Charges related to death are very serious and difficult for all involved. There are two categories that may be hard for some to distinguish: wrongful death and manslaughter. Though both involve the death of another person, there are key differences between the two. Here, we will discuss the two and their differences.
Wrongful death is defined as a death that occurs due to the negligence or intentional act of another person. In order for a wrongful death claim to be successful, the plaintiff must prove that:
- The death was caused by another person’s negligence or wrongful act.
- The deceased would have had a right to bring a personal injury claim against the person if they had not died.
- There are surviving spouses, children, or dependents who have suffered financial damages as a result of the death.
A wrongful death claim is a civil action, and not a criminal one. This means that the burden of proof is lower than it would be in a criminal case. In order for a person to be held liable in a civil wrongful death suit, the wrongful death attorney for the plaintiff must prove that the defendant is responsible by a “preponderance of the evidence.” This is a lower standard than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” burden of proof in criminal cases.
Manslaughter is defined as the unlawful killing of another person without malice aforethought. There are two types of manslaughter: voluntary and involuntary.
Voluntary manslaughter occurs when a person kills another person in the heat of the moment, without premeditation or planning. It is often seen as a crime of passion. An example of voluntary manslaughter would be if someone caught their spouse cheating and killed them in the moment out of rage.
Involuntary manslaughter, on the other hand, is an accidental killing that occurs as a result of recklessness or criminal negligence. An example of involuntary manslaughter would be if a driver was text messaging and ran a red light, causing a fatal accident.
The key difference between the two is that manslaughter is always considered a crime, whereas wrongful death is typically used for civil lawsuits. The burden of proof is also higher in manslaughter cases, as the prosecution must prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The penalties for manslaughter are typically less severe than those for second or first-degree murder charges, though they can still be very serious. The sentence will depend on the circumstances of the case and the jurisdiction in which it is tried.
Both wrongful death and manslaughter are serious, life-changing charges that can have a devastating impact on the lives of all involved. If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence or intentional act of another person, it is important to speak to an experienced wrongful death attorney who can help you understand your rights and options.
Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.