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If you’ve lost a loved one due to someone else's negligence, time is of the essence. Arm yourself with the knowledge to succeed.

Wrongful Death Lawsuit vs. Criminal Homicide

Brian Beckcom

Brian Beckcom


Losing a loved one unexpectedly is an earth shattering experience, especially when their death results from another's actions. In such cases, two legal paths may emerge: wrongful death and criminal homicide. While both address the death, they have distinct purposes, processes, and consequences.

Wrongful Death: Seeking Compensation for Loss

Wrongful death is a civil lawsuit filed by surviving family members against the party they believe caused their loved one's death. Unlike criminal charges, this civil action doesn't aim to punish the wrongdoer; it seeks financial compensation for the family's various losses. These losses can range from funeral expenses and medical bills to lost income and the emotional suffering caused by the death.

The burden of proof in wrongful death lawsuits is lower than in criminal cases. The family must typically show that it's more likely than not that the defendant's actions or negligence caused the death. Intent or motive isn't central; the focus is on proving the defendant's actions directly led to the fatality.

Criminal Homicide: Punishing the Offender

Criminal homicide, on the other hand, is a criminal offense prosecuted by the government when someone intentionally or unlawfully causes another's death. Crimes like murder or manslaughter fall under this umbrella. The goal is to punish the offender through imprisonment, probation, or fines, serving as a deterrent to future similar crimes.

Here, the government shoulders the burden of proof, needing to demonstrate the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, a much higher standard than in wrongful death lawsuits. Proof of intent is crucial, often requiring evidence of malice or knowing action that caused the death.

When Tragedy Strikes: Seeking Guidance

At VB Attorneys, we fight on behalf of families to secure compensation for the loss of their loved one. Our experienced wrongful death attorneys are here to offer guidance and legal expertise to support you and your family. We have helped families in similar situations to you, call us at (713) 224-7800 for a free consultation.