How are civil and criminal trials different?

Civil and Criminal TrialsIf you’ve suffered injuries that were the result of another party’s negligence, the responsible person may face both criminal and civil litigation. The major differences between a criminal trial and a civil trial relate to punishment and the burden of proof.

How Criminal Cases Work

After someone suffers an injury, law enforcement will investigate to determine if any criminal charges should be filed. For example, in a car accident, the at-fault driver may be charged with the criminal offenses of reckless driving or driving under the influence. The injured person will be asked to give a statement to be used as evidence in the state’s case.

To win the case, the prosecutor must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In a criminal case, a guilty verdict results in jail time and/or a monetary fine. Any fine is kept by the government.

How a Civil Case Works

A personal injury or wrongful death claim is a type of civil case filed by the injured person or the family of the deceased. In a civil trial, the burden of proof is significantly lower than in a criminal trial. Your attorney must only prove that it is more likely than not that the defendant is liable. In legal terms, this is called guilt based on a preponderance of the evidence.

In a civil case, an outcome that finds fault results in a monetary award for the victim or the victim’s estate. In a personal injury claim, the settlement includes compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In a wrongful death case, the settlement includes compensation for medical expenses up to the time of death, funeral and burial expenses, loss of future wages, pain and suffering in the deceased person’s final moments, and the family’s loss of the deceased person’s care and companionship.

How Hite & Stone Can Help

The personal injury attorneys at Hite & Stone are committed to protecting the rights of South Carolina residents who’ve suffered harm caused by the negligence of others. Our personal injury attorneys are available for free consultations today.