It might seem unlikely that an individual would be found guilty in civil court for the death of another party if a criminal court has arrived at a not-guilty verdict. However, many Virginia residents remember this outcome being the case for O.J. Simpson in the 1990s. The standard of proof for a guilty verdict in criminal proceedings is quite high, but only a preponderance of evidence is needed to arrive at a guilty verdict in civil action for wrongful death.
There are many situations that can be considered for wrongful death litigation at a civil level. Accidents on the road, in the air or in a private or public facility are some examples. Deaths related to medical malpractice or criminal action can also be subject to wrongful death litigation. The main factors determining whether a wrongful death claim would be appropriate are the death of a person, the negligence or intention of another party in causing the death and the existence of surviving relatives suffering financially because of the death. Litigation must be brought by a personal representative of the estate in question.
There are many areas of loss to be considered in a wrongful death case. The losses could include the support previously provided through the decedent’s employment or other income. Services such as caring for one’s children might also be viewed as financial losses. The cost to attend to a decedent’s final affairs, which could include their burial or cremation, is another example of a pecuniary loss.
The loss of a loved one can be overwhelming, especially if immediate financial challenges are faced as well. Legal insight could be helpful in dealing with various avenues of recourse in an accidental or intentional death. In addition to dealing with the more obvious individuals or entities contributing to the loss, a lawyer might look for underlying factors such as faulty products or improper signs in an area in which an accident occurred.