Personal Injury vs. Criminal Cases

In South Carolina and throughout the nation, people are held responsible for their actions. When state legislatures create laws criminalizing acts, such as assault, battery, domestic violence, drunk driving, manslaughter and murder, violators face harsh consequences.

Generally, when someone knowingly and intentionally violates a state or federal law, they will be arrested and charged with a crime. For example, if someone “operates a motor vehicle” while they’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they can be charged with OUI under Section 56-5-2930.

On the other hand, under Section 16-3-600, when someone “assaults” another person and causes minor bodily injury, the offender commits a misdemeanor, punishable by up to three years in prison or by a fine not to exceed $2,500, or both – that’s pretty serious!

It’s clear that the state holds people accountable when they violate state laws and commit a crime. However, what if someone did something wrong and it was an accident? Since the person lacked “intent,” will they still go to jail or prison?

What Sets Civil Cases Apart

Unfortunately, accidents happen all the time; it’s human nature. When an individual or a company is careless or negligent and their behavior causes someone else to get hurt, often they will not face criminal prosecution, however, they can be held liable in civil court. It all depends on the law.

In other words, the victim or in the case of a wrongful death, the victim’s surviving family members, can file a lawsuit against the at-fault or liable party. The lawsuit may result in a settlement, or if the parties cannot reach a settlement, a jury may decide on an award.

To demonstrate, here are some examples where a accident may lead to a personal injury claim:

Under South Carolina’s personal injury laws, injured parties have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party for damages, such as: pain and suffering, medical bills, and lost income etc., and if there’s an opportunity, the injured should seize it.

Sometimes a case can be both criminal and civil, for instance, in the case of a drunk driving accident. Even though the drunk driver would be prosecuted in criminal court, that does not bar the victim from filing a personal injury lawsuit against the drunk driver. The drunk driver may face a criminal case and a civil case.

Essentially, there are circumstances where someone will face criminal charges for their behavior, yet the victim can still file a personal injury claim, even if the liable party is in jail or awaiting their criminal trial. Often, these cases are tied to premises liability.

If you need a Columbia, SC personal injury attorney, contact our office for a free case review!

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