After a car accident, most victims want to heal from their injuries and get their lives back to normal again. However, it's usually best if they take a keen interest in their legal case against the careless driver. Some accident situations are unique because they can be associated with a potential crime. Read on to find out more.
Criminal Accident Cases and Civil Cases
Legal issues can be divided into civil and criminal matters. With a criminal matter, the defendant can be physically punished (incarceration) and they can also be fined and made to pay victim restitution. Civil matters, on the other hand, are all about dollars and cents. The defendant in a civil case cannot be punished using incarceration, probation, drug testing, or other common criminal penalties if found guilty.
Criminal and Civil
Though an accident involving both criminal charges and civil courses of action can be related, they are heard in completely different courts of law. Even the weighting of the evidence is different in these two courts. That is not to say, though, that a civil case cannot be affected by the outcome of a criminal case. Even the presence of criminal charges can have a bearing on a civil case. For a better idea of when these two situations interconnect, take these examples:
- Serious traffic laws may be broken. One very serious offence is reckless driving and an accident occurring alongside that charge may be strengthened by the criminal charges. Reckless driving can include excessive speeding, running stop signs and red lights, swerving in and out of traffic, and more.
- Driving under the influence (DUI) is both a serious criminal offence and the way many accidents occur. Victims of the drunk driver's actions may be facing less resistance when dealing with the insurer for the DUI defendant when trying to obtain an accident settlement.
Damages and Criminal Responsibility
Be sure to speak to a lawyer if you suspect your case involved laws being broken. You don't have to wait, however, for the criminal case to come to trial to seek compensation. You should be aware, however, that victim restitution (with the criminal case) could be affected by any civil settlements or court judgments. Dealing with the after-effects of an accident is never easy, but things don't have to be complex when it comes to your legal case. You deserve to be paid for your medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering and be reimbursed for your vehicle and personal possessions. Speak to an auto accidents lawyer about your case and find out how things can be affected by a pending criminal matter.