However, wrongful death lawsuits can and do stem from intentional acts of violence or harm. Although people who commit murder and manslaughter will very likely face criminal charges and a tough sentence if convicted, the surviving loved ones of those who have been killed with intention may also file civil suits against those responsible for their loss. Wrongful death litigation serves a different purpose for victims than the criminal justice process does and may therefore be filed by surviving loved ones even if those responsible for the death are already facing a criminal process. The experienced team at Telaré Law helps surviving loved ones to navigate their legal options in the wake of a loved one’s death, whether that death was caused by negligence, recklessness, or intentional behavior.
Criminal Charges and Civil Liability
When a criminal act results in death (such as an assault or intentional murder), the perpetrator can and should face criminal charges. But the criminal justice process does not preclude a separate civil suit, nor conviction/acquittal in one arena determine the fate of the other case.
Even in cases where someone is charged with and ultimately acquitted of murder, they may still be held liable for wrongful death in a separate trial. This is, in large part, because the standards of judgment are different. Criminal cases require proof beyond a reasonable doubt, whereas civil trials require a determination of guilt after preponderance of the evidence. The latter standard is easier to meet.
One of the most famous cases of a wrongful death judgment despite criminal acquittal is the O.J. Simpson murder case. Simpson was found not guilty of murdering his wife and another man, yet the victims’ families went on to win a wrongful death case against him.
Considering Justice vs. Financial Compensation
Although it is necessary and right to seek criminal justice for those who have killed others through intentional actions, the criminal justice process rarely results in adequate financial compensation for the families of victims. This is one of the many reasons why it is important to explore your legal options with an experienced Richland, WA wrongful death lawyer after you’ve lost a loved one to an intentional act. Losing a loved one comes with huge economic and non-economic costs, and families deserve to have those costs covered. Civil suit compensation awards may include damages related to:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future income and savings
- Medical bills leading up to the time of death
- Loss of companionship
- Pain and suffering
- Infliction of emotional distress
No amount of money can make a family whole again after losing someone they love, but financial compensation is nonetheless an important aspect of the healing and survival process after such a tragedy.
Discuss Your Case with a Compassionate Attorney for Free
If you’ve lost a loved one due to the intentional actions of someone else, you may be wondering where you go from here. The pain and grief are overwhelming. In addition to cooperating in criminal investigations and charges, please consider speaking to our attorneys about your legal options for wrongful death compensation. It would be our honor to help you make an informed decision about how to proceed. Contact us to have your questions answered by a knowledgeable and compassionate Richland, WA wrongful death lawyer today; we look forward to speaking with you.