Following a major accident involving criminal charges, some victims may believe that because the state will be criminally prosecuting the at-fault party, this is the same as filing a personal injury lawsuit and receiving compensation. In reality, the criminal prosecution led by local authorities and a civil personal injury lawsuit that a victim of an accident may bring are completely different cases—even though they may both implicate and arise out of the same set of facts from the accident. Understanding this difference is crucial so that you do not miss out on the compensation that you deserve.
According to a recent local news report, a major car accident involving multiple vehicles left at least one individual dead. Based on a preliminary investigation, a Mercedes failed to stop for a red light at an intersection and crashed into a Chevrolet. The Chevrolet then crashed into a Honda. Both the driver of the Chevrolet and the Honda were stopped at the intersection while waiting for the red light. The driver of the Chevrolet was declared dead on the scene and the driver of the Honda was transported to a local hospital by helicopter, where he later died. Based on this preliminary investigation, local authorities believe that speed and alcohol were both contributing factors to the accident. The details of the crash remain under investigation.
What is the difference between a criminal and civil lawsuit in Maryland?
Following a major car accident like the one described above, local authorities may prosecute the at-fault party if criminal wrongdoing, such as driving or operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, was a contributing factor or the cause of an accident. The charges that local authorities bring against the at-fault party, however, do not involve compensation to the victims of the accident. Instead, they aim to punish or deter the at-fault driver through fines imposed by the government, jail time, community service, or suspension of a license.