Wrongful death claims are brought after a loved one has suffered a fatal accident. A family may bring a wrongful death claim against any party who negligently, recklessly, or intentionally caused their family member’s death. Simply put, a family can bring a wrongful death claim against the perpetrator if their loved one died due to a criminal act, whether intentional or unintentional. This may include crimes such as DUI, murder, or robbery.
What Can the Family Recover?
When a court finds for the family of the deceased in a wrongful death claim, they can recover both financial and emotional losses related to the death. This can include things like financial support they would have received over the deceased’s lifetime, pain and suffering, and sometimes, punitive damages.
Even though a court may award a large amount of money to the family, it doesn’t mean that the family will ever receive it all. In many cases, the convicted will lack the assets to pay the family members. However, there may be additional parties aside from the convicted who may be held liable, such as a bar that overserved the perpetrator alcohol in a DUI, the perpetrator’s employer, or the owner of the property on which the crime occurred.
Criminal vs. Civil Trials
It’s important to note that although a guilty finding in a criminal trial can help to support a wrongful death lawsuit, the absence of such does not hurt such a claim. A family can bring a wrongful death claim against someone even if that individual never received criminal charges or even if they did but were found not guilty. This is because the level of proof required in a criminal case differs from that required in a civil case.
Level of Proof
A criminal case requires that the prosecution prove the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt whereas a civil case for wrongful death requires a preponderance of the evidence. This means that the plaintiff (the family of the deceased) must only prove that it’s more likely that not that the defendant committed the offense. Additionally, whereas juries in criminal trials must generally come to a unanimous decision, civil juries don’t usually have to. And finally, while you don’t choose a criminal prosecutor, you do choose a civil attorney and can ensure that you are hiring someone who has the knowledge and experience to help you prevail.
The Attorneys at Rochelle McCullough Help Those in Dallas Who Have a Claim for Wrongful Death
If your loved one has been killed and you believe that you have a claim for wrongful death, you may be entitled to compensation. Be sure to speak with a qualified Texas personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
The lawyers at Rochelle McCullough will help fight for what you deserve. To schedule a consultation, contact us today.