Involuntary Manslaughter

It is always tragic when a human life is lost because of another human being’s actions.  However, voluntary manslaughter, 2nd degree manslaughter, and involuntary manslaughter cases can be particularly tragic for not only the victim and the victim’s survivors but also for the accused. 

In involuntary manslaughter cases the accused did not have the intent to kill but rather committed an unlawful or negligent act that killed another person.  Intoxication manslaughter is one type of involuntary manslaughter, for example.  However, deaths that occur in the heat of passion are considered voluntary manslaughter, rather than involuntary manslaughter, in most states. 

Regardless of the type of manslaughter charges that are brought by the state in criminal court, or the outcome of the criminal case, the estate of the decedent may file a survival action in civil court for damages.  A survival action or wrongful death lawsuit is important because it is the only way to recover monetary damages for manslaughter.  Criminal courts may not award financial damages to survivors. 

Wrongful Death Lawsuits for Involuntary Manslaughter

Common situations that lead to involuntary manslaughter and wrongful death cases include:

  • Vehicular Accidents (including a fatal DUI accident or intoxication manslaughter);
  • Medical Malpractice cases; and
  • Product Liability accidents.

A defendant may be liable for economic, non-economic and punitive damages if the plaintiff proves that the defendant was negligent or legally responsible for the circumstances that led to the death.

The Victim’s Survivors and the Accused Benefit from Legal Counsel 

Whether the criminal charge is involuntary manslaughter, voluntary manslaughter, or 2nd degree manslaughter, both the accused and the victim’s survivors benefit from hiring a lawyer.  It is important to remember that the requirements for proving a wrongful death case or survival action are different than a proving a criminal manslaughter charge.  Yet, the evidence and legal arguments are related.  A wrongful death lawyer will zealously defend a defendant in a wrongful death case, regardless of the outcome of a criminal trial. Similarly, a wrongful death lawyer will represent an estate or survivor in a wrongful death case and work hard to recover equitable damages.

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