Victim of a crime in a car accident with a drunk driver

Attorney Ben Schwartz explains why victims in car accident cases with a drunk driver involved, may have both a criminal claim and a civil claim, which requires both types of lawyers.

Victim of a crime in a car accident with a drunk driver

Hi, I’m Attorney Ben Schwartz,

I’m going to answer a question from Shanice in Wilmington, Delaware. She wrote-in and said her family was a victim of a crime in a car accident with a drunk driver who caused the accident and injured the family members. They are currently going to court for the criminal case and they have applied for the victim compensation fund (VCF) for restitution through the Delaware Victims’ Compensation Assistance Program. Does she need an attorney? The answer is absolutely. You need an attorney.

There are two things that happen after you are the victim of a crime. There is the criminal case against the bad guy, but there is also a civil case against the bad guy. It is two completely separate cases. In the criminal case, the state is going to prosecute the criminal case against that bad guy. The state is going to bring him up on charges. The state prosecutor’s office and the deputy attorney general that is assigned to the case is going to take the guy to court and either offer a plea agreement, or prosecute the case through trial, in order to get a criminal conviction. The purpose of a criminal conviction is not necessarily to get you compensation for your personal injuries, or for your bad experience. The point of that criminal case, for the most part, is to deter further crimes; to stop others from doing the same criminal behavior. It is also to punish the wrongdoer, but it is not get you compensated.

If you are seeking compensation, although you may have made a claim through the victims’ compensation fund, you may have already filled-out paperwork to get restitution from the criminal defendant through the criminal case, that is not the same thing as receiving compensation for your pain and suffering for your past and future medical bills. It is not the same as receiving compensation if the crime resulted in a wrongful death. These are things that need to go through a civil case or a civil claim. In order to do that, you should contact a civil attorney, a personal injury attorney, or a wrongful death attorney to assist you.

That civil attorney is going to put together a personal injury or a wrongful death lawsuit. Part of what that attorney is going to do is try to find insurance coverage that would be available to pay compensation as part of your personal injury or wrongful death claim. I think the thing to know is, if you or a friend, or family member have been victims of a crime, there may very well be two things going on. There is a criminal case against the bad guy that is being prosecuted by the state, and also a civil case. The time is ticking on that civil case. Every state in the United States has a statute of limitations that limits the amount of time for you to bring a claim or file a lawsuit. So what you should do if you are interested in learning about your rights is contact an attorney in the state where the incident happened, or where you live, and get guidance from an attorney that does this for a living. Thanks for asking the question. I hope that gives you the information you need to know to take more steps to protect your rights. I’m Attorney Ben Schwartz, if you have a question for me and you would like it answered in this video format send me an email below.

Thanks for watching!

Victim of a crime in a car accident with a drunk driver

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