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Q: How is “wrongful death” different from murder?

A: Unlike a murder case, a Florida wrongful death case is usually a result of negligence. A person has died as a result of neglect or by the direct actions of another.

Murder is legally defined as the killing of another human being with malicious intent. Many wrongful deaths are caused accidentally, and are therefore not malicious. This is taken into consideration into the way the cases are tried: murder is a criminal offense, while wrongful death is argued in a civil lawsuit.

A wrongful death may arise as a result of Florida medical malpractice. For instance, if a doctor failed to perform adequate testing for a condition and a patient died as a result, the patient’s survivors could sue for wrongful death. The doctor could not be tried for murder, as the failure to provide testing was not purposeful, and the doctor did not intend to cause harm.

A murder case may also arise if there is a possibility for gain. A wrongful death case may develop into a murder case, such as a loved one in a Florida nursing home left to die intentionally after leaving a substantial amount to a hospital attendant in his will. However, such cases are rare and are usually due to simple neglect.

Just because your loved one was killed in an accident does not mean there is no fault. If someone you love has died as a result of negligence, contact Fetterman & Associates for advice from an experienced Florida wrongful death attorney.

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