After many Virginia car accidents, police and emergency responders arrive at the scene of the accident. Law enforcement typically responds in order to investigate whether anyone committed a criminal act that caused the accident and to gather information to prevent future incidents. In some cases, the police may arrest an individual or pursue criminal charges against one or more parties involved. An arrest or subsequent charges may impact an injury victim’s personal injury case.
Fundamentally, there are several differences between criminal charges and civil lawsuits. First, the burden of proof is different depending on the type of case. In a civil personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff must establish that the other party was responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries by a preponderance of the evidence. This standard requires the plaintiff to prove that it is “more likely than not” that the other party caused their injuries. In contrast, the burden of proof in criminal cases is much more difficult and requires the state to prove that the defendant is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This crucial difference means that injury victims are more likely to succeed in a civil case than the state can on a criminal matter, because the burden is significantly lower.
Another key difference is that there are additional damages available to victims in civil cases compared to a criminal case. In some situations, a criminal conviction may allow a victim to recover compensation through a victim relief fund or restitution. However, civil injury plaintiffs might recover damages for losses that restitution or a relief fund does not cover. For instance, civil injury victims may be entitled to compensation for emotional distress, loss of companionship, and pain and suffering.
Injury victims must understand that a guilty finding under the criminal system does not necessarily equate to civil liability. Similarly, an injury victim may still successfully pursue a civil claim even if the state refuses to file criminal charges against a defendant, or the defendant is found not guilty.
A recent Virginia news report illustrates an accident that may lead to civil charges, even though the state is not pursuing criminal charges. In that case, officers explained that a car collided with a man and woman who did not have the right of way, but were crossing into the road. Officials stated that the driver would not face criminal charges; however, this a prime example of a situation where the pedestrians’ loved ones may file a civil wrongful death claim.
Have You Been Injured in a Virginia Car Accident?
If you or someone you know has suffered injuries in a Virginia car accident, contact the personal injury attorneys at Robinson Law. The attorneys at our law firm have successfully represented injury victims in countless car and truck accidents, defective product claims, instances of nursing home abuse, and slip and fall accidents. We provide each client with the individualized attention they deserve, and prepare every case with a personalized strategic approach. Contact our office to discuss whether you may be entitled to monetary compensation for your injuries. Call us for a free initial consultation at 703-649-4500.