How Does The Defendant’s Criminal Case Affect Your Personal Injury Claim?
When you start discussing the details of a personal injury lawsuit with your lawyer, many aspects of the process may surprise you. Unless you have been involved in a business dispute in court, then much of your perception about how the legal system works is probably related to criminal cases, since these get much more coverage in the news and receive many more fictional portrayals in movies. In a civil lawsuit such as a personal injury lawsuit, no one is innocent or guilty, and the court might even decide that both parties are partially at fault for the accident. There may or may not be a jury present at the trial for a personal injury case. As with criminal cases, only a minority of personal injury cases go to trial, but there is a big difference between a plea deal and a personal injury settlement. To further complicate matters, it is possible that the same person may be a defendant in a criminal case and in a personal injury case because of his or her role in the same accident. If the person whose negligence caused your injuries is also facing criminal charges for causing the accident, contact a Jacksonville personal injury lawyer.
Easier to Get a Ruling in Your Favor, but Harder to Collect Damages
Drunk driving is a crime; it is also the cause of a disproportionate share of traffic accidents that result in serious injury or death. If the person who caused your accident is facing criminal charges arising from the accident, you still have the right to sue, but the court cannot rule on your case until the criminal case resolves. In other words, your personal injury case will remain in limbo until the defendant pleads guilty in criminal court or is acquitted or convicted at a jury trial. If the defendant is acquitted or has the charges dropped, you still have a chance to win your personal injury case; in civil court, the standard of evidence to rule in favor of the plaintiff in civil cases is “a preponderance of the evidence,” which is much easier to achieve than “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
If a criminal court convicts the defendant, or if the defendant pleads guilty, then winning your civil case is a slam dunk. This does not make it easier to collect damages, however. Collecting personal injury lawsuit judgments from defendants who are individuals, as opposed to corporations, is already challenging, unless the defendant is very wealthy. If the defendant must serve a prison sentence for causing your accident, and will be out of the workforce for the duration of the prison sentence, it is unlikely that he or she will be able to pay the court-ordered damages.
Contact Douglas & Douglas About Personal Injury Cases
A North Florida personal injury lawyer can help you collect damages for your accident-related injuries, even if the person who caused the accident is facing criminal charges. Contact Douglas & Douglas in Jacksonville, Florida for a free consultation.