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.
As noted above, criminal cases rarely provide meaningful compensation to accident victims. And while civil and criminal charges are entirely separate claims, a finding of guilt in a criminal proceeding may help New Hampshire plaintiffs in their civil injury claims. However, defendants can still be liable in a personal injury case even if they are found not guilty in criminal court or if there are no criminal charges filed. In most cases, a not guilty verdict is not presented as evidence and does not necessarily impact a civil lawsuit. In contrast, a guilty verdict and associated testimony may expedite a civil case.
Have You Been Involved in a New Hampshire Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a New Hampshire car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The skilled attorneys at Peter Thompson & Associates have over twenty years of experience successfully recovering damages on behalf of New Hampshire injury victims. We understand that our clients face a tremendous amount of financial and emotional stress when they come into our office for the first time, and we work tirelessly to get them what they deserve. Our award-winning lawyers work with investigators, expert witnesses, paralegals, and case managers, to ensure that each case receives individualized attention. Contact our office at 800-804-2004 to schedule a free initial consultation with a New Hampshire injury attorney at our office.