When an individual dies, there are two manner of legal actions which may come about as a result: a criminal action and/or a civil action. Should law enforcement believe the death was a result of another individual’s intention to kill or criminal carelessness or negligence, an individual may be charged with murder or manslaughter with the purpose of that case to be punitive in nature (i.e. – punish the alleged responsible party). Unfortunately, while society may be protected as a result of a conviction, these cases rarely compensate the family for their loss.
In the second instance, while murder/manslaughter charges may be involved, a civil action for wrongful death may be brought by survivors seeking financial damages. Below, the lawyers at Thompson Law Office in Lexington, KY, outline a few of the key differences.
What Is Murder?
A murder charge can apply where the actions of one individual led directly to the death of another. Because murder is against the law, charges are brought by the state. Guilt is generally based on intent. If an individual kills another person intentionally, they are guilty of murder.
A guilty verdict in a murder case can result in a prison sentence or even the death penalty, depending on the state. Though murder is a form of wrongful death, not all wrongful death cases can be classified as murder.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death refers to a death resulting from the action or inaction of a person or party. A wrongful death can be the result of negligent or careless acts, as well as the result of intent. Whereas murder charges are brought to court by the state, wrongful death claims are brought in civil court by family members on behalf of the deceased.
A defendant who is found guilty in a wrongful death case will typically pay financial compensation to the family or estate. Unless the state chooses to press criminal charges, the defendant will not face criminal prosecution or penalties.
Can a Murder Lead to a Wrongful Death Claim?
In some cases, survivors may be able to file a wrongful death claim following a murder. For example, if an individual is murdered, and the killer arrested, the killer may be subject to criminal prosecution. However, the victim’s survivors may still choose to claim damages to help meet household operation costs, daily expenses, and children’s education needs following a conviction. The difference between wrongful death and murder is that the criminal justice system is unable to award financial damages to survivors; its only intention is to hold the killer accountable.
If you require the aid of a skilled attorney, Thompson Law Office is the firm to call. Backed by over 20 years of combined legal experience, you can depend on their lawyers for the personalized, professional representation you need to obtain the justice you deserve. Visit them online or call (859) 280-2222 to schedule your free initial consultation.