When someone gets injured in an accident, most people want someone to be held responsible, but it can get a bit confusing when the incident crosses jurisdictions. In this instance, jurisdiction refers not just to a geographical division, but to a judicial one. In other words, the person who caused your injuries could be tried in either a criminal court, or a civil court, or both. Read on to learn more about how these two types of jurisdictions differ and learn how only one will allow you to be compensated.
Has a crime been committed?
For those suffering from an injury due to an accident, it may not be readily apparent or even important whether or not the person was charged criminally. After all, dealing with an accident and the after-effects can be consuming and exhausting. You can rest assured, however, that law enforcement and the justice system will deal with any criminal wrongdoing, if present. Accidents may be called "accidents", but if laws were broken that either caused the accident, made the accident more likely to happen or aggravated the effects of the accident, someone may face charges.
For example, those who were drinking alcohol and were legally over the limit may cause an accident. DUI is a serious charge and carries greater penalties if an innocent party ended up being the victim of the drunk driver. Moreover, if the drunk driver's actions not only caused an accident but serious injury or death, that is another even more serious crime to be charged with. Other criminal acts associated with car accidents include reckless driving, criminally negligent homicide, assault and more. Why should this concern you? Because the fact that the driver was cited or arrested for a crime involving the accident could come into play when it's time to purse your personal injury claim against the driver.
Getting Monetary Damages
When you file suit against another, you are doing so in civil court, which differs in many ways from criminal court. The losing party in criminal matters can face not only fines and penalties, but could also spend time behind bars and worse. The losing party in a civil trial faces only monetary damages; no one goes to jail over a civil suit. These two types of cases also differ a great deal in how they evaluate guilt. For criminal charges, the prosecution must prove guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt"; civil court only requires that guilt be proven by a "preponderance of evidence" (or, "more likely than not").
Speak to a personal injury such as Blomberg Benson & Garrett for more information about pursing a civil suit against the at-fault driver in your accident.