When you’re injured that was caused by the negligent actions of another, you will have the opportunity to bring them to justice when you bring a claim against them in civil court. Many claimants are under the impression that civil court is the same as criminal court, though nothing could be further from the truth.
There are many different ways civil law differs from criminal law. Before you move forward with your claim, it’s important that you have an understanding of these differences. Read on so that you are able to prepare for what’s to come.
All About Criminal Proceedings
Civil law is very different from criminal law. In criminal court, the state (represented by the prosecution’s office) brings charges against the defendant. These charges will carry a sentence that might include probation, fines, community service, imprisonment and/or a combination of these penalties.
It will be up to the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the charges against them. This doesn’t always mean that there is no doubt whatsoever of the defendant’s innocence, but that there is no reasonable doubt that anyone other than the defendant is responsible for the crime in question.
The defendant will be represented by a defense attorney during their trial and a Judge and jury will hear evidence presented on both sides before coming to a decision. If found guilty, the defendant will be sentenced to one of the aforementioned penalties and their conviction will remain on their record for good.
What to Expect in Civil Court
When you are bringing a claim against the person or persons responsible for causing your injuries you will do so in civil court. Here, you will be represented by an attorney who will advocate for your rights.
Though the goal in a criminal trial is to convict the defendant of the crimes they’re charged with, in a civil trial, the goal is for the Judge or jury to find the defendant liable for the injuries you suffered. It will be up to your attorney to prove based on a preponderance of the evidence of the defendant’s culpability. This is different from a criminal trial where the prosecutor needs to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Your attorney just needs to demonstrate that the evidence shows that the defendant is responsible for the damages you sustained. In civil court, once the defendant is found liable for your damages, they will be required to compensate you for the losses named in your claim. These might include economic damages such as your lost wages, damage to your earning potential, property damages and/or medical expenses.
Your attorney will also include your non-economic damages when calculating the value of your claim. A few examples of non-economic damages could include pain and suffering, loss of household services, inconvenience, the effects of disfigurement, loss of companionship and love, mental anguish and the loss of enjoyment of life to name a few.
A defendant who is found liable will be compelled to repay you the Judgement entered by the Judge or jury, but will not require the defendant to complete community service, probation, or a jail or prison sentence.
Get Help from a Skilled Personal Injury Lawyer
If you are considering filing a civil claim against the at-fault party whose negligence caused the accident you were involved in, working with an experienced attorney can only benefit your case. Attorneys for personal injury and accident claims can investigate the cause of your accident to establish liability, and quantify your damages, so no loss goes unaccounted for.
Many firms offer their prospective clients a free consultation which will allow you to ascertain whether or not it is in your best interest to move forward with your case. You should take advantage of this opportunity wherever possible before you make the decision to file a personal injury claim.