On November 12, a 23-year-old man was killed during a fatal hit-and-run accident in Geauga County, Ohio. The hit-and-run driver rear-ended the victim, which caused his death, then fled the scene. He has now been found and arrested.
While the hit-and-run driver faces criminal charges for fleeing the scene of the accident, the victim’s family is also entitled to file a civil suit. Here’s how civil suits work when the defendant is facing criminal charges.
The difference between civil and criminal suits
Criminal charges are brought by the government, be it federal or local prosecutors. If a defendant is convicted of the charges, they typically face jail time and fines. In some cases, they may be eligible for rehabilitative programs, probation or other less severe consequences. The standard of proof in a criminal suit is very high (beyond a reasonable doubt) because a conviction often results in impeding a defendant’s freedom.
Civil lawsuits are brought by citizens (or businesses) against other individuals and entities. Rather than jail time, remedies include monetary compensation, which is paid to the plaintiff. Civil suits are decided on a distinctly lower burden of proof: the plaintiff only has to prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence. A preponderance of evidence means that it’s more likely than not that a defendant did that of which they were accused.
Filing a civil suit against a criminally charged defendant
Plaintiffs (victims or their families) are entitled to file a civil suit against a criminally charged defendant, if there is an appropriate cause of action. For example, in the hit-and-run case above, the victim’s family could file a civil lawsuit for wrongful death. Even if the defendant is not convicted of criminal charges, they may still find monetary relief in a civil suit. One famous example of this is the O.J. Simpson murder trial. He was acquitted of criminal charges, but was successfully sued for wrongful death in civil court.
If you choose to file a lawsuit against a criminally charged defendant, it’s important to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. Ohio has a two-year statute of limitations for most personal injury claims. Don’t wait until the criminal charges are resolved, since even simple cases can take years to reach a verdict.
Call the Law Offices of Tim Misny to discuss filing a civil claim as a crime victim. We’ll review your case and explain your legal options, so you can get the compensation you deserve.
Consult an Ohio personal injury attorney today
The Law Offices of Tim Misny can help you with your personal injury claim. If you suffered injury as a result of someone else’s negligence or recklessness, I’ll Make Them Pay!® Call my office at (800) 556-4769 so that I can evaluate your case right away.