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What happens to a wrongful death case when there is also a criminal case?

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

A wrongful death occurs when someone causes the death of another person. It could happen in an auto accident, due to a hazard at someone’s home or as a result of a criminal act. In many situations, the person who caused the death is also liable under the criminal code.

If the state decides to prosecute, it should not have an impact on your wrongful death claim.

Two different types of cases

A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil matter, which means it occurs outside the criminal court system. Because of this, any criminal charges would be in a different type of court. Furthermore, while a personal representative of the deceased brings the wrongful death case, it is only the prosecutor who can bring criminal charges.

In a wrongful death lawsuit, the family can recoup money to pay for expenses and losses associated with the death. In a criminal case, the court will punish the person, if found guilty, through fines and potential jail or prison time.

The law is on your side

Under the wrongful death statute, the state ensures that you have the right to bring a claim regardless of any criminal action. The law says that even in the absence of criminal charges, the civil case may move forward. Even if a court found the individual not guilty, a wrongful death case can continue. The main point to understand is the burden of proof in a civil case is much less than in a criminal case, so it is possible for someone to not be criminally liable but to still be liable under the wrongful death claim.