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When families lose a loved one in an accident or even a murder, it may be possible to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Kentucky. In Pennsylvania, the families of four men murdered in 2017 have filed lawsuits against the parents of the man convicted of the crime.

According to one lawsuit, the man’s parents had a legal duty to protect others from him since they knew he was interested in guns and had a history of violence and mental illness. The man and his cousin were both convicted in the crime. First, he killed three of the men, two while his cousin acted as a lookout. The fourth man was killed with the help of his cousin, who was sentenced to prison for first-degree murder along with two counts of voluntary manslaughter.

There was a motion to dismiss one family’s lawsuit, but on May 13, a judge denied it. An attorney representing the family said that the lawsuit included claims of both wrongful death and negligence.

Civil suits dealing with wrongful death in criminal cases may be important in several different ways. The court might calculate the victim’s lifetime earnings lost, and that could be included in the compensation, which could be important for dependents. If the person accused of the crime is not found guilty, a civil suit can still proceed. A successful civil suit has a lower burden of proof than a criminal case, relying only on one side to produce a preponderance of evidence rather than requiring a jury to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt. Only certain family members can bring wrongful death lawsuits. Individuals who have lost a family member, either through accident or other means, may want to consult an attorney about their rights and how to proceed with a lawsuit.