If you were injured in a car accident, and the driver who hit you was charged with a DUI, both a criminal and civil case can be filed against that driver. Many litigants are unsure of how a criminal case can impact their civil case. Here are some of the things that you need to know about the criminal case and civil case when you have been injured by a drunk driver.
The Statute of Limitations for Filing a Claim Is Not Delayed
One of the biggest misconceptions out there is that the statute of limitations for filing a civil case is delayed or stayed while a criminal case is pending. A criminal case and a civil case are two different cases in two different venues. One does not affect the timeline or statutes that are in place for both civil and criminal cases. If you fail to file a civil case before the statute expires, you give up all rights to bring a civil case against the drunk driver in the future.
Most Attorneys Prefer to Wait Until the Criminal Case Concludes Before Taking a Civil Case to Trial
While the statute of limitations for filing a claim is not delayed, once a claim is filed, your attorney can ask for the hearing or case to be postponed until the criminal trial comes to a conclusion. The burden of proof to win a civil case is much lower than to win a criminal case. If someone pleads no contest or is found guilty in a criminal case, the verdict or their plea can be used against them in a civil case. As such, many attorneys prefer to wait to bring their civil case to trial until the criminal case has concluded.
You Cannot Double-Dip on Injury Payments
The final thing that you need to know about a criminal and civil case for a DUI accident is that you cannot double-dip on your injury payments. If a criminal court orders a defendant to pay you $10,000 in restitution for your medical bills, you cannot turn around and ask a civil court to award you $10,000 for those same bills. You can only be awarded payments for things like medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering once, and cannot ask both courts for payments for the same things.
If you have been injured by a drunk driver, you should not assume that you cannot file a civil case or that the civil case is delayed due to the criminal case. Speak to a car accident attorney as quickly as possible so the attorney can begin collecting evidence and filing your personal injury case.