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Civil wrongful death cases can be filed by anyone who has had their civil or private rights violated by another individual or entity. A civil trial does not automatically guarantee a person is guilty under the law beyond a reasonable doubt.
Criminal cases can only be brought against an individual or entity by a government body. A prosecutor makes the case against the accused and seeks punishment such as a prison sentence. Prosecutors are obligated to prove beyond guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the standard burden of proof in criminal trials.
For example, in the prominent murder trial of O.J. Simpson, he was not found guilty in the criminal proceedings, but the decedents' families were able to file a civil wrongful death lawsuit and were awarded monetary damages. This is because civil cases do not have to prove guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt." In a civil case, the standard burden of proof is "by a preponderance of the evidence." Basically, this means that 51% or more of the evidence must support the claims brought by the survivors.
McCamy, Phillips, Tuggle & Fordham - Atlanta Wrongful Death Attorneys
300 Waugh Street
Dalton, Georgia 30720
Toll Free: 1-866-959-9483