Understanding the Criminal and Civil Justice Systems

draining. Additionally, legal resolution may not come for years. A successful civil suit may provide you with a sense of justice and may result in financial resources

Carefully consider whether or not to bring a lawsuit before hiring an attorney.

needed by you or your family. It may also result in changes in laws or practices that will ultimately keep society

safer. These positive outcomes make a civil suit worthwhile in some instances.

Be sure that as you work with an attorney to honestly assess the legal merits of your case. Work with the attorney and trusted loved ones to weigh the psychological factors. The circumstances that have led you to consider legal action were sudden, violent and beyond your control. You had no choice in what happened but you do have choices in how you respond. Differences Between a Criminal and Civil Case If you sue the driver or a third party in a civil suit, you will be required to play a more substantial role than the criminal case. You are the plaintiff (the entity initiating the suit) rather than the State. Deciding to file a civil suit is totally separate from initiating the criminal case. While punishment is the desired outcome of the criminal suit, financial recovery of monetary damages is the desired outcome of the civil suit. You may feel uncomfortable getting financial reward for what happened because it feels like “blood money.” On the other hand, you may have costs associated with the crash that were not covered


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