If you were at fault in an accident and charged with reckless driving, you likely have a number of questions about what you can expect as your criminal case progresses. If someone was injured in the accident, you may also be facing a civil lawsuit, alleging personal injury. Reckless driving charges stemming from an accident and personal injury claims stemming from that same accident often go hand-in-hand. You are not alone in your situation; many people have faced these related legal problems. This article aims to give you some basic information that can help you navigate basic procedure in these cases. It is important to understand, however, that this article is not a substitute for legal advice. If you are facing criminal charges or a civil lawsuit, it is always in your best interest to consult with an experienced and competent attorney who can help you make the right decisions as your cases progress.
One of the first questions you may have is, how can I have two cases about the same accident? You may have heard about the concept of “double jeopardy,” and you may be confused about why you are being contacted by two attorneys about the same accident. The answer is that there are two main court systems in the United States: a criminal court and a civil court.
Criminal Court: Criminal court is where your reckless driving charges are pending. This court hears some traffic violations and other crimes, ranging from theft, to fraud, to murder. The burden of proof in these cases is higher, meaning that the opposing party has to have more proof to establish a case against you. Your opposing party is the government, led by a prosecuting attorney. If you lose your criminal case, you may pay a fine to the government, and you may also face jail time.
Civil Court: Civil court is where the personal injury case against you is pending. This court hears disputes between private entities: citizens, corporations, and other companies. The burden of proof is lower; your opposing party needs less proof to establish their case. The opposing party is the person injured in the accident or, sometimes, that person’s insurance company which paid money to the injured person under an insurance policy. If you lose a civil case, you will likely owe money to the plaintiff, but you will not face jail time.
“Double jeopardy,” or the idea that you can only face trial for the same event one time applies separately to each court. So, the government can only try a case against you for a specific crime one time. Likewise, a plaintiff in an civil personal injury case can only file one lawsuit against you about the same issue.
This may sound confusing and intimidating, and it can be. It is important that you manage the deadlines of your cases, make sure you show up for the hearings, and that you are respectful and helpful to your judges. It is also important that you take the time to talk to and hire an attorney that can help you with both your criminal and civil case. Do not delay in hiring a car accident lawyer Bronx NY residents can count on to relieve some burden from your shoulders and help you make the most effective case possible in both criminal and civil court.