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Is a criminal conviction required for a wrongful death case?

Your loved one was killed during what you believe was a criminal act -- a car accident intentionally caused due to road rage. The person who allegedly carried out that act goes to court. On a technicality, though, he or she is not convicted.

It's a crushing blow, and you also start wondering if it's going to have an even bigger impact. You were hoping not only for a criminal conviction, but also to start a wrongful death case. You need compensation for all of the medical costs, funeral costs, and lost wages, and you were hoping to get it.

Is that impossible now? Can you win a wrongful death case even if the person is not convicted in criminal court?

You can, and it does happen. While a criminal conviction can help, you don't need one. The standard of proof is very high in criminal court -- there cannot be any reasonable doubt that the crime occurred -- but it's not as high in civil court. For instance, there could be a preponderance of evidence indicating that the person who allegedly killed your loved one was liable, even if there is not quite enough evidence to convict on criminal grounds -- or if a technicality ends the criminal case.

Naturally, you may still feel wronged. You're not just looking for a payout; you want justice to be served.

However, it is important to understand the differences between civil court and criminal court. While this may not be all of the justice that you were hoping for, you do have some very realistic financial costs, and you may still be able to seek compensation.

Source: FindLaw, "What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?," accessed Aug. 04, 2017

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