If you've been injured in a car wreck, you probably already know that you can, and should, hold the at-fault driver accountable for your damages. Matters can become somewhat confusing, however, when the accident involves both criminal and civil issues. Make no mistake about it, you can only gain monetary compensation by pursuing a civil, or personal injury, case in court, but if criminal charges are also in play it may influence your civil case as well. Read on to learn more about these types of cases.
A Criminal Matter
Once you get injured, the potential for criminal charges may not the first thing on your mind, but some accidents do involve criminal behavior. While carelessness, a frequent cause of car accidents, is not usually considered criminal in nature, some types of particularly egregious careless behavior can be. For example, if the driver that hit you was distracted by texting and caused the wreck, it may be a criminal matter.
Other criminal acts related to car wrecks include hitting a car while fleeing from law enforcement, breaking a traffic law while causing an accident, reckless driving, and even criminally negligent assault or homicide. Be sure to ascertain whether or not the other parties involved in your wreck were issued any traffic or criminal citations, as these red marks will be valuable to your personal injury case.
If the driver that caused your accident was under the influence, there will undoubtedly be criminal charges. It happens far too often; someone has too much to drink and gets behind the wheel, putting everyone on the road in danger. In most cases, law enforcement will ask that the driver undergo a blood alcohol test at the hospital to determine the presence of alcohol and other substances, both legal and illegal. It will be vital for the success of any personal injury claim to get your hands on these results, even if you must get a court order to do so.
Personal Injury Claims
While you already understand that you cannot gain monetary compensation by taking a case to criminal court, that doesn't mean that the two cases are not related. When it comes to proving wrongdoing, the fact that the driver is being charged criminally can only add credence to your civil claim for money damages.
There is another big difference between the criminal and civil court, however, and this difference can mean all the world to your case. In criminal court, the burden of proof is that guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Civil cases, on the other hand, only have to prove guilt by a preponderance of evidence, which is far easier.
You can learn more by speaking to a personal injury lawyer, or by clicking here.