After a car accident, criminal court is very different than civil court. One is based around punishment and sentencing, for instance, while the other is based largely around financial compensation. Plus, criminal courts ask for a much higher standard of proof than civil courts.
That being said, the two certainly can be linked, and that can be helpful if you're pursuing a civil case.
For instance, perhaps a driver ran a red light and hit you. You were driving with your elderly parent, and your parent was tragically killed. You were injured. You're now interested in seeking financial compensation for the wrongful death, for funeral costs, for your own medical costs, for lost wages and much more.
At the same time, the driver is accused of manslaughter and running from the scene of the deadly crash. He or she goes to trial and is convicted and sentenced.
Because of the higher standard of proof, the civil court could be heavily swayed by that conviction. Clearly, the evidence has already shown that the defendant was guilty of negligence and caused the deadly accident. As long as there is a link between that fatal crash and the damages you're trying to recover, the first conviction may be the basis for an easy win in civil court.
Convictions Are Not Needed
There is one important thing to note, though. While a criminal conviction can be incredible helpful, it's not necessary. For instance, if the driver got off on a technicality in criminal court because of mistakes made by the police, that doesn't mean you can't win in civil court, anyway.
After the accident, make sure you know about all of your legal options, your right to compensation, and how you and your family should proceed going forward.
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