Legal cases that center around an issue of death are generally complex and key questions are often defined by minutia. Outside of a legal realm, many individuals may feel that wrongful death and homicide are terms that can be somewhat tangled and interchangeable. However, the charges are different in many ways and in fact both charges can be made in the same case. Seeking the experience of a wrongful death attorney can help to understand these types of cases more clearly.
For a defendant to be found guilty of a homicide charge, the prosecution must provide proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime. In order to prove this charge, the prosecution will argue that the act was intentional, thus providing evidence that the defendant had an intent to kill. Therefore, in order for the charge of homicide to be upheld, the prosecution must prove an “intent to kill.”
In a wrongful death case, deaths often occur due to the carelessness or negligence of another party. There are many situations which can lead to wrongful death, including medical malfeasance, workplace accidents, or a road accident. In many of these situations, there is no “intent to kill.” According to the law in most states, the family of the deceased can be eligible for compensation if it is proven that the death occurred as a result of another party’s negligence.
In wrongful death lawsuits, the plaintiff is typically seeking compensatory damages rather than punishing the defendant in criminal court. These types of cases are classified as civil suits, which can involve a complex burden of proof. Typically, the plaintiff’s wrongful death attorney must prove that the defendant was negligent by a “preponderance of the evidence.” This standard is lower than the “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used when prosecuting a homicide and suggests that there only has to be at least fifty-one percent probability that the defendant’s negligence was responsible for the death.
Families who have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another party can seek legal services from a wrongful death attorney to pursue a suit for compensatory damages. Working with a lawyer can help ensure a timely response and reasonable compensation.