Wrongful death is not a crime, but the circumstances that lead to it will help determine whether it is considered a civil or criminal case.
Wrongful death is not always easy to prove. The conditions surrounding such a case can be convoluted and confusing to sort through. If you’ve had a loved one die in an accident, you might be wondering if you’re eligible to file a lawsuit. Continue reading to learn more about how these cases operate.
What Is the Difference Between Civil and Criminal Cases?
To better understand wrongful death, let’s discuss the differences between criminal and civil law. Criminal cases deal with behaviors that are an offense to the public, society, or the state. Common criminal cases include theft, murder, and assault. Conversely, civil cases deal with behavior that is an injury to an individual or private party. Common civil cases include property damage, slander, defamation, or a breach of contract.
What Is Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death claim is a civil suit where a victim is seeking monetary damages due to the death of a loved one. In such a civil case, the plaintiff is usually a close family member representing the deceased. The defendant is whom the plaintiff is looking toward for monetary gain. In these death cases, the plaintiff asserts that the defendant was responsible for the death of the loved one, whether it was negligent or intentional.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Case
Damages in a wrongful death case, or the categories for which a survivor might be able to receive compensation, include:
- The deceased’s pain and suffering before passing away
- The medical costs the deceased sustained as a result of injury
- Loss of inheritance due to the death
- Loss of services the deceased would have provided
- Loss of the companionship of a relationship
- Loss of potential childcare, such as guidance support or parenting
- Cost of the funeral
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of the deceased’s future income
Proving Wrongful Death
When a lawsuit is filed, the burden of proof falls onto the plaintiff, who will show that the defendant, either intentionally or negligently, caused the death of the loved one. The plaintiff needs to prove the following:
- Duty – A duty is performing care that keeps a person safe or away from something that would harm another person. If someone is liable for a death, a judge will decide if the deceased was entitled to a duty of care.
- Proving a breach of duty – If the judge finds that the deceased was entitled to the duty, the plaintiff must provide evidence showing that it was not completed.
- Proving causation – After confirming that the defendant breached their duty, the plaintiff must prove that the breach was the reason behind the death.
- Proving damages – The plaintiff also needs to provide evidence of the injuries inflicted on the deceased.
Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton Is Here for You
Losing a family member due to wrongful death is one of the most emotionally draining feelings anyone can experience. If you intend to receive compensation for your loss, file a lawsuit with Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton as soon as possible. Our personal injury attorneys will handle the case to ensure you receive compensation.
We serve Utah residents and have offices in Provo, Orem, Saratoga Springs, and West Jordan, Utah. Schedule your free case evaluation today.