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Difference Between Civil Negligence and Criminal Negligence

Police officer talking to businessman after crash, criminal negligence concept

There is a distinct difference between civil negligence and criminal negligence. Most Augusta car accidents result in civil litigation against the at-fault party. When you file a claim for damages against an at-fault driver, this is an example of civil litigation. However, there are crashes where criminal litigation is also involved. This is why it is important to consult a qualified Augusta car accident lawyer if you were involved in a crash.

A majority of the claims involve civil litigation because most accidents are a result of civil negligence. In rare cases, a driver may be guilty of criminal negligence as well. It is important to understand how the two differ. You also have to meet different standards of the burden of proof for each type of litigation.

Civil Litigation

Civil litigation typically involves a specific type of settlement between two parties. One of these parties is the wronged party, the other is the wrongdoer. As a victim of a car crash, you are the wronged party. So you have a right to seek damages from the wrongdoer. These damages typically take the form of monetary compensation. So the ultimate aim of civil litigation is to seek ‘remedies’ in the form of damages from the at-fault party.

You can seek damages for civil negligence by filing a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. If that is not possible, or if your claim is turned down, you can file a lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit brings the matter into the legal domain.

Who Can Initiate Civil Litigation?

You, as a private individual, can instigate civil litigation against an at-fault party. The state also has the right to initiate civil proceedings against the at-fault party.

Criminal Litigation

Criminal litigation is sought when a party is believed to have committed a criminal offense. The ultimate aim of such litigation is to seek criminal sanctions against the wrongdoer. Such sanctions may involve fines, mandatory rehabilitation, probation, license suspension, and jail.

Who Can Initiate Criminal Litigation?

Only the state can initiate criminal proceedings against a suspected offender. You can request for such proceedings to be started but you can’t start these on your own.

The Burden of Proof in Civil Litigation

In contrast to criminal litigation, the burden of proof in civil litigation is more relaxed. As a plaintiff seeking damages in a civil case, you only need to prove ‘preponderance of the evidence.’ In simple words, this means that you must prove that your allegations against the at-fault party are at least 51% correct. If this threshold is met, you are found to be eligible for damages.

The Burden of Proof in Criminal Litigation

The burden of proof is stiffer in criminal cases as there is more at stake. The outcome of the case may carry serious consequences for the accused person. So the prosecution is required to show that the accused person is guilty ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’ In other words, it must be shown with certainty that the accused person displayed criminal negligence in the case.

Civil and Criminal Litigation in Car Accidents

Most car crashes are a result of unintentional or minor negligence on the part of a driver. This is why a large number of accidents only result in civil claims. If any criminal negligence is involved, it is remedied through routine traffic tickets. For instance, if a speeding driver hits you and caused some injuries, you can get damages through a civil claim. The state may also issue a traffic ticket and penalize the driver for the offense of speeding.

However, in more serious criminal offenses, a more thorough criminal litigation requires proof of criminal negligence. For instance, if a driver caused a fatal crash while driving under the influence, stiff penalties are sought through criminal litigation. Similarly, a hit-and-run driver is held guilty of having committed a serious criminal offense. The criminal penalties for a hit-and-run accident depend on the severity of the crash itself.

In this way, criminal litigation may be launched in parallel to civil litigation in a given car crash. Although both are treated as separate cases, the outcome of one may have some bearing on the outcome of the other. For instance, a driver is found to have acted criminally in causing a crash, there is a greater likelihood that the driver will also be found liable for the crash-related damages.

Hiring a Reliable Augusta Car Accident Lawyer

If you have been involved in a crash in Augusta, GA, we can help you recoup the full amount of compensation for your losses. Here at Ted Greve & Associates, we help Augusta crash victims launch civil litigation against the at-fault party as soon as possible. Contact us today to discuss your Augusta crash claim with our lawyers.