Some New Hampshire car accidents, such as drunk driving crashes, may result in criminal charges being filed against the at-fault party. The county prosecutor decides whether to bring criminal proceedings against a driver, and which charges to file. Criminal cases typically begin after an arrest or investigation, and these cases must be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If a defendant is found guilty, the defendant may be sentenced to probation or incarceration, and may be required to pay various fines and penalties. However, in most situations, criminal cases do not provide any compensation to victims.
Unlike the criminal justice system, civil proceedings start when an accident victim files a complaint against the party or parties they believe to be responsible for their injuries. Plaintiffs must only prove their case under a “more likely than not” standard. Civil defendants are not entitled to an attorney, and consequences usually include monetary compensation for damages that the plaintiff suffered. Injury victims and their families often suffer long term financial consequences. In many cases, state victim aid falls short, and civil cases allow plaintiffs to recover damages for their medical bills, lost wages, and other associated losses.
For example, a recent news report sheds light on the financial burden that many families face after New Hampshire car accidents. A young woman died when her boyfriend, drunk at the time, crashed the vehicle she was riding in as a passenger. The young woman’s mother petitioned the state’s Victims’ Compensation Fund for assistance with funeral and medical expenses. However, the Fund denied her claim, stating that her daughter was partially responsible for the accident because she knew her boyfriend was under the influence when she got into the vehicle with him. This case is a prime example of issues that plaintiffs and their families often face after an accident.