Understanding Criminal vs. Civil Claims in Maine

Sometimes, when you are involved in a car accident, the at-fault party who caused the accident may have been operating their vehicle negligently or recklessly because they were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

In these situations, the at-fault party may be prosecuted criminally for driving under the influence—but this is a distinct proceeding from any personal injury claims you may be considering bringing against the at-fault party for compensation. Understanding the distinction between the criminal suit against the at-fault party and your civil personal injury lawsuit is crucial to the success of your claim and to ensuring that you are able to recover the damages you deserve for your losses.

According to a recent local news report, two individuals died following a major rear-end accident. The driver of a Chevrolet and her passenger were struck from behind by a Dodge pickup truck when the Chevrolet driver lost control of her car, spun off the side of the road, and crashed into a tree. Neither the Chevrolet driver nor her passenger had been wearing seatbelts and were pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the Dodge truck and his passenger were uninjured, but police suspect that speed and alcohol may have been contributing factors in the accident. Local authorities are continuing to investigate the accident and reconstruct the crash.

When a party is prosecuted criminally in a case involving driving under the influence or a car accident where another party was injured, these are separate proceedings from your personal injury claim. Many people fail to understand this distinction and think that if the at-fault party is found guilty of driving under the influence, they will automatically also receive compensation. This is not the case.

To receive compensation, you must file your own separate civil personal injury claim against the at-fault party and prevail. If the at-fault party is found guilty in the criminal case, then they will likely face jail time, fines payable to the state, community service, or a suspension of their license depending on the severity of the charges. In a civil personal injury claim, a successful plaintiff will be able to recover monetary damages from the at-fault party.

The criminal and civil proceedings are separate and will be heard by different judges. In fact, sometimes, the at-fault party is found not guilty in a criminal proceeding. This, however, often has no bearing on the success of a separate but parallel civil personal injury claim. Just because someone is found to not be criminally liable does not mean that they did not act negligently or recklessly to cause you injury in your car accident.

Do You Need a Maine Personal Injury Lawyer?

If you or someone you know was recently injured or killed in a Maine car accident, contact the lawyers at Peter Thompson & Associates today. Our attorneys have years of experience fighting for the injured and will work to provide you with the support, legal expertise, and care you deserve. To schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our team, contact us at 1-800-804-2004.

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