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Q&A: Does It Matter If The At-Fault Driver Faces Criminal Charges?

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Our clients have asked us a lot of good questions over the years. When we hear a question more than once, we know that there are probably a lot of people out there wondering the same thing. For that reason, Rittgers & Rittgers will regularly answer client questions on our blog. Here is one such question and answer (Q&A).

I was seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident and the at-fault driver is facing criminal charges. How will this impact my case?

In auto accidents involving serious injuries or death, the local prosecutor will strongly consider bringing criminal charges. If the crash involves factors more than typical negligence, such as drunk driving or driving without a license, it is nearly certain that charges will be filed.

The criminal proceedings may have little or no impact on your lawsuit against the at-fault driver, but in some cases it may play a big role.

Evidence admitted into the criminal proceedings can be used in your lawsuit. Further, should the criminal case establish guilt on various charges, that information, if relevant, can be used to support your personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. We have included an illustration below.

The victim, a motorcyclist, was riding on the highway when a car turned left in front of the motorcycle, causing the biker to wreck. When police arrived, they detected the smell of alcohol on the at-fault driver. The driver registered a 0.08 BAC and was charged with OVI (operating a vehicle while intoxicated), failure to yield and other offenses. The driver pleaded not-guilty to the OVI. The case went to trial and the driver was found guilty of OVI.

In the above scenario, the motorcyclist can use the defendant's conviction to help strengthen his or her motorcycle wreck lawsuit. That conviction may help the biker recover more money with a shorter legal battle. To learn more, speak with an experienced personal injury attorney.

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