Dec 16

Does a Conviction in Criminal Court for an Auto Accident Affect a Civil Court Case?

by Tate Law Offices, P.C.Injuries from Car Wrecks

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When a car accident occurs, the victim may sue the other driver for damages in civil court. Additionally, if the accident occurred because the driver was doing something unlawful at the time of accident – like driving while under the influence of alcohol – then criminal charges may also be filed. If you’ve been injured in an accident and have questions about the relationship between criminal court and civil court, here’s what you need to know about how the other driver’s car accident conviction could affect your civil case:

What’s the difference between criminal and civil court?

In a criminal case, a prosecutor of the local government files a lawsuit.  Additionally, a criminal case is not filed in order to provide compensation for the victim; rather, the purpose of a criminal suit is the execution of justice. A defendant who is found guilty in a criminal case will face criminal charges, which may include jail time or fines.

A civil suit, on the other hand, has no criminal implications. If a person is found guilty in a civil suit, they will not face any jail time, nor will the conviction show on a criminal record. Instead, the defendant will be responsible for paying damages to the victim.

Will the other driver’s conviction in criminal court affect my civil court case?

The outcome of a civil court case is not determined by the outcome of a criminal court case, and vice versa. Both are entirely distinct lawsuits, and a decision about each must be made independently. For those who remember the OJ Simpson trials, the case was a perfect example of the difference between civil and criminal court: Simpson was found guilty in civil court, but innocent in criminal court.

However, if a person has been convicted of a crime in criminal court that is directly related to the civil court case, such as a personal injury suit for damages over a car accident, then evidence regarding the conviction may be submitted as evidence in your civil court case. For example, legal representation may argue that the other driver’s criminal conviction is contributory to proof that the driver acted negligently. If negligence can be proven, then the driver may be held liable for all damages. The burden of proof is much lower for civil court cases, so in many situations if a person if found guilty in criminal court, it is highly likely that they will also be found guilty in civil court.

How an Attorney Can Help

If you’ve been in a car accident in Texas and have sustained injuries, you may be considering filing a personal injury lawsuit for damages. At Tate Law Offices, P.C., our attorneys will make sure that all evidence related to your case is submitted to a court, including the other driver’s criminal conviction if applicable. If you have questions, or if you’re ready to begin filing your claim today, contact Tate Law Offices today by calling 888-565-7068 for a free case review.