Criminal vs Civil Wrongful Death Cases – Insights from a Leading Las Vegas Law Firm

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), wrongful death was the fourth-leading cause of death in Nevada in 2021. Over 44,000 people lost their lives due to the negligence or actions of another party via car accidents, medical malpractice, defective products, poisoning, drowning, and criminal activities like shootings and assaults. Although these accidents and tragedies lead to the same ultimate outcome, these cases are broadly categorized into two types: Civil and criminal wrongful death cases.

In this post, we’ll help you understand the key differences between criminal vs. civil wrongful death cases. If you’ve lost a loved one due to another party’s actions or negligence, we recommend hiring an experienced Las Vegas wrongful death lawyer to help you seek justice and compensation for economic and non-economic damages.

Common Wrongful Death Cases in Nevada

Below are the most common cases that result in wrongful death:

  • Vehicle Accidents (Car, Bus, Truck, etc.): Wrongful deaths resulting from vehicle collisions, usually caused by negligent drivers, drunk driving, reckless behavior, or defective vehicles.
  • Medical Malpractice: Deaths caused by medical errors, misdiagnosis, surgical mistakes, medication errors, or inadequate healthcare.
  • Workplace Accidents: Fatal accidents caused by unsafe working conditions, insufficient training, or equipment malfunctioning.
  • Product Liability: Deaths from using defective products like medications, electronics, or machinery.
  • Criminal Acts: Homicides or deaths resulting from unlawful actions like physical assault, robbery, or domestic violence.
  • Suicide Due to Negligence: Cases where a person commits suicide due to the negligence or harmful actions of another party, such as bullying, harassment, threats, or physical harm.
  • Electrocution: Wrongful death cases arising from electrical accidents due to faulty wiring or equipment.
  • Drowning: Deaths caused by drowning in swimming pools, natural bodies of water, or other marine environments.
  • Aviation Accidents: Fatal airplane or helicopter crashes leading to catastrophic injuries and death.
  • Boating Accidents: Wrongful death caused by boat accidents, including collisions, capsizing, or falling overboard.
  • Fire and Explosions: Deaths caused by fires or explosions due to poor safety measures, faulty equipment and wiring, or arson.

Criminal vs. Civil Wrongful Death Cases – Key Differences

Criminal and civil wrongful death cases address fatal accidents and incidents caused by another party’s recklessness, negligence, or intentional acts. However, from a legal perspective, these cases differ in terms of litigation, penalties, and other factors. Criminal wrongful death cases focus on criminal liability. Hence, Las Vegas wrongful death lawyers aim to prosecute and imprison offenders for their actions. Conversely, civil wrongful death cases in Las Vegas focus on financial compensation for the deceased victim’s families.

Below are the key differences between these two distinct cases:

1. Burden of Proof

In criminal wrongful death case proceedings, the prosecution must prove the alleged responsible party’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Hence, they must provide substantial evidence to convince the judge and jury the defendant was liable for the deceased victim’s death. Conversely, the burden of proof in civil wrongful death cases is much lower, with attorneys relying on “preponderance of the evidence,” meaning they must prove that the likelihood of the defendant being guilty exceeds 50%.

2. Purpose and Penalties

The primary objective of a criminal wrongful death case is to impose heavy penalties on the responsible party and punish them for their actions through imprisonment. Meanwhile, civil cases focus on securing maximum financial compensation for the deceased victim’s family to cover funeral expenses, medical bills, lost income, and emotional distress.

Criminal cases are usually prosecuted based on Nevada and federal criminal law violations. Therefore, all cases against defendants are on behalf of the state or city. Meanwhile, civil wrongful death cases are initiated privately by the victim’s families and their Las Vegas wrongful death attorneys.  

4. Defendant’s Rights

Criminal wrongful death case defendants have several constitutional rights to prevent wrongful convictions, including the right to remain silent and the right to a fair trial. Although civil case defendants have the same rights, they don’t have an automatic right to a court-appointed attorney. However, they can still present their defense or hire an attorney to represent them.

Contact a Las Vegas Wrongful Death Lawyer Right Away!

The Bourassa Law Group specializes in civil and criminal wrongful death cases. Our Las Vegas law firm offers a dedicated team of wrongful death attorneys specializing in different case types leading to fatalities, from car accidents to defective products and slips and falls. Hence, you can rest assured we have the expertise and resources to build a winning case.

So, contact our team at 800-870-8910 to speak to a Las Vegas wrongful death lawyer immediately. We’ll discuss your case and plan the litigation accordingly.

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