Wrongful Death: The Difference Between Criminal and Civil Cases

David Monteleone
Illinois Accident and Wrongful Death Lawyer

  Posted  |  Category : Wrongful Death Lawyer

When a person wrongfully dies due the actions of another, surviving family members may automatically think that the death constitutes a murder. Further, they may have questions about filing criminal charges as a result. While a wrongful death charge may result in both criminal and civil penalties, the two types of cases are very different. If you have lost a loved one due to wrongful death in Illinois, here is an overview of what you need to know about criminal vs. civil law.

Criminal Charges & Wrongful Death
When the death of a person would not have occurred but for criminal action, the state (prosecution) will bring forth charges against the accused. Criminal charges for wrongful death in Illinois are first and second degree murder, as well as involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide.

A conviction in criminal court will have criminal penalties, most often in the form of jail time. However, a conviction in criminal court will not provide any financial recompense to surviving family members.

Civil Charges & Wrongful Death
Having no bearing on the criminal system is the civil system of law. The surviving family members of a deceased person who wrongfully died due to the action of another may bring a tort against the at-fault party. A conviction in civil court will carry no criminal penalties, i.e. a person will not go to jail or have a mark on their permanent record if they are found guilty in civil court. A conviction in civil court will, however, provide financial compensation to plaintiffs named in the suit. Who can bring forth a civil lawsuit is different from criminal proceedings as well; in a criminal case, the action is brought forth by the state, whereas in a civil case, the plaintiff is the representative of the deceased.

Types of damages that surviving family members may recover in a wrongful death civil lawsuit include lost wages, funeral and burial costs, medical expenses prior to the injury, loss of companionship and guidance, and any other economic or noneconomic damages incurred by the plaintiff as a result of death.

Keep in mind that an individual may be found guilty in criminal court but not guilty in civil court and visa versa.

File Your Civil Lawsuit Today
Losing a loved one is terrible. When you have lost a loved one due to the wrongful act of another, you should meet with an experienced Illinois wrongful death lawyer to discuss your options for filing a lawsuit and recovering compensation. Serving Rockford, Belvidere, Loves Park, Rochelle, Roscoe, Freeport, Marengo, Cherry Valley, and the entirety of the Chicago area, the team at Fisk & Monteleone LTD., is ready to meet with you to discuss your claim in more depth today. We can help you to understand the types of damages you can recover, how to file an action, how to prove negligence, and more. We do not handle criminal cases.

To schedule your free case consultation with our experienced attorneys now, call us at 815-209-9030.


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