Wrongful deaths occur far too often in contemporary society. These tragedies can stem from auto accidents to workplace accidents to premises liability scenarios. Other causes of wrongful death also include medical malpractice and nursing home abuse. And this is not to mention heinous intentional criminal acts. Regardless of the material case evidence, the truth is that most of these actors are negligent to some extent. The question becomes what that extent may be when a death case is evaluated by the court, and can you file suit on behalf of a deceased person?
Even in an accident where someone dies, the applicable evidence may not indicate any wrongful death potential or establish any criminal activity. However, many death cases are indeed determined wrongful, and many times associated criminal charges are also filed along with any civil legal action.
One problem that victims of wrongful death face is that criminal prosecution can hinder any civil action for financial compensation. The predicament can be even worse when the defendant owns no personal financial assets or real estate. Even a judgment in a wrongful death case can be insufficient to obtain any financial damages when the assets to be used in satisfying a judgment are lowered or eliminated by a prior criminal case defense. Additionally, the criminal system often works much quicker than the civil system where personal injuries and wrongful death are adjudicated. This is a primary reason why it is important to consult with a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible when it looks like the defendant might be incarcerated for a significant amount of time. Criminal defendants tend to focus first on avoiding long-term jail as opposed to making victims financially whole in the aftermath.
Determining Wrongful Death Potential
Another problematic issue for victim families is determining whether or not the death is actually the result of a wrongful act in the view of the court. Wrongful death cases are almost always defended vigorously, and details of any prior personal injury case or settlement can impact the final determination on potential legal wrongfulness. The mere fact that someone dies is not always sufficient evidence to allow a wrongful death case to advance in the court system. The potential for a claim denial by the court is easily one of the most important reasons to consult with a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible because evidence can fade fast, and all wrongful death cases are won based on valid material evidence.
Punitive Damage Lawsuits
Where the question of criminality and wrongful death come front and center is when a victim’s family files a wrongful death lawsuit requesting punitive damages. There are cases where no criminal charges are filed and wrongful death can be proven, typically because of the differing burdens of proof. Criminal charges must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, but civil cases are decided based on a preponderance of the evidence in totality. The state has a much higher standard to clear than in a civil case. Cases where both criminal conviction decisions and civil liability is also present can result in successful punitive damage lawsuits.
Contact Our Law Firm for a Wrongful Death Attorney
Regardless of whether a criminal charge has been filed in connection with a fatal accident, it is always best to consult with a legal professional who can provide some detailed analysis of any legal action that may be taken. Case details matter significantly, and criminal charges can assuredly complicate a civil claim. Call our firm today and let a professional wrongful death attorney investigate your case. Your initial consultation with a wrongful death attorney comes at no cost and there’s no obligation to retain our services. Call us at 1-800-ACCIDENT to schedule your attorney meeting.