Will a Truck Accident Criminal Trial Affect Your Civil Case?
A semi-truck accident will often result in the severe injury of many of those involved. A trucks massive size coupled with its immense weight makes for an especially dangerous combination when it comes to vehicles that can cause a collision. Those that have been involved in a semi-truck accident may be able to seek compensation for the injuries and damages that they have suffered through a personal injury claim or lawsuit.
The justification of these legal actions is typically the negligence that the at-fault party which makes them liable. These at-fault parties can include the trucking company, truck manufacturer, and most importantly, the driver. However, some claimants may run into a situation where their accident involved a driver that intentionally caused an accident and is being charged criminally or has been charged with a crime for some other aspect of the accident. This is can happen often and may have some influence over how a case will progress.
Florida Semi-Truck Accident Claims
Thanks to civil law, a person that was severely injured because of an accident caused by truck driver negligence or the negligence of another party, can seek compensation for the damages that they have suffered. Civil law is a totally separate system from criminal law which is concerned with trying and penalizing those that have been accused of perpetrating a crime. Civil law instead focuses on legal disputes between two parties that involve an injury caused by negligence. Both of these systems have totally different burdens of proof, processes, laws, etc.
A semi-truck accident claim hinges the injuries and damages suffered by the claimant and the negligence an at-fault party contributed to the accident that caused the aforementioned injuries and damages. A claimant files their claim and attempts to reach an out of court agreement with the party liable for their injuries via a settlement that covers the damages they suffered. This will usually involve the insurance of the liable party that will be the main player on the opposite side of the negotiating table and is responsible for actually paying out the settlement. This all is done through civil law.
Can I File a Lawsuit When a Driver is Criminally Charged?
You can still file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against a truck driver even if they are charged with a crime in relation to that accident. There is what is known as the “double jeopardy” rule that is specified in the Constitution. The rule pretty much means that you can’t be charged for the same crime twice. For example, if a truck driver is charged with driving under the influence and is not found guilty then that person can’t be charged for the same crime again down the line even if there is new evidence that is found. This rule is put in place to prevent the prosecutors an unfair advantage since multiple trials for the same crime will allow them to know a defendant’s strategy.
Luckily, a civil case is not at all concerned with a defendant’s guilt of a crime and instead is focused on liability and negligence. This means that double jeopardy does not apply to a claim so you definitely can still pursue compensation even if a truck driver is criminally charged.
How Will a Truck Driver’s Criminal Case Affect my Claim?
If a truck driver is charged with a crime relating to an accident that they caused that does not mean that their criminal trial will guarantee that you will receive compensation for your injures. As mentioned before, criminal and civil law have many differences and just because one trial is successful in one of these areas of law does not mean that it will have that same level of success in the other.
You may assume that since a truck driver lost their criminal case that they will automatically lose their case with you. Since you are seeking compensation for your injuries, the money will typically not come directly out of a semi-truck driver’s pockets. Semi-truck accident injuries and damages are generally some of the highest in value when it comes to personal injury cases. Instead, the compensation will come from that semi-truck driver’s insurance company.
That insurance company will not have anything to do with the criminal case and everything to do with a civil case seeking money for accident damages so a truck driver that may not have as strong of a defense attorney in a criminal case will have a significantly stronger defense in a civil case since the insurance company will be the one providing the legal resources and they have very powerful lawyers with a lot of experience dealing with these kinds of cases.
The Benefits of a Truck Driver’s Criminal Trial
The criminal trial that a truck driver will participate in will pretty much always happen before a civil trial which can lead to several benefits for your case. If that truck driver is convicted, it does not mean that they are found to be at-fault. For example, a driver can be convicted of a DUI but that does not mean that an accident was their fault if a driver that fell asleep at the wheel runs a stoplight and t-bone’s the truck driver that was drunk but was otherwise still driving according to other traffic rules. On the other hand, convictions are 100% fact so the details of one can help your case. If a truck driver is convicted of driving under the influence then there is no disputing that they were drunk driving in a civil case.
Also, there is a wealth of evidence that a criminal trial has that can be useful in a civil trial. Since civil and criminal law are so different, the evidence that can be gathered in each instance of law can be very different as well. Criminal prosecutors are not able to get ahold of certain kinds of evidence that a truck accident injury attorney can get ahold of and vice versa. Therefore a good lawyer that understands how to create a working relationship with prosecutors can get their hands on useful evidence to prove the defendant’s negligence.
Seek an Experienced Clearwater Semi-Truck Accident Attorney
At Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we regularly assist individuals who were involved in serious car accidents involving semis. We offer a free consultation, which gives you the opportunity to discuss your case with one of our experienced attorneys, and determine if you have a valid claim.
Our free consultation does not involve any obligation to become a client. If we agree to represent you, you will need to sign a retainer agreement before we start work on your case. Every case is different, and recovery depends on the specifics of each individual case, so we cannot guarantee a favorable result. However, we always do our best to ensure that our clients are fully compensated for their injuries.
Many factors could limit full recovery, and these factors are best explained by a truck accident attorney licensed to practice law in Florida. Contact Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA online or at (727) 451-6900, and talk to one of our experienced attorneys today.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 N Belcher Rd
Clearwater, FL 33765