If you lost somebody you loved in a hospital due to staff negligence, you might think of it as a “murder”. You might be saying to yourself and to other that the hospital where your loved one died “murdered” him or her. There is a distinct difference between a murder and a case of wrongful death. Ask any miami personal injury attorney for their opinion and they will tell you that this is indeed true.
Here are some basic differences:
1. Murder cases are handled in a criminal court, while wrongful death cases go to civil courts. Because of this, the only penalty for causing wrongful death is financial, which means that nobody can go to prison for causing wrongful death. On the other hand, you are sentenced for prison if you commit murder.
2. All murder cases are filed by the state, while wrongful death cases are filed by a relative of the deceased, usually the spouse or a child, or in some cases a more distant relative.
3. There is also a difference in terms of burden of proof. In cases of murder cases, the person is innocent until proven guilty by the judge. In case of civil cases, the rule of “more likely than not ” applies, which assumes that it is more likely for the defendant to be guilty rather than not guilty. A good example here is the case of O.J.Simpson who was charged with first degree murder by a criminal court. The jury found him not guilty though. A few years later the case went to a civil court where Simpson was charged with causing wrongful death. This is where he was found guilty and charged with $33M worth of damages of the families of the deceased parties.
Before you file a lawsuit suspecting wrongful death, you might want to ask your lawyer whether it was really wrongful death or murder. He or she should be able to guide you to the correct place where the trial will take place.