Car accidents happen every day. But in some scenarios, there will be car accident criminal charges, while others may only result in civil charges. The at-fault party may be charged as a criminal if they acted with extreme negligence or went out of their way to cause the accident.
Today, Nevada Accident Injury Lawyers will look at the charges involved in a car crash and ensure you get the compensation you are owed. This article will review criminal vs. civil car accident cases in Nevada so you can determine whether your case warrants criminal charges. Then we’ll explore how that may impact your civil case for a personal injury claim.
Civil vs. Criminal Car Accident Cases
A criminal case involves a violation of state law. The charges will be brought through a unit of government such as the county district attorney, and they will make the ultimate decision regarding the verdict and sentencing. The purpose of a criminal case is to punish the offender, provide a means of rehabilitation and protect society.
The goal of a civil case is to compensate the victim for their losses. The victim will be responsible for building the case and bringing the charges. A civil charge, however, is a violation of common law or state civil law.
Burden of Proof in Civil vs. Criminal Car Accident Cases
One of the biggest differences between a civil and criminal offense is that criminal offenses have a higher burden of proof. The person found guilty will be looking at a considerable punishment if found guilty, so the court must have evidence that they were responsible beyond a reasonable doubt for the crime before they convict.
With a civil lawsuit, the plaintiff only needs to show that it is more likely than not that the defendant is responsible for the crime. If this is the case, they will need to reimburse the victim for their losses, but they are not likely to receive any other punishment.
Damages in a Civil vs. Criminal Car Accident Case
The damages owed will also differ depending on whether there are criminal or civil pressed charges for a car accident. There are more damages available to a victim in a civil injury case.
In a car accident criminal charge, the victim will be able to collect compensation for financial losses for:
- Damaged property
- Psychological treatment
- Medical bills
In a civil injury case, the victim will be able to claim all of the above as well as compensation for:
- Emotional distress
- Physical suffering
- The replacement of household services
Can Civil Cases and Criminal Cases Intersect?
Yes, it is possible for criminal and civil cases to intersect. For example, you may begin pursuing a car accident personal injury case as a civil claim. The case becomes a criminal matter for a DUI if it is later revealed that the driver was intoxicated when the incident occurred.
If this occurs, the defendant will have a case on both a criminal and civil level.
Does a Criminal Charge Effect the Outcome of a Personal Injury Claim?
A criminal charge does not necessarily influence a personal injury claim. For example, let’s say you get into an accident with someone who was intoxicated. It may later be found that the person’s intoxication did not cause the crash and subsequent injuries.
In this instance, the person may be criminally charged for the DUI, but they will not be charged on a civil level for the personal injury.
However, there are instances when pursuing both a criminal and civil case can work to the plaintiff’s advantage. For example, you can use statements made in a criminal court by the defendant to build a strong civil case.
If the defendant in the criminal case wishes to plead guilty for the criminal case but does not admit civil liability, they may enter a no-contest plea. A no-contest plea is the same as a guilty plea, but the admission of guilt will not carry over into the civil case.
What Charges Involved in a Car Crash are Considered Criminal?
Most car accidents do not warrant criminal action. For example, if the at-fault driver wasn’t paying attention, or if the accident was caused by an equipment malfunction or an obstruction in the road, a civil suit would follow.
However, other types of accidents can lead to criminal charges. These include:
- Driving Intoxicated: Driving intoxicated causes millions of dollars in property damage and yearly injuries and deaths. It is illegal to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Anyone who drives intoxicated will face fines, license suspension, jail time, and more.
- Hit and Run: It is against Nevada law to flee the scene of an accident. Doing so can lead to steep fines and up to 15 years in prison.
- Reckless Driving: Excessive speeding, disregarding traffic signs and signals, and weaving in and out of traffic are just some examples of reckless driving that can lead to car accident criminal charges.
- Vehicular Manslaughter: Vehicular manslaughter occurs when reckless driving results in another person’s death. It can be a misdemeanor or felony charge. If the at-fault driver exhibited ordinary negligence, it would be considered a misdemeanor. If they were grossly negligent, they would likely be charged with felony charges.
- Fleeing the Police: Fleeing the police will always lead to criminal charges. A person may be charged if they got into an accident while fleeing the police or ran from the police after the accident occurred.
Contact Nevada Accident Injury Lawyers About Your Car Accident Case
If you are considering a personal injury claim as a victim involved in a car accident, Nevada Accident Injury Lawyers offers full dedication to your case.
NAIL has years of experience dealing with personal injury cases in Las Vegas and Southern Nevada. We are known for our winning reputation, our high level of service, and our deep knowledge of the law. We will determine if your case is a criminal or civil matter and fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
Call Nevada Accident Injury Lawyers first if you were involved in a car accident. We will see to it that justice is done.