If you lost a loved one as a result of another person’s actions, that person may face criminal and civil charges. Criminal charges exist separately from a wrongful death claim, which is a civil case, and are brought by a lawyer representing the state, called a prosecutor. 

The prosecutor may bring a case against that person for breaking the law, but they don’t represent you, your loss, or your future. That’s where a wrongful death claim comes into play. With the help of an experienced attorney, a wrongful death claim can allow you to seek justice from the perpetrator directly and recover financial damages. A prosecutor represents the state, not you. An attorney in a wrongful death case will fight for you and your interests alone.

wrongful death vs criminal case

Criminal Charges and Wrongful Death Claims: What’s the Difference?

When a person dies as a result of another person’s conduct, people often think of the court cases that arise from that death to be criminal in nature, such as a prosecutor bringing charges for murder, homicide, or manslaughter. 

However, while criminal cases may assist in getting justice, prosecutors don’t represent you. You may serve a role in the case, but ultimately, the prosecutor does not represent your interests or need to consider your desires in how they proceed with the case. A prosecutor is representing the state (or, in cases of federal law, the United States) and may bring criminal charges against a defendant for breaking the law. 

Prosecutors fight for society as a whole, enforcing the law and promoting general public safety. Potential penalties for these cases include jail time, probation, fines, or even, in some jurisdictions, the death penalty. In a criminal case, a prosecutor must prove that the crime was committed “beyond a reasonable doubt”, an incredibly high standard to meet. That means that a criminal case may not succeed if the evidence isn’t abundant. While a criminal case may prevent the perpetrator from acting again, it doesn’t protect your future and your legacy the way a wrongful death claim can.

Wrongful death claims exist outside of criminal law, and are considered a civil lawsuit. A wrongful death claim involves you and your family, with the help of an experienced legal team, directly facing the defendant, seeking justice. 

While punishments like probation and jail time cannot come from a civil case, there are financial remedies that can be awarded due to the loss you’ve suffered for funeral expenses, any outstanding medical bills for your loved one’s care, lost income due to your loved one’s passing, any property damage that the perpetrator caused, pain and suffering, and a loss of companionship. While no amount of money could ever bring back the person you’ve lost, a wrongful death claim allows you to face the perpetrator directly, and can give you financial security as you grieve and rebuild your life. Wrongful death claims are also far more likely to be successful than criminal cases, as you and your attorney only need to show a preponderance of the evidence. That means you only need to prove that it’s more likely than not that the perpetrator’s actions caused the death of your loved one. 

Your team only needs to convince the judge and jury that it’s more than 50% likely that the perpetrator’s actions caused the loss of your loved one.

Seek Justice for Your Loss. Wrongful Death Lawyers Serving Yuma, San Luiz, Somerton, and Beyond.

The qualified, experienced team at Territorial Law is prepared to advocate for you, your family, your future, and the loved one you’ve lost in your wrongful death claim. Let compassionate, skilled professionals with a client-centered mindset guide you through the process with your best interests at heart and help you win. Contact us today, your first consultation is free!