The Difference Between Wrongful Death and Murder
Most people often wonder what the difference between murder and wrongful death is. When someone dies of unnatural causes, family and friends want to seek retribution for their loss. Was their loved one murdered, or should they sue for wrongful death?
The main differences between the two are the case type, supporting evidence needed, and the punishment.
Murder is a criminal case and charges are filed by the state because the act was considered a crime. The case is held in criminal court, and if the defendant is found guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt”, then they are more often than not punished via incarceration.
Wrongful death is held in civil court, and charges are filed against a specific person or business that is being accused of causing a person’s death because of their negligence or wrongful actions. For the defendant to be found responsible, they must be found guilty by a “preponderance of the evidence.” This means that the accused is “more likely than not,” guilty of causing the deceased’s death. Punishment for these types of cases is carried out solely by payable damages to the surviving family members.
Wrongful death is a death that was caused because of someone else’s negligence. This includes someone’s specific action or lack of action. The most common wrongful death cases stem from the following;
- Car Accidents – Wrongful death as a result of a car accident can be either the car manufacturers fault or another drivers fault. If the other vehicle’s operator was disobeying traffic laws and acting in a negligent manner, then they may at the blame. If an accident occurred because of a faulty product released by the manufacturer, then they are most likely at fault.
- Medical Malpractice- Medical malpractice can also result in wrongful death if doctors and other employees force a patient to wait to receive care when they are in need of medical attention. Other forms of wrongful death via medical malpractice would be a surgical error performed by a doctor, or a misdiagnosis of a terminal illness that would have been easily diagnosed by other professionals in the same field.
- Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse- Nursing homes and their employees can be found at fault for the wrongful death of an elderly person if they are guilty of abusing or neglecting a patient that was entrusted to their care.
When suing for wrongful death, a life expectancy table is used to determine what the deceased’s future earnings would have been. Their income at the time of death is multiplied by the number of years between their time of death and their date of retirement. In addition to this, variables such as retirement benefits are also included. This is usually the amount the defendant must pay in damages to surviving family members if they are found liable.
If you are suing for wrongful death after the loss of a loved one, it is almost always necessary to retain a lawyer. These cases can be extremely complex and have assistance from The Brown Firm, who specialize in wrongful death cases, can be extremely beneficial.
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Keep updated on today's top legal issues with our previous post on 4 Common Georgia Personal Injury Claims.