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Jim Desmond Law Office,PLLC

Criminal law versus Civil Law In regard to Car Accidents

Criminal law versus Civil LawRemember that there is criminal law and civil law. Criminal law means the State can assert fines against you and possible make you serve jail time. Civil law means that you, the injured victim, have the right to recover money damages from the party that was negligent if their negligence injured you.  Yes, that is an oversimplification but accurate for now.

Civil law controls the facts of the car wreck and the claim for pain and suffering. The fact that your driver’s license may have been revoked or suspended at the time of the car wreck does not make automatically at fault for causing the car wreck.  The real questions for a car wreck in Kentucky are: 1) who was at fault for the car wreck; 2) who was injured in the car accident and; 3) what insurance policies can we recover from.  A criminal citation, such as for having a suspended license, does not automatically change these questions or whose negligence caused the car accident.  While it may play a role in the amounts recovered, it does not automatically prevent a claim for pain and suffering.  Below is part of an answer I posted on Avvo.com wherein this issue was raised:

For the moment, ignore your license or lack of license issue. For a civil case, you have to show negligence on the other driver. The lack of the license does not affect the pain and suffering claim for the motor vehicle wreck. Your first step, if the Officer gave you a report number, start trying to get the accident report through buycrash.com. If you were injured, go ahead and see a doctor or hospital. The no-fault part of the State refers to the fact that your insurance company will be responsible for the first $10,000 of your medical bills even though they can, at a later date, recover them back from the other driver. If the Officer issued a citation for the lack for driver’s license, that falls under criminal law and will not affect your pain and suffering, or property damage claim, from the wreck.

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