In the aftermath of a car accident, you might wonder if the case is civil or criminal. The police may respond to the scene, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the case is criminal. Actually, a car accident can be both civil and criminal. A car accident personal injury attorney can help you pursue your case whether or not there are related criminal charges. The personal injury law firm of Louis B. Himmelstein explains how a car accident is both civil and criminal.

Is a car accident civil or criminal?

A car accident can be civil or criminal. In fact, a car accident can be both civil and criminal. Law enforcement may charge one or people in the accident with a crime. However, the criminal case alone doesn’t accomplish all of the things that are necessary to make the victim whole like complete financial compensation. A civil case is brought by a victim for all of their losses, while a criminal case occurs when a person commits a crime. A car accident case is civil, or criminal or both.

Civil and criminal car accident cases

After a car accident, there may be both criminal and civil proceedings. Usually, when a person is charged with a crime following an accident, they also have civil liability. However, with no-fault laws in the State of Pennsylvania, that’s not always the case. Even if there are no criminal charges that stem from an accident, a victim may still deserve financial compensation. The victim may still be at legal fault for the accident even if they didn’t commit a crime in the process.

Criminal and civil cases don’t always overlap because they accomplish different things. For example, a person can be charged with drunk driving following an accident without the drunk driving being the cause of the accident. The criminal and civil cases are handled entirely separately. Even if the defendant is found not guilty of their criminal offense, the burden of proof in a civil case is lower. In addition, in the civil case, the victim controls the presentation of the evidence.

Car accident attorneys for a civil claim

The best way to understand if a car accident is civil or criminal is to meet with an experienced personal injury attorney in order to talk about what happened. If you have a valid civil case, you can’t count on a criminal claim to fully represent your interests. While victims have some rights to restitution for financial losses that follow crimes, restitution is not the primary purpose of the criminal system. Also, there are likely categories of losses, like pain and suffering, that aren’t part of any criminal proceedings.

The personal injury law firm of Louis B. Himmelstein can make sure that your rights are fully represented. We can make sure your case is handled in a way that pursues complete compensation for your losses. Our personal injury attorney team can help you understand whether your case is civil, criminal or both. Together, we can fight for the best possible result for you.