wrongful Death Claims for a Not Guilty Verdict?
Yes, because the burden of proof for wrongful death is considerably lower than that for a criminal conviction. A wrongful death claim is pursued by a personal injury lawyer Charlottesville, VA residents rely on.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at MartinWren, P.C. for their knowledge about wrongful death cases and personal injury.