California civil lawsuits generally involve private disputes between people or entities. In contrast, criminal cases involve actions that the law considers harmful to society and violate a state or federal criminal law. In several situations, these offenses can overlap, and a defendant may face both criminal and civil charges. The critical differences in these cases involve the defendant’s penalties and the damages a victim can recover.
Civil cases commence when a plaintiff files a claim against a person who failed to meet a legal duty they owed to the plaintiff or victim. These lawsuits may be filed in state or federal court depending on where the offense occurred and the specific details of the incident. A judge or jury hears and decides the case, and if appropriate, they award damages to the plaintiff. On the other hand, criminal cases involve the government filing a formal indictment against the defendant. A District Attorney or United States Attorney’s Office pursues the claim against the defendant. A judge or jury hears the case and determines what criminal penalties are appropriate. Criminal penalties may include incarceration, probation, and restitution.
Overlaps may occur when the offense involves an act that may result in a civil and criminal charge, such as drunk driving, assaults, and batteries. Injury victims must often pursue civil charges to recover compensation for the injuries and damages they suffered. Criminal restitution typically does not meet the extent of a victim’s losses. As such, civil cases are especially important when the incident resulted in significant damages and losses. Injury victims do not need to await criminal charges or the result of a prosecution to pursue civil claims against the at-fault party especially, because these criminal cases may punish the defendant but not adequately compensate the victim.
For instance, according to a recent news article, the family of a woman who died in a California car crash is demanding that the district attorney press charges against the speeding driver who slammed into her. Nearly a month after the accident, the teen driver has yet to be charged with a crime. The accident occurred when the victim was driving home from work, and a Lamborghini struck her vehicle. Law enforcement stated that the 17-year-old driver was speeding when he crashed into the woman. Although the teenager was booked for vehicular manslaughter, the state has yet not pressed charges. This case illustrates a situation where a family may find more swift relief for their damages through a civil claim.
Have You Suffered Injuries in a California Accident?
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries or died in a California car accident, contact the Neumann Law Group for assistance. The attorneys at our law firm understand the devastating toll that accidents can take on a person and their loved ones. We work on behalf of California injury victims to ensure that they effectively pursue the damages they deserve. We handle claims stemming from motor vehicle accidents, slip-and-falls, medical malpractice, premises liability, product liability, work injuries, and wrongful deaths. Contact our office at 800-525-6386 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at our firm.