Fatal Motor Vehicle Accidents: Civil and Criminal Court
For those that have lost loved ones in fatal motor vehicle accidents in Portland, the death can be devastating. This person may have been their best their friend, their husband, their mother or father, their brother or sister, or simply the person that provided them with the greatest amount of support and care throughout their entire lives. When a wrongful death occurs, the circumstances surrounding the death may seem criminal, and in some cases, it just might be.
When dealing with the wrongful death of a loved one, it is important to understand the major differences between wrongful death (in legal terms) and criminal homicide. A Portland personal injury attorney will likely be your greatest ally when it comes to understanding these differences, but if you’re looking for general information, we have provided a summary of the basic issues here.
A criminal homicide, or murder as it is most commonly referred to, is usually charged at the state or local level. It is a criminal charge that is typically brought against a person who has taken the life of someone, intentionally or unintentionally. On the other hand, wrongful death is a civil charge, and these kinds of claims are typically brought against defendants by surviving family members. This represents the primary legal difference when it comes to comparing wrongful death claims and criminal homicide charges.
When a vast majority of the population thinks about criminal homicide, they often associate it with an intentional act that resulted in a death. In contrast, a wrongful death is an event where a person has died as a result of negligence, perhaps due to a car accident, a defective product, or medical malpractice. What we know from this information is that criminal homicide charges are almost always against individuals, while wrongful death claims can be brought against a person, a group of individuals, a company, or a larger entity.
In terms of criminal homicide, there are three types of charges that can be brought against an individual. These are (very basically) first degree murder (murder with intent), second degree murder (crime of passion), and third degree murder (manslaughter). Third degree murder charges are often the kinds of charges that may have a civil wrongful death suit attached to it. For example, a drunk driver may take the life of a pedestrian and be charged with manslaughter. Sometime during or after the trial, that same drunk driver may have a civil wrongful death suit filed against him/her by the surviving family members. This means that the drunk driver will be held accountable for his actions in both the criminal and the civil court systems.
In the end, it will be crucial to hire an attorney for a wrongful death claim who has had experience working on cases of fatal motor vehicle accidents in Portland. These professional legal experts will be able to assist you in understanding the many facets of your wrongful death case, and to provide you the kind of guidance that will allow you to seek justice and hold responsible parties accountable for their negligence.