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The Difference Between Murder And Wrongful Death

When you are facing the death of a loved one it can be very hard to know what to do next. The trauma and grief of losing someone you love can make it difficult to understand just what the loss means for your family. Though financial compensation will never be enough to bring back your loved one, it may be a necessary avenue to secure the financial well-being of your family. If your family member has died because of the actions of another it is crucial you understand the difference between wrongful death and a homicide so that you can evaluate your legal options and make a choice for the best course of action for your family.

What Is Murder?

Murder is a criminal form of murder where the actions of one person directly lead to the death of another. Since murder is against the law, murder charges are brought against an individual by the state. Murder is determined by intent. If a person intentionally kills another person they are guilty of murder. A murder conviction results in a prison sentence for the perpetrator and in some states the death penalty. Murder is a type of wrongful death, but not all wrongful deaths are murders.

What Is Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death is a death resulting from the actions of an individual or entity. A wrongful death can be the result of intent, but can also be the result of careless or negligent acts or accidents. Wrongful deaths are a civil action filed by the family on behalf of the deceased. If found guilty of a wrongful death, the defendant will usually have to pay financial compensation to the family or the estate. Unless there are criminal charges, the defendant will not face criminal penalties for the wrongful death.

Burden Of Proof Between Murder And Wrongful Death

For murder, by law, the burden of proof has to be “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This means that to prove murder the court must believe that the defendant is 100% responsible for the death. There also has to be proof of intent. However, in the case of wrongful death, the burden of proof comes down to the “preponderance of evidence.” Which means that the plaintiff has to prove that there was at least a 51% chance that the defendant was responsible for the death of their loved one. Since wrongful deaths may be the result of an accident, there does not have to be the proof of intent.

Can A Murder Conviction Lead To A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Murder convictions can lead to a wrongful death lawsuit. It is very easy to provide the burden of proof in a wrongful death suit when the defendant is a convicted murderer. However since wrongful death suits are intended to procure financial compensation for the loss of the victim, it may not be worth pursuing. Murderers go to prison so they will not be able to earn the money they owe from a wrongful death claim. So unless the murderer has enough assets before entering prison, you may not be able receive compensation for your loss.

Can You Sue For Wrongful Death After A Not Guilty Verdict?

You can sue for wrongful death even if there was no murder conviction. The burden of proof for wrongful death is much lower, so the death does not have to be caused intentionally for you to make a wrongful death claim. So even after a person has received a not guilty verdict from a criminal court, you can still take them to civil court for the loss the of your loved one.

Murder and wrongful death are very different types of legal action. In the case of murder, criminal courts will pursue justice for your loved one, though depending on the circumstances you may still be able to pursue civil action. If your loved one has passed and you need to bring a wrongful death suit against an individual or an entity, you will need to hire a personal injury attorney. A professional personal injury attorney, like our experienced attorneys at All Injuries Law Firm, can help you prove the wrongful death of your loved one. So if you’ve recently lost a family member because of the actions of another person, call us today for a free consultation. With 30 years of experience representing family members in wrongful death lawsuits, we can help you.