Former "Ink Master" star and tattoo artist, Daniel Silva, is facing a wrongful death lawsuit from the parents of YouTube star Corey La Barrie. According to a report on People.com, Simon La Barrie and Lissa Burton are suing Silva and his company, Daniel Silva Tattoos, alleging that Silva, who pleaded not guilty to killing La Barrie after a fatal car crash, was negligent in the hours and moments leading up to the fatal car crash. La Barrie died on his 25th birthday.
Lawsuit and Fatal Crash
La Barrie's parents allege that Silva was driving at an extremely high speed unreasonable for the conditions when he was in the car with La Barrie claiming that he "generally failed to use reasonable care" while operating the vehicle. They also allege that Silva was under the influence of alcohol and/or other unknown substances, which they claim were provided by his tattoo company. La Barrie's parents are suing for damages including compensatory damages, costs of the lawsuit, pre-judgment and post-judgment interest and any fair and equitable relief.
The fatal crash occurred the night of May 10 in Los Angeles when a 2020 McLaren 600LT was traveling eastbound on Huston Street at a high rate of speed when Silva lost control. The vehicle veered off the road, and collided with a stop sign and a tree. Authorities also said that Silva had to be stopped from leaving the crash site by people who came to render aid. Silva was arrested and charged with one count of murder to which he pleaded not guilty. A preliminary hearing is set for June 30. If convicted, Silva faces 15 years to life in state prison.
Civil Versus Criminal Action
It is important to understand the difference between wrongful death, which is a civil action, and murder or manslaughter, which are criminal charges typically filed in the aftermath of a fatal crash that involves driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action. This means that the case is brought by the relatives of the deceased or by the estate on the basis that the defendant caused the victim's death by a negligent or wrongful act. Murder cases, on the other hand, are criminal actions filed by the state (prosecutor) on the basis that the defendant broke the law and in the process caused a human being to lose his or her life. Murder cases are tried in criminal courts with a jury and are largely determined by intent. While wrongful deaths can also be the result of intent, they could be due to negligent or reckless acts. Murder is a type of wrongful death.
The burden of proof is also significantly different in a murder case and a wrongful death lawsuit. In a murder case, the prosecutor has the burden of proof and must prove that the defendant committed the crime "beyond a reasonable doubt." However, in wrongful death lawsuits, the plaintiffs have the burden of proof. The plaintiff's attorney must prove in such cases that the defendant is more likely than not responsible for death. This standard of proof is known as "preponderance of the evidence." This means that the plaintiff's lawyer must be able to convince jurors that there is at least a 51% probability that the defendant committed the actions that were alleged in the civil complaint, which led to the decedent's death.
Penalties in Wrongful Death Cases
A murder conviction often results in a prison sentence or the death penalty. Very few murder cases actually proceed to the penalty phase where jurors must decide whether the defendant should receive death or life in prison with or without the possibility of parole. If a murder case, defendants are found "guilty" or "not guilty" based on the evidence. In a wrongful death lawsuit, a defendant is found "liable." The punishment in a murder case is death or incarceration. In a wrongful death, if the defendant is found liable, the jury also determines what monetary compensation should be awarded to the plaintiffs for their losses.
While no amount of compensation can bring a human being back to life or assuage the pain of grieving family members, such compensation can help families cope with the financial burdens that come with the loss of a loved one. This is especially true in cases where the decedent is the sole breadwinner or primary wage earner. In these situations, families may even struggle to make ends meet after the death of a loved one. So, while a criminal conviction can help hold the defendant accountable, families can only seek and obtain monetary compensation by filing a civil wrongful death lawsuit.
Wrongful death lawsuits may be filed by a number of parties including the spouse or partner of the decedent; minor or grown children; parents of the deceased; a putative spouse or children of a putative spouse; other relatives such as siblings; or any individual who was financially dependent on the deceased victim.
How a Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help
There are always clear benefits to retaining the services of an experienced Orange County wrongful death lawyer as opposed to going through the process on your own. First and foremost, an attorney who has successfully handled these types of cases knows the legal process, which is quite complex in this area of the law. Also, in a wrongful death lawsuit, it is crucial that all deadlines are met to keep your case active.
Your wrongful death lawyer will also know how to properly value your claim by thoroughly evaluating your situation and the facts of your case. Most wrongful death lawsuits are settled out of court. But, in some cases, you may need to go to trial because the other party may not be ready to offer a fair settlement. If your case goes to trial, you need a knowledgeable wrongful death lawyer on your side to help you secure maximum compensation for your family. If you have lost a loved one due to someone else's negligence or wrongdoing, call the experienced Orange County wrongful death lawyers at Timothy J. Ryan and Associates for a free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation.