The Difference Between Civil and Criminal Cases

A man in handcuffs in a court room

Semi trucks cause some of the most devastating collisions on the roads. The sheer weight and momentum of these beasts can crush any passenger car, causing serious injuries and fatalities. In the aftermath of these wrecks, victims are left to pick up the pieces or recover, while law enforcement, medical professionals, forensic experts, insurance agents, and lawyers try to figure out what happened, why it happened, and the legal consequences for those responsible. In some accidents, there may be both “civil” and “criminal” legal implications.

Civil Law Versus Criminal Law

When it comes to catastrophic truck accidents, there is sometimes an intersection of two areas of law: civil law and criminal law. On the civil side, there is the personal injury or wrongful death claim. These claims place the financial responsibility for the death or injury on the shoulders of the party that caused or contributed to the wreck. The end goal for the harmed party in civil cases is compensation for the incredible injuries or loss that the responsible party caused.

On the criminal side, there is a law enforcement investigation into the causes of a wreck. While many truck accidents are the results of negligence on the part of the driver and their employer, criminal charges may arise when the driver was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or was driving recklessly. Unlike a civil case, criminal cases are premised on punishing and deterring people from acting in a way that harms other people. These cases are brought by prosecutors on behalf of the state and can end with guilty defendants serving jail time and carrying a criminal record.

What if The Responsible Party Is Facing Criminal Charges?

If the driver responsible for another person’s injury or death is facing criminal charges, this is a positive development for your personal injury or wrongful death claim. First, criminal cases must be proven by a higher burden or proof than a personal injury civil case. This means that law enforcement, a grand jury, and a prosecutor essentially believe that the driver was engaged in criminal conduct when the wrongful or negligent act occurred.

Does this automatically mean an automatic win for a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit when there is a criminal charge or conviction? The answer is no. While it helps to reinforce the malfeasance or negligence of the responsible driver, a personal injury suit and a criminal case involve different legal elements. Significantly, in a personal injury or wrongful death suit, the party seeking damages must demonstrate a link between the wrongdoer’s conduct and the resulting injury or death. Then, it must also be shown what financial damages the wrongdoer should be responsible for.

Call Viloria, Oliphant, Oster & Aman L.L.P.

Viloria, Oliphant, Oster & Aman, L.L.P. provides a comprehensive array of legal services to individuals in Reno. If you have suffered a serious injury or a loved one has been killed at the hands of another driver, call us today. Our personal injury attorneys are experienced, knowledgeable, and effective. We take great pride in fighting for our clients and bringing the full weight of the law upon those responsible. Call Viloria, Oliphant, Oster & Aman L.L.P. today at (775) 227-2280 to schedule an initial consultation or contact our office through our website.

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