Losing a loved one due to an act of violence is tragic and unexpectedly cuts a life short. When a person in the Birmingham area loses a loved one due to a criminal act, they may have a remedy in civil law through a wrongful death claim.
When can a wrongful death claim be pursued?
Wrongful death lawsuits can be pursued if the following elements are met. The victim must have died due to an act of negligence or with intent to cause harm. In addition, the victim’s survivors must have suffered financial damages due to the death. Finally, a personal representative must be assigned to the decedent’s estate.
How are wrongful death suits different from criminal proceedings?
When a loved one is killed due to the commission of a crime, it is entirely possible for a criminal trial and a civil lawsuit to be based on the same deadly incident. However, the burden of proof in a criminal trial is different from that in a civil lawsuit.
In a criminal trial, guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The burden of proof in a wrongful death claim is lower. Liability only needs to be proven by a preponderance of the evidence in a civil claim.
In addition, the outcome of criminal trials is different from civil lawsuits. In a criminal trial a defendant may be found guilty and may be penalized by serving jail time or paying fines to the state. However, in a wrongful death claim, if the defendant is found liable, they will pay compensation to the plaintiff rather than going to jail.
If your loved one was killed due to an act of violence, explore all your options
If your loved one died due to an act of violence, you may be left stunned, grieving and angry. However, it is important in such situations to understand all your legal options, including the possibility of a wrongful death lawsuit. This post does not contain legal advice pertaining to any specific person’s situation, so those who want more information on wrongful death claims in Alabama will want to seek the assistance of a professional.