There is one type of civil lawsuit that ties directly into a criminal case, and that is a wrongful death personal injury claim.
The reason this ties into a criminal case is because if a defendant in a homicide or manslaughter criminal trial is acquitted of the charges, the family of the person who died can still file a civil suit to hold the defendant liable for his or her actions.
Let’s talk about the conditions that must exist for you to file a wrongful death civil suit.
Things You Must Prove In a Wrongful Death Personal Injury Case
There are specific things that claimant must prove to win a wrongful death claim, including:
- Showing That the Person Died
- Showing the Person’s Death Was Caused By Defendant’s Negligence – In this instance, the defendant’s negligence must include the intention to cause harm or injury.
- Financial Loss Incurred by Death of the Family Member– The person’s death robbed his or her family of financial support.
In a criminal murder trial, a defendant is found guilty if the jury believes that the prosecution has proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
That is a high legal standard, because if one juror has that doubt, the jury will not render a unanimous verdict, which will result in an acquittal or re-trial.
But a claimant in a wrongful death claim must only prove the defendant’s guilt by a preponderance of the evidence. This means that the evidence must show that it is more likely than not that the defendant is guilty, which is a much lower threshold.
And unlike in a criminal trial, the defendant in a wrongful death claim must take the stand and answer questions from the claimant’s attorney.
However, defendants who are found guilty in a wrongful death civil suit are not sent to prison, but are instead held liable for the death of the claimant’s loved one, and are subject to punitive damages.
For example, although O.J. Simpson was acquitted of the murder of his former wife and her friend, he was found liable in a wrongful death suit for their deaths and ordered to pay $33.5 million to the families of the deceased.
Getting Justice For the Loss of a Loved One
There is no amount of compensation that will ease the pain of losing a loved one, but there is justice when a defendant is found liable for intentionally causing the death of another person. But even though the burden of proof for a claimant is lower in a wrongful death claim, you still need an experienced law firm to put together a compelling case if you want to win. The McDaniel Law Group has years of experience representing defense clients, so we have a very deep understanding of how to present evidence to establish liability in wrongful death claims. Please call us today at (202) 331-0793 to take advantage of your free consultation.