When a person suffers an injury due to an accident or as a victim of a crime, he or she may be confused about their rights. Many victims don’t have a clear understanding of whether to pursue a claim through the criminal or civil process. While most personal injury matters will require processing via a civil case, sometimes criminal proceedings are also involved. This adds additional attorneys to an already complex case. That’s where an experienced attorney like Kathryn Burmeister of Burmeister Law Firm can fight for victims and help them understand the most effective ways to pursue the full amount of financial compensation they deserve.
Circumstances in which criminal and civil cases intersect
It’s often not clearly apparent how an individual case can have both criminal and civil aspects, but it’s imperative that victims understand the circumstances under which this can happen. For example, if you or a loved one is injured in a serious car accident, you may (and rightly so) decide to contact a car accident lawyer to pursue recovery of damages against the at-fault driver. It may be revealed that the driver was severely intoxicated when the crash occurred and this may result in criminal charges as well. This is one of many scenarios where an accident resulting in injury may involve both a civil personal injury case in addition to criminal prosecution by the state.
Noting the clear differences between civil and criminal cases is vital to success in these situations. In the US system of justice, the government holds responsibility for prosecuting criminals and imposing penalties for those found guilty of violating the criminal code. Since significant limitations of individualfreedoms of the guilty (i.e. prison) are often ordered, there is a higher burden of proof for criminal cases requiring all elements of the crime to be established beyond a reasonable doubt.
In contrast to this, the purpose of a personal injury case – civil lawsuit – is to determine whether the victim is entitled to recover damages as compensation for the injury and associated losses from the at-fault person or company. These cases come with a lower threshold for the burden of proof. This means that the victim (i.e. plaintiff) and his or her personal injury lawyer only need show a preponderance of the evidence (i.e. more likely than not; over 50%) that the defendant is liable for the injury and, thus, financial damages as compensation to the plaintiff.
It is important to remember though that civil cases and criminal cases are not dependent on each other. Meaning, if one is pursued and successful that doesn’t necessarily mean that the other case will be successful as well.
Impact of criminal cases on injured victim’s compensation
However, it is possible for victims to be compensated through criminal cases sometimes. Whether or not the facts and evidentiary findings associated with a personal injury case also result in criminal charges may have a considerable impact on compensation available to victims. Victims of crimes, such as felonies, misdemeanors, and other breaches of criminal law, are either awarded financial compensation or the judge must put forth a specific finding that no losses occurred. If restitution is ordered, the offender is responsible for financial damage incurred by the victim and is obligated to pay.
Restitution requirements can include compensation for the following:
- Hospital and medical expenses
- Psychological therapy expenses
- Additional medical costs
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Future anticipated medical expenses
- Life adjustment expenses
- Miscellaneous expenses
Restitution judgments never include punitive damages for things like pain and suffering, lost earning capacity, lost employment, loss of quality of life, and other important losses. That’s why victims of these situations must work with a personal injury attorney highly experienced in cases that involve both a civil and criminal aspect. Attorney Kathryn Burmeister will listen to your story and study the evidence surrounding the incident carefully. Your first consultation is absolutely free and involves no obligation. Call Attorney Burmeister today and get the strong, proven help you need so you can get the financial compensation you deserve and focus on getting your life back. Don’t wait any longer. Call right now!