It is usually best to file a civil wrongful death claim even when the outcome of the criminal case has not yet been decided. There is only a limited window of time for survivors to file a lawsuit, and the sooner family members speak with a Rhode Island wrongful death attorney, the better their chances of recovering compensation. Wrongful death civil and criminal cases Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum

Differences Between a Wrongful Death Claim and a Criminal Case

A wrongful death is a special circumstance that can result in two separate legal actions: a claim in civil court and a case in criminal court. Criminal charges are brought by a government prosecutor and can result in imprisonment, fines, and other penalties. Civil claims, on the other hand, are filed by survivors whose lives have been affected by someone’s misconduct. If a civil claim is successful, the only reward for the survivors is financial compensation.

There are some important differences in your civil case and a criminal case, including:

Negligence is enough 

While criminal actions need conclusive proof of intentional or reckless acts, a civil lawsuit only requires proof that an at-fault party’s negligent actions caused the death.

Lower burden of proof 

Federal law requires attorneys in a criminal case to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. However, the burden of proof in a civil case is much lower. In a wrongful death claim, you only need enough evidence to show that the at-fault party’s actions are the most probable cause of your loved one’s death.

Potential for punitive damages

In addition to economic damages in a wrongful death case, survivors may be able to collect punitive damages to punish the at-fault party.

Has Your Loved One Died To The Negligence Of Others?

If your loved one died to due the negligence of others you need to speak with an experienced wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Warwick office directly at 401.946.3200 to schedule your free consultation. We help families in Providence, Warwick and all areas of Rhode Island. 


Christopher L. Russo
Helping Rhode Island personal injury victims for nearly three decades to get the compensation they deserve.