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Wrongful Death Cases Can Provide Justice When the Justice System Can’t

Acts of violence happen all around us. We accept that because we have to. But most of us try to get by with the assumption that when a violent act happens, particularly when it leads to someone’s death, the justice system will step in to make sure the person responsible gets the appropriate punishment.

That is how the justice system is supposed to work, but it only succeeds sometimes. There are many reasons why someone who has directly caused the wrongful death of another might not receive the appropriate punishment from the justice system. To begin with, American justice is built upon the assumption that the accused is innocent until proven guilty, meaning there has to be a lot of conclusive evidence put forward to prove that person is guilty. Things can go wrong in a trial. The prosecutor can get the legal strategy wrong. The jury can be swayed by an emotional appeal. The evidence may just not be there to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that the person accused of committing the crime really committed the crime.

The horror of not just losing a loved one but also seeing justice fail to hold the right people accountable is almost unthinkable. Thankfully, there is another way to get justice: a wrongful death suit. As Glover Law Firm points out, this civil case is distinct from the criminal case. Regardless of the results of the criminal case, the civil wrongful death case can go forward and may find more success. A famous example of this is OJ Simpson being found not guilty in the criminal trial, but being forced to pay $25 million in damages after being found “liable” in the civil trial.

There are several major benefits to pursuing a wrongful death civil case. Perhaps most importantly for the family of the lost loved one, a civil case has a lower standard of evidence. Where there is no room for doubt in a criminal case, a civil case just has to prove it is more likely to be true than not. Many wrongful deaths from violence can be proved to this standard, even when they can’t be proven in a criminal court. Further, while a civil case cannot lead to imprisonment, it can lead to significant financial penalties against the accused, and those penalties all go to the grieving family.

This kind of justice isn’t completely ideal in some ways. Ideally, of course, the family would see the person whose violent behavior took their loved one convicted first in criminal court and then in civil court. That is justice working perfectly. However, we have to remember that there are avenues to pursue if justice seems waylaid in the criminal court. There’s still a lot a family can do to get some sense of justice and closure after their tragic loss.

I hope this information is useful to those who are going to through that nightmare we all hope never occurs to us. Knowing your legal options can help make sure you aren’t forced to feel cheated out of justice while experiencing such a serious loss.

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