Understanding Wrongful Death Cases

Wrongful Death
Wrongful Death Cases

Is a wrongful death case civil or criminal? Wrongful death involves the death of a person due to causes other than natural. Court usually considers wrongful deaths to be civil, but they also use different terminologies such as murder, man slaughter and homicide to address wrongful death cases.

How Civil and Criminal Wrongful Death Cases Differ?

When the death of a person is caused due to negligence, it can be either considered as a civil case or a criminal case based on various factors. To understand further, let’s go through some of its deciding factors.


For criminal and civil cases, a prosecutor is appointed to file various charges against the defendant. Charges include:

  • Involuntary Manslaughter

These charges are filed for an unlawful killing of another without malice or intent.

  • Voluntary Manslaughter

These cases fall short of murder charges due to mitigation circumstances or lack of premeditation.

  • Murder or Homicide

Murder or homicide involves cases charged for unlawful killing with malice or intent.

A prosecutor also could bring criminal action against the defendant for any negligence, which caused the death of a person. However, to prove the defendant guilty, a prosecutor should be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant has committed all the elements of crime charged.

If a person is charged for murder due to negligence, they may face various legal proceedings such as

  • The Court may ask the defendant to pay fine
  • The defendant may face life imprisonment
  • The Court may ask the defendant to spend some time on probation with the legal authorities.

Different Levels of Intent

Criminal cases and civil cases differ in many ways. Intent is one major factor which helps the prosecutor to analyze the defendant’s involvement in the case.

Criminal cases involve unlawful acts with intent to harm another party, whereas civil cases may not actually involve intent as the death may be caused by negligence.

Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Civil cases and criminal cases have different legal proceedings. While, civil cases are fought to claim compensation, criminal cases are fought to seek justice to the affected party.

Need of an Attorney

Whether, a criminal case or a civil case, an attorney is required to help you face the legal proceedings. They play an important role in compensating the affected party for the financial burden, loss of income and medical costs. Some of them are paid after winning the case and some even give free consultation.

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