The Driver Was Found Criminally Liable in My Auto Accident – Can I Still Press Civil Charges?

Car accidents can occur for a myriad of reasons, from simple mistakes between two drivers to accidents caused by criminal wrongdoing by one of the parties. A classic example involves a person injured in a car accident due to the negligence of a drunk driver. At the Popham Law firm in Kansas City, MO, our personal injury attorneys often hear the following question: "Can I still press civil charges after the other driver was arrested?"

Criminal Liability in Car Accident Case | KC Personal Injury Attorneys

The short answer is "Yes." In Missouri, you can press civil charges after the driver was found guilty for criminal wrongdoing. In fact, you can press civil charges, and win, even if the driver was found "not guilty" in his/her criminal case.Mixing criminal and civil liability is a complicated aspect of Missouri law, but if you or a loved one was injured in an accident, make sure to call the leading KC personal injury attorneys at Popham Law. Free consultations are available.

Criminal Charges and Car Accident Lawsuits

When a person files civil charges (a personal injury lawsuit) in Missouri courts seeking compensation for damages incurred, they need to prove to the courts that:

  • The other driver was at-fault in the accident
  • The accident caused the injuries

Missouri is a "fault" state, meaning that the injured driver can 1) file a claim with his/her own insurer, 2) file a third-party claim with the at-fault driver's insurance carrier, or 3) file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver in courts. Either way, you'll need to prove that the other driver's negligence or wrongdoing led to the accident and caused your injuries.And in many cases, a very strong piece of evidence showing fault is the police records. If the other driver was charged with a crime, such as reckless driving, speeding, drunk driving, etc., you have strong evidence that may prove to the courts that the other driver is liable for civil charges.

Liability in an Accident Caused By a Drunk Driver

Drunk driving is a serious crime in Missouri, and law enforcement and criminal courts attempt to minimize the deadly consequences of drunk driving by imposing strict penalties for convicted individuals. As such, if the negligence of a drunk driver caused injuries, you can definitely file a lawsuit for civil damages.Proving liability in this situation can come from the other party's level of intoxication, detailed by breathalyzer tests or chemical tests. Relevant police records, witness testimony, and expert witness accounts are also fundamental in these cases.

The Other Driver Was Found Not-Guilty in Courts

The other driver was charged with a crime and was later found not-guilty in courts. Fortunately, in these cases, you can still take the other party to civil courts seeking compensation for damages incurred. Furthermore, even if the other driver was found not guilty, you can still win the civil case. This is due to the fact that criminal and civil courts are generally seen as separate entities.For example, the most famous relevant case here is the O.J. Simpson case. O.J. Simpson was found not-guilty in 1995 for the alleged murder of Nicole Brown-Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman. However, in 1997, a civil court found O.J. Simpson responsible for the murder and ordered him to pay $25 million in punitive damages.The point of the story is that even if the other driver was found not-guilty of criminal conduct, the civil courts may still find the other driver liable or responsible for the injuries that you incurred.

Contact the KC Car Accident Attorneys at Popham Law Today

Criminal charges serve as an important piece of evidence proving fault in a civil case. As such, if the other driver committed criminal negligence or wrongdoing and injured you, then you have the right under Missouri law to seek compensation for medical expenses, loss of income from work, loss of future earning capacity, and, in some cases, punitive damages.At the Popham Law Firm, we emphasize full-service legal representation for our clients, and our KC personal injury attorneys boast decades of combined experience to give you a comprehensive and diligent case. For a free, no-obligation with our personal injury attorneys, call our KC law firm today at (816) 221-2288.

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