Murder and Homicide Attorneys
Personal Injury Lawyers - Representing People Nationwide
The murder rate in the United States has declined sharply since 1992. But that is no solace for the family of a loved one who has become the victim of a homicide.
Coping with grief is particularly difficult for a homicide survivor. The shock, denial, anger and depression experienced are compounded by the knowledge that his or her loved one was taken intentionally. And the grief is further complicated by other factors such as police investigations and intrusions by the media.
In the immediate aftermath of a homicide, most survivors are too traumatized to seek help. And even with the best of grief counseling, coping with a homicide takes time. But it begins with acknowledging that it is amongst the most difficult types of grief.
Even if a suspect is apprehended, the legal process may seem needlessly complicated and frustrating. And if the investigation drags on, or the suspect is not convicted, the survivors may feel angry that justice is not or has not been done.
There may be many issues surrounding the homicide that may never be resolved. And life for the survivors will never be the same again. But it may help to know that the intense feeling of rage and the fear of losing one's sanity are a normal response and that they will decrease over time. And certainly therapy and grief counseling may help a survivor cope until then.
But homicide survivors should also be aware that there are may be legal recourse outside that of the criminal justice system. In some cases, a civil action in the form of a wrongful death suit may be brought by the bereaved against parties whose intentional, reckless or negligent conduct, including that of any suspects, caused a loved one to die.
One advantage of a wrongful death proceeding is that unlike in criminal proceedings, the standard of proof is a "preponderance of evidence" rather than "clear and convincing" or "beyond a reasonable doubt". Wrongful death suits are therefore much easier to prevail in.
Another advantage is that parents, spouses and the children of a wrongful death victim are usually all eligible to seek compensation for the loss of a loved one. And not only may they recover compensation for economic losses, but also for the pain and suffering endured. In an intentional death, or homicide, additional punitive damages, which can be substantial, may be awarded.
Tort procedures such as those used in wrongful death suits, however, have become increasingly complicated. As such, only an attorney who specializes in these types of cases will likely be able to secure the maximum compensation you may be entitled to. You should also be aware that unlike criminal homicide cases, most states have a strict statute of limitations that applies to wrongful death cases. This means that you have a limited amount of time by which you must file your claim.