Friday, May 22, 2015

Wrongful Death After a Violent Crime

As reported1 by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), 970 people lost their lives in the state due to violent crime in 2013 alone. Though this number is the lowest since 2005, it still means that almost one thousand families were left mourning the sudden and needless death of loved ones. Though these families may attend the criminal trial of the perpetrator and see them sent to prison, surviving family members are often left with financial and emotional issues following a violent homicide.

The courts recognize the issues that surviving loved ones face and Florida law2 allows them to file a wrongful death claim against the person who was responsible for the death. Though wrongful death claims are usually associated with car accidents or other unintentional deaths, this type of case also can arise following a violent act. If your family member has been killed, you likely have a strong case for wrongful death and should consult with a wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible to discuss how you can recover.

Separate criminal and civil cases
Following a homicide, law enforcement officers will hopefully be able to arrest the responsible individuals, who will then usually face criminal charges issued by the prosecutors. Homicide cases often go to trial, where the prosecutor will have to prove that the defendant committed the homicide beyond a reasonable doubt in order to secure a conviction. A convicted offender will then face penal consequences such as a long-term prison sentence or even the death penalty. While these criminal consequences can be severe, a criminal case often does little in the way of compensation for the surviving family members.

A wrongful death suit is filed in civil court and is completely separate from any case that takes place in criminal court. However, much of the evidence used in the criminal case can be also used in the wrongful death case. An attorney who understands this type of violent crime wrongful death claim will know how to use the prosecutor's evidence and a criminal conviction to help surviving family receive a proper financial award.

Additionally, even if the perpetrator is found “not guilty” in criminal court due to a lack of evidence, it is still possible that surviving family members may win in a wrongful death claim. This is because the burden of proof is considerably lower in a civil wrongful death case than in a criminal case. Because of the possibility that a convicted offender will lose their freedom or even their life, a criminal jury must find that a defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest burden of proof in any type of legal case in the United States. In a wrongful death case,  no one's life is at stake and a win only has financial implications. For this reason, family members must only prove the wrongful death by a preponderance of the evidence, which means it is “more likely than not” that the wrongful death occurred. This often makes it easier to recover in a wrongful death case even if a defendant was not convicted.

Contact an experienced wrongful death attorney at the Dolman Law Group for a free consultation today
Though no amount of compensation will ever turn back time or bring your loved one back to you, it ca help your family cover expenses related to the death and other bills after losing the support of the deceased individual. Wrongful death claims can further bring about a greater sense of justice and closure, especially in tragic cases of violent homicides. However, you only get one chance at a wrongful death case, so you do not want to risk losing your chance to hold the offender accountable by not having adequate representation. At the Dolman Law Group in Clearwater, Florida, our team of lawyers has extensive experienced successfully handling wrongful death claims under Florida law. We understand the type of evidence that must be presented to prove your claim and have the resources necessary to gather such evidence. We have the skill and ability to handle any legal issues that may arise, so please call our office at 727-451-6900 to discuss your case for free today.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756
(727) 451-6900


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