When an intoxicated person gets behind the wheel of a car and hits another driver, he has both committed a crime and likely injured someone. The intoxicated driver will face criminal charges for driving under the influence, and may also face a lawsuit in civil court to compensate the injured victim or their family. While both DUI civil and criminal cases may share some of the same evidence, the burden of proof is very different.
How do DUI criminal cases work?
The purpose of a DUI criminal case is to punish the offender for his crime. The burden of proof is much higher in a DUI criminal case as the district attorney must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the driver operated his car while drunk.
An accident can affect the charges the state files against the driver. For example, if you sustained injury in an accident caused by an intoxicated driver, the driver may face other charges, in addition to the DUI charge. This means that while it is unlikely that your civil case will have any effect on the criminal case, the district attorney may use your injuries as evidence.
How do DUI civil cases differ?
If you suffered serious injuries in a crash with a drunk driver, you can file a claim against the driver’s insurance and request financial compensation for your medical expenses, out-of-pocket costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If the insurance company does not offer a fair settlement, compensation is possible through a lawsuit in civil court.
Civil cases hinge on the injured party proving that the drunk driver caused the accident, and that the accident led to her injuries. This burden of proof, however, is much lower than in a criminal case. If the “preponderance of the evidence” shows the defendant was most likely responsible for the accident, then the party filing the suit may be eligible to collect compensation for her losses.
How do they affect one another?
DUI civil and criminal cases do not often affect each other, but there is often shared evidence between them. Attorneys for the injured party frequently present evidence from the criminal case — Nassau or Suffolk accident reports, police reports, blood alcohol level test results, witness reports — to prove the defendant drove while intoxicated. Providing this proof is paramount, because drunk driving is always a reckless and negligent action.
The injured party has to go a step further, though. Additional proof is necessary to show the accident caused their injuries and the losses she suffered. This requires presenting additional evidence such as medical records and calling other witnesses to testify.
How can Goldstein & Bashner help?
The Long Island drunk driving accident lawyers at Goldstein & Bashner represent the victims of DUI crashes in New York. We can help you pursue a civil claim against the driver in a Suffolk County or Nassau County court.
If you suffered serious injuries in a DUI crash and need compensation to cover your financial losses, contact us today to schedule a free case review and learn more.