How does a criminal case impact a wrongful death lawsuit?

| Jan 26, 2021 | Firm News |

If a loved one is a victim of a criminal act, it is possible for you to file a lawsuit against the guilty party. It is most common to wait to file your wrongful death case until after the criminal case. 

FindLaw explains that you can usually use evidence from the criminal case to prove your case, but you should be aware that a wrongful death claim comes with a lower burden of proof than a criminal case. 

Win or lose

The outcome of the criminal case will often have no impact on the outcome of your wrongful death case. Of course, if the court found the person guilty, it will strengthen your case, but you can win a wrongful death lawsuit even with a not guilty verdict in the criminal case. This goes back to the burden of proof. 

For example, it is far easier to prove someone held the liability in causing the death of your loved one than it is to prove that person is guilty of murder. The civil and criminal systems are much different in that aspect. 


In a criminal case, the prosecutor must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt for a homicide. In a civil case, you just need to show enough evidence to prove it is reasonable to believe the person caused the death. 

Furthermore, the elements of wrongful death are much easier to prove. You only need to show someone died due to the negligence of the other person and that you suffered a monetary loss due to the person’s death. 

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