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Wrongful Death and Criminal Justice: Navigating Dual Legal Proceedings

If your family lost a loved one due to negligence or criminal negligence, you could be forced to deal with two legal cases at once. Navigating dual legal proceedings in a wrongful death case and a criminal justice case can be legally and emotionally complex. Some evidence can even be used in both types of cases.

The best way to understand your options and the proceedings in both cases is to work with a wrongful death lawyer familiar with the laws of your state. Cases that can involve both legal types of proceedings can include drunk driving, intentional assault, murder, defective products, and premises liability. Your lawyer can clarify the type and weight of evidence each case requires.

The Impact of Criminal Litigation on a Wrongful Death Civil Lawsuit

A wrongful death can be the result of a crime. In cases where criminal activity has taken a life, the aftermath of your family’s loss could involve dual legal cases. The civil case (wrongful death lawsuit) allows you to seek financial damages. The criminal case penalizes the at-fault party, potentially involving imprisonment. 

Your civil case will not affect the outcome of the criminal case. The weight of evidence required in a criminal case is greater than that required in a civil case. If the at-fault party admits fault or is found guilty in criminal proceedings, their conviction could be used as evidence in a civil claim.

If your loved one’s demise was caused by an intentional injury, you could be involved in both a criminal case and a civil case to recover compensation. A lawyer can help you understand the impacts of each type of case. 

Statutes of Limitations Apply to Both Civil and Criminal Cases

Both civil and criminal litigation have statutes of limitations—filing deadlines—that apply to your case. In civil court, the statute of limitations is generally two years from the date of your loved one’s demise, according to PCCh § 335.1. Your lawyer will accurately interpret the filing deadline for you since missing it can mean:

  • You cannot file your wrongful death civil lawsuit at all.
  • Your civil lawsuit will be dismissed without being heard.

The criminal statute of limitations refers to the amount of time the state has to file charges against the at-fault party. This statute does not impact your civil case at all. 

Let a Wrongful Death Lawyer File a Civil Lawsuit on Your Family’s Behalf

Obtaining criminal justice and wrongful death compensation for your family’s loss can be challenging. When you choose to work with a wrongful death lawyer, they can clarify all the factors that affect wrongful death lawsuits, including the decedent’s:

  • Billetes Médicos
  • Age and income
  • Domestic contributions

Additional factors that affect your financial recovery include:

  • The negligent party’s actions
  • The decedent’s actions (per CIV § 1714)
  • The weight of your collected evidence
  • The settlement negotiation process

To recover the best possible compensation for your family, your legal team will examine all California civil and insurance laws that affect your family’s case. This can include insurance company response times, bad faith insurance tactics, and more. 

Damages You Can Request From the At-Fault Party’s Insurance Company

In addition to criminal charges, the legal implications of wrongful death include financial recovery for the surviving family. In most cases, this means the decedent’s parents, spouse, and children. 

Wrongful death damages can include:

  • Funeral, burial, and cremation costs
  • Loss of your loved one’s financial support
  • Loss of your loved one’s domestic support
  • Loss of consortium, companionship, and care

A negligent party does not have to be found guilty in a criminal court for your family to request compensation. Your lawyer will assess your claim and the types and amounts of damages your family is entitled to recover. They will also clarify who can file a wrongful death action in California.

Proving Negligence Is Crucial to Recovering Wrongful Death Compensation

Regardless of the outcome of any correlated criminal case, you have to prove the at-fault party acted negligently in causing your loved one’s demise. This means proving the legal components of negligence, including:

  • El deber de cuidar
  • La violación del deber
  • Causación
  • Damages

The evidence your legal team collects to prove negligence can include a police report, autopsy results, and your loved one’s death certificate. These pieces of evidence could also be used in a criminal case. Additionally, they can be emotionally triggering, so your lawyer will obtain them for you. 

Call (818) 507-8525 for a Free Evaluation of Your Wrongful Death Case

The tragic loss of a loved one in a crime could mean your family will have to cope with a wrongful death claim and a criminal justice trial simultaneously. Navigating dual legal proceedings can be overwhelming without a lawyer. 
Contact our case evaluation team llamando (818) 507-8525 today to find out how our client-focused team at KJT Grupo de Derecho can effectively navigate this complex legal issue for your family.

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