When it comes to murder, culpability for the acts that led to a person's death is usually simple. If a person had the motivation to end a life and took actions to make it happen, that person is guilty of murder. The issue may not be so simple when it comes to civil liability for a death.
The criminal trial of the defendant in a murder case is underway. A 51-year-old Merrimack man is suspected of strangling his ex-fiancee after she ended their relationship. They began dating six months earlier when the suspect was released from prison on parole. The defendant sent a letter to a local newspaper blaming the Department of Corrections and the Parole Board in New Hampshire for the death. He suggested that the victim's family file a wrongful death lawsuit against the Granite State's correctional system for failing to address the suspect's mental health.
"They knew about my mental health history and refused to do anything about it," the defendant wrote. He also claimed he told a parole officer about his mental problems but was rebuffed due to lack of resources.
Many government departments and contracted companies have an explicit responsibility to maintain public safety. When these duties are not fulfilled, the entities may be considered liable for financial damages to compensate the victims of this lapse.
An attorney can help the survivors of a victim of wrongful death sort out their options in civil court. Although it is impossible to put a dollar value on a life, a settlement or verdict can help a family recover.