Is Murder a Kind of Wrongful Death?
If your loved one tragically dies due to the wrongdoing of another person or entity, there are multiple paths that may be taken within the legal system. If the perpetrator acted with intent, then the state may file a criminal charge of murder against that person. If found guilty, the wrongdoer could spend the rest of his or her life in prison, and the death penalty may even be possible as well. While this serves to punish the wrongdoer and deter society at large from engaging in similar behaviors, it does not do anything to help the victim’s loved ones return to some semblance of normalcy in their everyday lives via a financial compensation. In order for the victim’s loved ones to recover financially, they must file a wrongful death lawsuit, which is a civil action that a Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer from Ellis Injury Law can help you file.
Murder is a kind of wrongful death
Notably, wrongful death claims may arise out of negligent or reckless acts by the perpetrator, but they can also stem from intentional acts. In other words, the loved ones of the deceased may have a viable claim for wrongful death due to the intentional acts of the wrongdoer, so it is quite possible for a murder charge to be adjudicated in the criminal court system at the same time a wrongful death lawsuit is adjudicated in the civil court system all stemming from the same killing.
Not all wrongful death claims qualify as murder
While murders qualify as a kind of wrongful death, wrongful death lawyers know that the inverse is not true. Many wrongful death claims would not get off the ground if filed as murder charges in criminal court due to the lack of intent.
What can I receive financial compensation for in a wrongful death claim?
We have already established that the defendant will likely face prison time if found guilty of murder, but that the survivors’ only legal recourse to receive financial compensation is via a wrongful death lawsuit brought in civil court. There are a number of different types of damages for which a wrongful death attorney can help you recover, and some of the more common types are listed below:
- The victim’s medical costs between the time of the accident and the time of death
- Funeral and burial expenses
- The income the victim was reasonably expected to earn had he or she not died
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of pension accounts
- Loss of benefits such as health insurance
- Loss of affection and companionship
The burden of proof is not as high in civil cases
Not only does the level of intent required differ between murder and wrongful death claims, but so does the burden of proof. In a murder case, the state must prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, which means that there can be no other reasonable explanation for how the death occurred other than that the defendant was guilty.
In wrongful death cases, on the other hand, the burden of proof is that the plaintiff’s Los Angeles personal injury lawyer must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant is liable for the killing. This just means that it is more likely than not that the defendant is liable, so even 51% certainty on the part of the jury will suffice. Needless to say, the burden of proof is much stiffer in murder cases, meaning that it is possible for the same defendant to be found not guilty of a murder charge, but still held liable for wrongful death.
No fees unless you win
At Ellis Injury Law, we have over 25 years’ worth of experience handling all sorts of wrongful death cases, whether the defendant was merely negligent or if he or she acted with intent. If you have questions about wrongful death lawsuits, call us 24 hours a day to schedule a free initial consultation. Nothing will come out of your pocket unless you win.