What Is Considered Wrongful Death?
When someone passes away, it never feels right, but certain circumstances can make a loved one’s passing grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. Additionally, many people get confused about the difference between wrongful death cases and murder cases – as both result from actions that are technically against the law.
The term “wrongful death,” is one you will encounter often on our site, and you may even be in a situation where you need to file a wrongful death lawsuit. As such, we wanted to take a moment to explain this term more fully.
In addition to the blog you’re reading, you may find some other articles on our website helpful, especially:
- Our main page about wrongful death lawsuits
- What Type of Compensation Could You Receive in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
- Is There a Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Lawsuits?
- Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Florida?
- Your Guide to Florida’s Wrongful Death Act
Wrongful Death, Defined
In the simplest terms, a wrongful death is the death of a human being as the result of the wrongful act of another person. Generally speaking, wrongful death claims apply when someone’s death is someone else’s fault.
One individual being responsible for another’s death can happen in all types of situations. Wrongful death actions are common after car accidents and other acts of negligence, but they can also apply to purposeful acts (called intentional torts) and crimes, like murder.
Many times, wrongful death claims are filed in conjunction with, or immediately after, criminal trials. Someone could be found not guilty of murder but liable for wrongful death. This is because wrongful death cases lead to civil trials, and the burden of proof is lower.
In criminal cases, prosecutors must prove that the defendant (the person being accused of the crime) is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, but in civil cases, plaintiffs (the people filing lawsuits) must only prove that the defendant is liable via a preponderance of the evidence. To be found liable via a preponderance of the evidence, the judge or jury must only find that there is more than a 50% chance that the plaintiff’s claim is true.
In the infamous case of O.J. Simpson, for example, famous football player O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of the murder of his wife and his friend, but he was found liable in a wrongful death lawsuit.
The Legal Guidance You Need
Wrongful death claims can be complex and have extremely high stakes. At Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Prather & Littky-Rubin, we take human lives seriously and have more than 200 years of combined legal experience.
If you have questions about wrongful death claims or think you may need to file one, our attorneys would be honored by the opportunity to give you legal advice during a free consultation.
We look forward to helping you recover.