When you are the victim of a Washington, D.C. car accident, it may be difficult to navigate the legal fallout following the incident. For many people who are unfamiliar with the legal system, they may wrongly assume that if the at-fault party who caused their injuries is criminally charged, they will automatically receive compensation as the victim also. This is not the case.
According to a recent news report, a Washington Commanders player is now facing involuntary manslaughter charges following a fatal car accident. Local authorities reported that the player was driving more than 90 miles per hour in an area where the speed limit was 45 miles per hour when his car swerved off the road and flipped. The passenger in the car was a 29-year-old woman, who died following the accident.
In Maryland, like other states, personal injury claims are considered to be a civil issue, rather than a criminal one. Thus, just because the at-fault party may have been charged criminally, does not mean that you will automatically receive compensation. To receive compensation, potential plaintiffs will have to consider filing a personal injury lawsuit that is separate from the state’s criminal charges against the at-fault party.
What Is the Difference Between Criminal and Civil Cases?
In criminal cases, the state is usually prosecuting the at-fault party as the defendant for a violation of criminal law, such as involuntary manslaughter or driving under the influence. The punishment that results from these cases usually involves jail time or a requirement for the at-fault party to pay money to the state, rather than the victims of the accident. In civil cases, the victim or their loved ones are typically the ones bringing the lawsuit. In these cases, the victim or the loved ones bringing the suit on their behalf are usually alleging that the at-fault party violated a duty of care owed to the accident victim. This means that the at-fault party, if found liable, would be responsible for paying compensation to the victim because the at-fault party’s negligence or recklessness injured the victim. The money that the at-fault party would be responsible for paying in a personal injury claim would usually be paid directly to the victim or their family and is a separate affair from whatever happens in the criminal case.
Just because the two claims are separate, however, does not mean they are not related. For example, an ongoing criminal charge against an at-fault party can sometimes be used as evidence in a civil personal injury claim. Thus, although the criminal and personal injury claims against the at-fault party will proceed separately, they are often related in that they draw from the same set of facts and focus on the who, what, when, where, and how of the accident that took place.
Do You Need a Washington, D.C. Personal Injury Lawyer?
If you or someone you love was recently injured or killed in a Washington, D.C. car accident, contact the lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen today for assistance. Our lawyers have decades of experience fighting for the injured and will work to get you the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free initial consultation today, contact us at 800-654-1949.