Hastings Woman Killed By Estranged Husband
In October, a Hastings woman was stabbed to death by her estranged husband, who had been stalking her. The woman had gone home from work with a friend, and as she stopped to check the premises for the suspect’s car, the suspect ambushed her. She was stabbed 11 times, passing away at the scene. The suspect was arrested roughly 10 minutes later and charged with murder. The family had no life insurance, and is having to raise money to bury their loved one. In some cases, a wrongful death lawsuit may help to raise that money, so it is important that you know it is an option if you are ever unfortunate enough to find yourself in this situation.
Civil vs. Criminal Law
Domestic violence does sadly end in murder, and it tends to happen more often than most people think. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) reported 200 domestic violence-related murders in 2019, plus 21 cases of manslaughter, which is murder without intent to kill. When someone is charged with murder, the case is handled in criminal court, with the state prosecuting and the possible punishment being jail time.
That said, once a criminal trial has concluded, regardless of whether the person is convicted or not, it is possible to file a lawsuit against the person to try and hold them liable in civil court for causing the death of another person. The family has a right to seek compensation for the sudden loss of their loved one, regardless of any criminal consequences. In civil court, the injured person (or, in wrongful death cases, the family of the injured person) is the one prosecuting, so to speak, while the alleged perpetrator is the defendant. If a civil defendant is found liable, they may be required to pay quite a lot of money in damages.
In order to establish a possible case for wrongful death in Florida, you must be able to show that the deceased person passed away because of the defendant’s “wrongful act, negligence, default,” or breach of contract/warranty, and that the deceased person would have been able to bring a claim for damages against the person had they lived. So, in the Hastings case, the deceased woman’s family would have to show that (1) she would still be alive if not for the defendant’s “wrongful act” – and domestic abuse and stalking are both decidedly wrongful acts; and (2) that she would be able to sue the defendant for damages if she had lived. In this case, both criteria are met.
It is also worth noting that having a criminal trial before a civil trial for wrongful death can actually help your case. The burden of proof is higher in criminal court than in civil court, which means that most evidence that is admissible in a criminal trial will also be admissible for your civil case. This generally will mean a shorter discovery period and overall, a shorter time in court.
Contact A Tampa Wrongful Death Attorney
Losing a loved one is an agonizing experience – and losing them to someone else’s actions is far worse. If you have questions or concerns about filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida, calling the Tampa wrongful death attorneys at the Rinaldo Law Group may help. We can offer compassionate and understanding representation at a time where you may feel your most adrift. Contact us today for a free consultation.