Columbia Injury Attorneys Assisting Victims
The South Carolina Highway Patrol has charged a man with felony DUI after an early morning crash that killed another man. An SUV was hit from behind and knocked off the road and into a tree. The driver, alone in his vehicle, was trapped inside and died at the scene.
The Highway Patrol charged the driver of the other vehicle with felony DUI resulting in death. The drunken motorist was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.
The state is charging the drunk driver with a felony DUI criminal case. In a criminal case, the family of the victim is not represented, and even if the drunk driver is found guilty, no damages will be rewarded to the victim’s family. The prosecutor does not represent victims of accidents when the state charges a drunk driver with a crime.
However, the family of a person killed by a drunk driver often can file a civil case, and they do not even need to wait until the criminal case has ended to do so.
What Is The Difference Between A Criminal Case And A Civil Case?
Criminal offenses are considered offenses against the state, or society as a whole. Criminal cases are prosecuted by the state and on behalf of the state, not the victim. A civil case, on the other hand, occurs if and when the victim (or the victim’s family) files a lawsuit against the drunk driver.
In addition to the fact that a criminal case and a civil case are separate, victims and families should know they do not have to wait until a criminal case is concluded before seeing an attorney about a civil case. Even if the drunk driver is found “not guilty,” a civil case can proceed and the driver can still be found liable for the accident.
The reason why a civil case can proceed even if a “not guilty” verdict is rendered is due to the standard of proof in a criminal vs. civil case. In a criminal case, the standard of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This is a high standard and can be difficult to prove. Civil cases use lower standard, called a “preponderance of the evidence.” This standard means is that it was more likely than not that the driver acted negligently in causing the accident.
Who Gets The Damages in a Criminal Case vs. a Civil Case?
Punishment in a criminal case means the defendant receives a prison sentence and/or fines that are paid to the state. Civil cases, however, seek money damages for the victim and family to pay for medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress and more. Here are the types of damages available in a civil case to the victim:
- Economic damages. Literally, money that will compensate the victim for past and future financial losses such as medical expenses, lost wages, and diminished ability to earn income in the future.
- Non-economic damages. This represents payment for things that can’t be strictly calculated, like emotional distress, pain and suffering.
- Punitive damages. These are monies intended strictly as punishment. The idea behind punitive damages is to award additional damages that must be paid by the defendant to deter the defendant and other from repeating the same behavior.
I Was Injured By a Careless Driver and I Need a South Carolina Injury Attorney
At Proffitt & Cox, LLP, we handle civil cases for victims of all kinds of accidents. We understand that after a car crash or other serious accident, your injuries may make seeking legal assistance difficult or even impossible, so our attorneys will visit the hospital or your home to get started on your case quickly. You do not need any money to retain our attorneys for injury cases, which our attorneys handle on a contingency fee, meaning that they old get paid by receiving a percentage of any funds they obtain for your. Call our office for a free consultation regarding your case.