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What Is the Difference Between Murder and Wrongful Death?

Nov 18, 2022 | Wrongful Death

Understanding the Difference between a wrongful death (civil lawsuit) and murder (a criminal facing murder charges case) can help you consider your legal choices and decide if hiring a personal injury attorney is best for your surviving family members.

The Difference Between Wrongful Death and Murder

The contrast between wrongful death and murder cases causes some people to become confused. Facts make the distinction.

Civil and criminal cases are the two most general categories in the US. Individuals can bring legal claims against each other or insurance companies or organizations representing people or businesses.

People who retain their private counsel may file a civil lawsuit. Except in contempt cases, civil litigation rarely leads to jail time. At least not directly; that is unless somehow the evidence presented in a civil suit demonstrates that criminal punishments by the state are justified); instead, it results in the payment of damages. State prosecutors brought a criminal charge for the state and the victims.

Civil Cases vs. Criminal Cases

Wrongful Death

A wrongful death lawsuit is the consequence of a civil action. This means that the defendant was liable for the victim’s death due to a deliberate or negligent act, and the victim’s family or estate brought the wrongful death lawsuit.

Contrarily, murder lawsuits are criminal proceedings. This means that the state brings the allegation of illegal murder to justify the defendant engaging in socially unacceptable behavior.

Wrongful death includes murder, but the state is the client. However, not all wrongful deaths constitute murders.


Murder is a criminal intent that establishes a person’s guilt or innocence in a murder case. When someone intentionally kills another person, it is considered murder. Intentional wrongdoing can result in wrongful death cases, but accidents and careless behavior can also.

The Burden of Proof in Murder Cases

Since murder is always regarded as a crime, the prosecution must establish the defendant’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.”  However, the material representation is not made on behalf of the actual family members because they are not the client.

Contrarily, the burden of proof in wrongful death litigation differs because of the party or anyone involved in the civil claim.

The surviving family becomes the client of the wrongful death case lawyer if they do so. In a wrongful death lawsuit, the family is a self-represented civil client if they act personally.

The Burden of Proof in Wrongful Death Cases

In wrongful death cases, the plaintiff’s attorney must demonstrate that the defendant is more likely than not to be at fault for the death. This is the “preponderance of the evidence” criterion in civil cases.

In a wrongful death action, a lawyer must persuade the jury that the defendant committed the allegations in the civil complaint with a probability of at least 51%.

Contact KAASS LAW Wrongful Death Attorneys Today

Contact KAASS LAW experienced attorneys today if you need assistance navigating the complexities of bringing a wrongful death lawsuit due to the actions of another.

We understand that money cannot take away the pain of losing a loved one. We know that a wrongful death lawsuit can help victims of wrongful death or murder with financial damages and other costs.

Contact a Los Angeles Attorney today for a consultation on your case. Wrongful death cases are one of our many practices. Please dial 310-933-5171 to speak to our specialized attorneys. Call us now!