If you have been involved in an accident caused by a drunk driver, the chances are good that you will want to file a civil lawsuit to recover damages. Although the driver was probably arrested and faces criminal DUI and other possible charges, a criminal conviction will not result in any financial recovery for victims. Criminal courts prosecute crimes and punish wrongdoing, while civil court exists as the legal means for victims to receive compensation for injuries. But how will a criminal case affect the outcome of your civil action against a drunk driver?
Civil Lawsuits Versus Criminal Cases
A common misunderstanding about the law is that there cannot be a criminal case and a civil case for the same accident case. This is not true. Criminal and civil courts are entirely separate branches of the law, so a criminal charge doesn’t prevent someone from facing a civil lawsuit. A criminal charge also isn’t necessary to file a civil lawsuit. A conviction is not required, either. You can also file suit against someone who has already been convicted, even if he is in jail already.
In fact, due to the separation of the legal and civil court systems, a criminal case is not likely to have much bearing on your civil case at all. While your attorney may be able to obtain a limited amount of helpful information from law enforcement officials on the criminal law side of things—such the results of a blood-alcohol test—the outcome of your civil case is ultimately independent of the criminal case.
Get Legal Help After an Accident
If you have been injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver, the Law Office of Kenneth E. Berger extends sympathies to you and your family. We are here to help those who have been harmed by negligence or wrongdoing, and we would like to help you start the recovery process today.
To speak to an experienced legal professional about your accident, please call us by phone, use our contact form to send an email, or click our live chat box now. Our offices are conveniently located in Columbia, and we proudly serve clients from all over the state of South Carolina, including the Myrtle Beach, Sumter, and Florence areas.