What’s the difference between criminal and civil cases?

After drunk driving accidents, it may be very important for Tampa families to understand some of the differences between a civil and a criminal case. This is because following a drunk driving accident, the person who was intoxicated may be charged with a crime.

The victim or the family of the victim may also start considering what the options are for getting compensation for medical bills, lost wages and other expenses that they will no doubt incur after a serious automobile accident.

Sometimes, though, the family may wait several months to sue the drunk driver for whatever reason, possibly because not all medical expenses have been billed yet or as part of an overall legal strategy. During the delay, the drunk driver’s criminal case may continue, and, unfortunately, it may wind up getting dismissed. The driver may even wind up getting found “not guilty” by a jury.

This should not scare a family off from their civil lawsuit, however. The big difference a Florida family should keep in mind between a civil case and a criminal case is that the burden of proof is very different. In a criminal DUI case, the state has to prove a person guilty of drunk driving beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil suit, a family need only prove it is more likely than not that a driver was intoxicated and that intoxication caused the accident.

While it is probably frustrating for a family who has been affected by a drunk driver not to get justice through the criminal system, they should remember that other options are available and may be easier to achieve and better able to compensate them financially for their losses.

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