In many cases when an individual is killed or severely injured in a New Hampshire car accident—and the responsible driver was reckless or under the influence—criminal charges will be brought. Because of this, many victims assume that they cannot bring a lawsuit against the responsible driver. However, this is not the case. Individuals can bring a personal injury lawsuit—or family members can bring a wrongful death lawsuit—even if the defendant has been criminally charged. There are many differences between these two types of cases, which make them both permissible under New Hampshire law.
Recently, a woman was charged with motor vehicle homicide after a local, 91-year-old man died because of her reckless driving. The woman attempted to make a left turn into an auto body shop but misjudged the distance between her car and the man’s car. She struck him head-on, after which he died a few days later from his injuries. The police stated that because the woman drove recklessly, she did not give the deceased the chance to avoid the accident. If found guilty of motor vehicle homicide, she could face up to two and a half years behind bars.
While criminal charges against the responsible person in a car accident may lead to jail time, bringing a personal injury lawsuit to hold them financially responsible. Criminal charges are brought by the government, not someone harmed in the accident. In personal injury lawsuits, the plaintiff, the person injured in the accident, must prove that but not for the actions of the defendant, they would not have been injured. While this may seem difficult to prove, the plaintiff’s attorney will present evidence of the defendant’s recklessness through witness testimony and other evidence. If the plaintiff is able to prove this to a jury, then they will win their case. In criminal cases, there is a higher burden that the government must prove.
If successful in the personal injury case, the plaintiff will be awarded financial compensation for their accident-related damages. These damages can include medical bills, lost income, and non-economic damages. Non-economic damages focus on financially compensating the plaintiff for the pain and suffering they have endured due to the accident. In New Hampshire, there is no cap on non-economic damages—this means the jury can award the plaintiff as much as they deem necessary.
Potential criminal charges against a reckless driver should not stop injured people from pursuing a personal injury lawsuit. Therefore, individuals hurt in a car accident should contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
Have You Been Injured in a New Hampshire Motor Vehicle Accident?
If you or a loved one recently suffered serious injuries in a New Hampshire motor vehicle accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates. We will help you navigate the legal process and make sure to hold negligent drivers accountable for their actions. With decades of combined experience, we know what it takes to succeed—even when the defendant has been charged criminally. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-804-2004.