Aaron Hernandez Murder Charges – Wrongful Death Lawsuits Could Be Coming Soon.

In light of the recent developments involving NFL player and ex-New England Patriot, Aaron Hernandez, regarding his arrest for the murder of Odin Lloyd, many people have been left with a variety of questions as to ‘what is going to happen next’.
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When you hear a charge like murder, you may be quick to only consider the criminal aspect of the judicial process involving both the victim and the alleged perpetrator; however, where there has been a criminal charge for murder, often times there will be a civil lawsuit filed for wrongful death as well. Knowing the distinction between the legal terms “murder” and “wrongful death” is the first part of having a true understanding of the difference. As we take a look at what each term means, and what case penalties can result in either a civil or criminal action, we will begin to see the significant purposes each serve in our legal system.

Murder charges and lawsuits are filed and brought before a criminal court as a violation of the law. There is a statute in place that will tell you exactly what elements of the crime must be proven by the state in order to convict an alleged murderer. The burden of proof that must demonstrated by the state for each element of the crime in order to convict the accused is ‘Beyond a Reasonable Doubt’. If the prosecution leaves any doubt as to any of the elements of the crime murder being established, then a jury cannot find a person guilty of that murder. If a person is found guilty of murder in a criminal case, the penalty will be restriction from freedom and possibly death depending on the jurisdiction.

Wrongful death lawsuits are civil actions which usually are brought forth by the estate or relatives of a deceased victim. When a claim is filed, in order for a plaintiff to be successful, they must demonstrate to the court that the defendant was responsible for the deceased’s death through a careless, deliberate, or negligent act. Civil lawsuits carry a different burden of proof than criminal cases. In a civil suit, proof by 51% or more is considered acceptable. So as long as a jury believes more-likely than not that a defendant is responsible for the victims death, they can award monetary damages to the person bringing the suit.

Being that the Hernandez case is still an ongoing investigation into the actual crime itself, there is not much that can be definitively said as to what will transpire in the upcoming months. What can be said is that given the financial situation of high profile athletes like Aaron Hernandez, it is highly likely that at some point, Odin Lloyd’s family may bring a civil lawsuit against Hernandez’s estate. The landmark case that best illustrated this possibility is the OJ Simpson case.
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How Insurance Companies Place a Value on a Personal Injury Claim

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To determine what a personal injury claim is worth, there are two things you must always keep in mind. First, the value of the case is only worth what the insurance company is willing to settle for. Second, the case value is only different from what the insurance company sees it as if and when it is placed in front of a jury, and placing your case in front of a jury has potential for various outcomes. These factors make it sometimes difficult to determine what your case’s value is because they may be very different from what your expectations are. Ultimately, and case by case, the totality of the circumstances that are present in the claim is what will help to determine your specific case’s value. To better understand the insurance companies and how they conclude their opinions on your claim, a breakdown of the process is provided below.

What Insurance Companies Pay Out

In order to assess your personal injury claim, you must initially be aware of the different ways that you may deserve compensation. When a person or business is found liable for another person’s injuries and that person or business is insured, their insurance company will pay the inured person’s:

  • Medical Expenses
  • Property Damage
  • Lost Wages from Work
  • Lost Educational Experiences
  • Permanent Disability
  • Damages for Emotional and Mental Distress

Formulas Used By Insurance Companies on Assessing Damages

There are certain damages in personal injury claim that can easily be calculated. The money that it costs for medical treatment, wage losses and other figures that are relatively easy to ascertain are generally not a part of any confusion. The complex issues that sometimes create problems when attempting to increase the dollar amount in a person’s case is determining the value of pain and suffering, opportunities lost, and missed experiences. It is at this point that an insurance adjuster’s formula comes into play.

At the point that a claim reaches negotiations, the total amount of medical costs related to a personal injury claim are calculated by the adjuster for the insurance company. The medical costs involved, or ‘specials’ as referred to by adjusters, is what is used to gauge the injury as a whole. Pain and suffering, and other nonmonetary losses referred to as ‘general damages’, are figured out by analyzing the injury itself. Depending on the severity of the injury, an adjuster with multiply the amount of special damages, anywhere from one (1) to (5) percent, and as high as ten (10) percent in some extreme injury cases. Any lost income as a result of the injury is then added on to the total amount. Keeping this general formula in mind, it must be emphasized that everything is on a case by case basis, and nothing is set in stone. This is also just a starting point where adjusters generally begin negotiations to settle personal injury claims.
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