Can Criminal Charges On Either Party Impact A Personal Injury Claim?
In the example that you used with regard to driving under the influence, it would be prudent for the plaintiff’s attorney to wait to see whether or not the criminal charges are done and a jury, judge or the actual person being charged admits to the guilt because driving under the influence is a felony in the state of Florida. As a result of that, if you are convicted of that crime, then civilly, the lawyer may ask for punitive damages which are damages above and beyond your compensatory damages to make you whole for punishment because of the reckless behavior of driving under the influence.
If you are referring to a lesser charge, for example, careless driving because you rear-ended another vehicle and as a result of that, there is a statute that says because you rear ended another vehicle, so you are charged with careless driving, which is a misdemeanor, a traffic ticket violation, those types of violations are irrelevant in the civil case because the police report and the infraction are not even admissible in the civil case. The standard of proof with regard to liability in a civil case is completely different than one in a criminal case where a criminal is beyond reasonable doubt; civil is greater weight of the evidence.
So under the greater weight of the evidence scale in a civil case, your proof is only more likely than not that something occurred whereas in a criminal case, you have a much stricter burden of proof beyond reasonable doubt because someone’s’ liberty is at stake, so it is completely different. We would only really monitor the outcome of a criminal proceeding if it was a severe reckless criminal act that caused our clients damages because that way, if they are found guilty, then we can proceed with punitive damages as well as compensatory damages.
How Can Alcohol Or Drug Use Impact A Personal Injury Claim?
It could completely affect or change the case if the client that you are presenting was under the influence of alcohol and was injured. That is something that could affect your ability to be rewarded compensation. On the other side of that, if the person who caused the incident was under the influence of alcohol, they would be made to pay more money in addition to damages to make the victim whole, you would be made to pay punitive damages, damages to punish you for your reckless behavior. So alcohol and drugs do play a big factor in civil cases, so it simply just depends on what exactly happened and who the parties were that were consuming the alcohol.
How Can An Attorney Counteract If Evidence Is Misplaced Or Some Other Mishap Happens?
That is why it is important that you retain an attorney immediately after your accident or incident so that the attorney can immediately begin to gather evidence. Many times, when there is a delay in seeking legal help, we lose evidence, videos that could have seen the incident are looped or deleted. It is important that no evidence is spoiled and upon representation, we immediately begin what we call the spoliation of evidence gathering.
We immediately put everyone on notice that we are representing this person and that we are seeking that no evidence be destroyed, whether it is in the form of video, a certain device or machine that caused the injury or whatever the case may be. The timeliness of getting competent legal representation is incredibly important and does make a difference as to whether or not you will be able to recover down the line in your personal injury matter.
Do Insurance Companies Try To Utilize A Pre-Existing Condition To Their Benefit?
Absolutely. The insurance companies are going to use everything in their power to diminish your potential claim. That begins the moment you get into the accident. That is why it is so incredibly important that you immediately seek legal help with regards to your claim and that everything is documented as best as possible because the insurance companies will try and argue that the condition that you are now alleging was an old one and should not be compensated because you already were having that condition. There are ways to negate that. Particularly when someone has a prior incident in their life, does the right thing and seeks medical attention and gets better and then they are no longer under the care of any doctors, they are living their lives productively and bam, a new incident occurs which causes that cascade of new symptoms with regard to the same old injury which were not there before and now begin to manifest. That is something that is an aggravation of the condition that was dormant and preexisting and it is completely compensable under Florida law.
For more information on Criminal Charges & Personal Injury Claims, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (305) 985-7800 today.
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