Respected Personal Injury Attorney Explains Wrongful Death and Murder
Most believe that if someone takes another person’s life it is already considered murder, whether it was through a violent act or as a result of their negligence. From a grieving family’s perspective, it doesn’t matter how the death was caused–all that matters is that their loved one was taken away prematurely from them.
While no one can contest the extent of this tragedy, most people might not know that causing someone’s death is not always considered murder. In court, there’s a huge difference between murder and wrongful death. As a trusted Oklahoma City personal injury attorney might explain, there are key differences between the two.
Civil vs. Criminal Cases
Perhaps the most telling difference between these two is that wrongful death lawsuits are civil cases, while murder is a criminal case. Wrongful death cases are filed against another person or a business for causing the death of a loved one due to negligence or wrongful actions, and the goal is usually to gain financial compensation for someone’s death. Typically, wrongful death cases stem from car accidents, medical malpractice, or neglect and abuse in a nursing home.
Murder, on the other hand, is a criminal case held in criminal court, with the punishment being incarceration. The state often initiates a case against the defendant.
In particular instances, the lines blur between wrongful death and murder, or even criminal and civil charges. For instance, the bereaved family of a murdered person may opt to file a civil suit on top of a defendant’s criminal charge due to the financial ramifications brought about by the death of a loved one.
Some even resort to filing a wrongful death suit as an aftermath of an acquittal, since these lawsuits have a much lower burden of proof than murder. How so? Criminal courts must find that a defendant is guilty “beyond reasonable doubt” to indict a defendant, while civil courts need only prove the guilt of a defendant by a “preponderance of the evidence.”
Indeed, these concepts are very nuanced, which might lead to some confusion. If you’re not sure which of the two you should file, consider speaking to a wrongful death lawyer in Oklahoma.
How a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Works, alllaw.com
What Makes a Death a Wrongful Death?, laws.com
Civil Cases vs. Criminal Cases – Key Differences, findlaw.com