Distinguishing Criminal Cases from Personal Injury Claims in Michigan


Sometimes, when you are involved in an accident, the at-fault party is charged criminally for his actions. Most commonly, this typically involves a driver who was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which is a crime in most states. When the at-fault party is charged criminally, however, it does not guarantee that you, as the victim, get compensation. In fact, to receive damages for your injuries or property damage from the crash, you have to file a separate civil claim against the driver. Understanding this distinction between criminal and civil cases is crucial to getting the compensation you deserve.

According to a recent local news report, a pickup truck driver took a number of substances before he was involved in an accident that killed one teen passenger and severely injured another. The prosecutor stated that the driver picked up two teens and others before heading to a house party, where he consumed alcohol and “whippets,” which are inhalants that substantially affected his ability to drive and operate his vehicle. After the accident happened, the driver fled the scene on foot. Various witnesses corroborated that the driver was drinking at the party, and the prosecutor also obtained a video of the driver inhaling whippets before the crash. The driver pleaded no contest to several counts, including operating while intoxicated and causing death and failing to stop at the scene of the accident when at fault for causing death.

When an at-fault party is charged criminally, they are typically being prosecuted by the state. The result of the criminal case is typically a punishment handed down by the state, such as jail time or community service. The victim in the accident is not involved in the criminal case outside of potentially being included as evidence of the at-fault party’s wrongdoing.

To pursue damages or compensation, victims must file a civil personal injury case separately from the criminal case. The result of successful civil cases is monetary compensation for injuries or losses that take place from the accident. Usually, the at-fault party is held liable when their negligent or reckless actions cause injury to the victim. Thus, criminal and civil cases are not always completely separate in that the evidence of the at-fault driver’s criminal actions could be used as evidence that the driver acted negligently or recklessly in the civil case.

For example, although the news report above only reports on the criminal aspects of the pickup truck driver accident, if the victims and their surviving family members sued the driver, they could point to the driver’s consumption of alcohol and use of drugs before the accident as evidence that the driver acted negligently.

Do You Need a Michigan Personal Injury Lawyer?

If you or someone you know was recently injured or killed in a Michigan car accident, contact the lawyers at the Neumann Law Group today for assistance. Our team has years of experience fighting for the injured and will work to get you the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our team, contact us at 800-525-6386.

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