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Wrongful death and murder: What's the difference?
The difference between wrongful death and murder may seem obvious to some, but an example is helpful to fully illustrate the difference between wrongful death and murder claims, cases and lawsuits: OJ Simpson was charged with murder. He was found not guilty by a jury. Beyond a reasonable doubt is the standard of proof in all criminal cases, including those in Missouri and Kansas, and the state did not prove murder charges beyond a reasonable doubt. Criminal cases are brought by the state of federal government on behalf of all citizens, not by the families of the wrongful death victims. After OJ Simpson was found not guilty of murder, the families of the deceased, Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman, brought lawsuits against him for wrongful death. Civil cases are brought to obtain monetary compensation and to punish the defendant monetarily but not including prison. The burden of proof in a wrongful death case is very different than in a criminal case. In civil lawsuits, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant negligently, recklessly or intentionally caused death by a preponderance of the evidence. Generally, this means that the plaintiff must show that it is more likely than not that the defendant caused the death. Another way of looking at it is proof of fifty one or more percent. If the jury finds that wrongful death has been proved by a preponderence of the evidence, they return a verdict against the defendant. That is what happened in the OJ Simpson case.