Thousands of people are arrested each year for drunk driving in the state of Florida. In spite of ever-increasing criminal penalties and aggressive public awareness campaigns by private and public organizations alike, drunk driving continues to occur on a regular basis in Orlando and throughout the rest of the state. While almost everyone is aware of the fact that drunk driving can result in significant criminal penalties, less clear to those without legal training is the fact that drunk drivers can face civil liability as well. Below, the differences between the criminal and civil consequences of drinking and driving are discussed. For more information or to evaluate your specific case, call an experienced Orlando or central Florida car accident attorney today.
Criminal vs Civil - What's the Difference?
A criminal case is a legal action brought by the state on behalf of the general public in response to allegations that an individual violated Florida law. Criminal penalties include fines, probation, restitution, and jail time. On the other hand, a civil case is a lawsuit brought by a party that alleges that he or she has been injured by the negligence of another person. If the person who brings the civil lawsuit wins, he or she will receive monetary compensation for his or her losses, often including loss of value or damage to property, any medical expenses incurred, physical and emotional pain and suffering, and lost wages. Unlike a criminal case, the defendant cannot be jailed or be subjected to any other criminal penalties. Importantly, the burden of proof is significantly different in these two types of cases - in a criminal case, the state must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, while a civil plaintiff must only prove negligence by a "preponderance of the evidence" in order to recover.
Victims Must Take Action in order to Recover Compensation
Generally speaking, after a drunk driving accident, the criminal case does not require the involvement of the individual or individuals who have been injured in order to proceed. In presuming that law enforcement officers responded to the scene of the accident, they will have evaluated all of the drivers involved for signs of intoxication and gathered evidence of any intoxication if it existed. Thereafter, this information is sent to the prosecutor's office to decide whether or not a law was violated, and whether anyone should be prosecuted as a result. This is very different from a civil case, where in order to recover compensation, victims must take affirmative steps; - including filing a legal claim - in order to begin the process of establishing that the driver who injured them was in fact negligent. Where it is clear that the other driver was drunk, negligence will likely be conceded, but victims will still need to establish damages and make a claim to the drunk driver's insurance. The assistance of an attorney can ensure that the victims meet their deadlines in a timely manner and can help the injured obtain the full and fair value of their claim.
If you have been injured in an auto accident in which the other driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you are most likely entitled to significant legal compensation. Central Florida injury attorney Jonathan K. Allen is qualified to represent the rights of accident victims and strives to obtain the best possible compensation available in every case he takes. To schedule a free case evaluation with Mr. Allen, contact J. Allen Law, P.L. today at 407-205-2330. To retain legal representation outside the state of Florida, please contact a personal injury attorney, or an automobile accident lawyer, in the relevant jurisdiction in which the accident took place.
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