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Criminal vs. Civil Injury Cases

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Recently, a South Carolina woman was placed under arrest for crashing into a family, injuring three children, and then fleeing the scene of the accident. It’s sad, but these kinds of accidents occur all too often across the nation. The suspect struck a mother and her children and fled in a gray Ford Explorer. Then she ditched the SUV and escaped on foot.

The woman driving had no driver’s license when she caused the accident which left the mother and her three children, aged 14, 12 and 11, hurt. All were released from the hospital after being treated. The woman was charged with violation of a learner’s permit, driving without permission, and hit and run with minor personal injuries.

Many people who are injured in this way might think that the criminal charges are the end of their journey. However, there are other ways that a guilty party can be held accountable. Learn about civil cases resulting from car accidents, and how a car accident attorney can help you get compensated for your injury.

Civil vs. Criminal Cases

A personal injury case resulting from an accident like this is very different from a criminal case. The woman involved above was charged with crimes for what she did. If found guilty, she will be likely to face jail time and potential fines and penalties. However, none of the fines they pay will go to the victims.

A civil case would proceed entirely separate from the criminal case. It’s designed not just to punish the guilty party, but to help the victims pay their medical bills, lost wages, lost quality of life, and pain and suffering. There are no criminal penalties attached, and even if the driver is found innocent of criminal charges, she can still be found liable in a civil case.

Damages in Car Accident Cases

There’s a broad range of damages that you can receive if you’re hurt by a careless driver. The most basic of these are your medical bills. You can receive a sum designed to help pay for the mounting costs of medical treatments, doctor’s visits, medication, even physical therapy and transportation to and from appointments.

You can also receive damages for your lost wages and lost potential future compensation if your injury renders you unable to work. More subjective damages you can receive include pain and suffering, emotional trauma, loss of comfort and relationships, loss of consortium, damage to your quality of life, and in the most egregious situations, punitive damages.

Proving Negligence

Of course, to collect all of these damages, you’ll need to prove that the driver who caused your injury was negligent in some way. Proving negligence in a civil case requires several factors. First, you’ll need to prove that the other driver was acting in a way that was so irresponsible or careless that no rational, reasonable person would act that way. Second, you’ll need to prove that this irresponsibility was the direct or indirect cause of the accident. Finally, you need to prove that the accident is what resulted in the injuries you’ve suffered.

Comparative Negligence

South Carolina also has a rule called comparative negligence. This means that the amount of damages you receive will be reduced in direct proportion to the degree of negligence you hold. If, for example, your injuries are found to be worth $100,000, but you’re deemed to be 25% responsible for the accident, you only get $75,000.

Even worse, if you’re found to be more than 50% responsible for the accident, that means you can’t collect damages at all. As such, it’s very important to be able to prove your case as definitively as possible.

Why You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer

Generally speaking, it’s an insurance company that’s going to pay on your claim. Insurance companies are businesses and they’re out to make money, not pay it out. They will go to great lengths to avoid paying your claim, including blaming you for the accident and trying to show you’re not that hurt.

The best way to fight these insurance companies is to hire a car accident attorney. The right car accident attorney knows how to fight back against non-payment tactics by bullying insurers, and get you the compensation you deserve. A car accident attorney is your best shot at getting a significant settlement for the medical bills and other damages you’ve suffered.

If you’re in South Carolina and you need help with a car accident case, don’t try to go it alone. Contact the car accident attorneys at Harris and Graves for a free consultation today.