If someone else caused the death of your loved one, you are going to want to seek justice to the fullest extent of the law. However, many people equate “wrongful death” with “murder,” and may be confused about what kind of legal remedies they can pursue. These are two very different charges from separate areas of law.
What is a Murder Charge?
If someone is charged with murder, that means they’re being prosecuted by the government in a criminal law capacity. Murder charges can be brought by local and federal agencies, and the governing law is usually codified by the state or federal government.
Someone who is charged with murder will be arrested and formally charged in criminal court. The charging document is usually called a “complaint,” and the consequences (if convicted) can range from fines to prison and capital punishment. Because someone’s liberty is at stake, the standard of proof is the highest available: beyond a reasonable doubt.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit. If the victim would have had a valid personal injury claim against the defendant for the incident that killed them, their family can sue on their behalf. This can happen if a defendant kills someone intentionally or negligently. For example, you might sue for wrongful death as a result of medical malpractice.
The standard of proof for civil lawsuits is much lower than criminal ones. In civil lawsuits, you must prove that the cause of action by a preponderance of the evidence, which means “more likely than not,” or if 51 percent of the evidence points to a person’s liability.
Consequences in a wrongful death suit are usually financial. A wrongful death judgement due to medical malpractice might include funeral and burial costs, loss of income, loss of inheritance and more.
Can You Pursue Both a Wrongful Death Claim and a Murder Charge?
Both charges can be brought against a single entity if both cause of actions are appropriate. For example, O.J. Simpson was acquitted for the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson, which was a criminal charge, but was successfully sued in civil court.
Remember, too, that the people who file the legal action are different depending on the case. As a relative or romantic partner, you can file a wrongful death claim against someone on their behalf. You cannot file murder charges yourself; that’s up to the district attorney.
Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney in Ohio
When your loved one dies as a result from someone else’s negligence or intentional actions, you deserve to recover damages for your loss. Call me today at 877.944.4373 During our free case evaluation, we can review your options and make a plan to pursue your compensation. I’ll Make Them Pay!®.