When a victim dies as a result of a criminal act, the family left behind by the crime is often left struggling financially in the wake of their loss. The deceased may have been the primary breadwinner of the household, or might have otherwise contributed in a significant way to the finances of the family. And then there is the emotional aspect of the loss, which can be harder to measure, but which causes great suffering nonetheless.
A criminal conviction may provide some measure of validation, but it doesn't help families who still have bills to pay after a loss of a loved one. But a wrongful death lawsuit can.
In a recent case in Pennsylvania, the adult children of a woman killed by an escaped inmate have filed a wrongful death claim against the jail and its warden, arguing that the death was preventable. The suit alleges that security lapses at the jail and a lack of timely warning to the community were contributing factors in the woman's death. The man charged in the murder is now in a different jail awaiting trial.
Even if an accused perpetrator is convicted, the family of the victim will still suffer financially and emotionally from the loss. A successful wrongful death claim against the jail and the warden can provide financial relief, largely in the form of compensation for potential future earnings. This is true even in cases in which the accused is acquitted of a crime, as was the case in the O.J. Simpson trial. This is because wrongful death suits have a less stringent burden of proof than do criminal cases, requiring the prosecution to prove only a preponderance of evidence instead of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.