While a criminal conviction is helpful in proving negligence in a civil case for damages, you can still claim compensation if a driver is not prosecuted as a result of an accident.
This is because there is a difference in the amount of proof and the type of evidence needed in criminal and civil cases. It is also because negligent or careless driving may result in accident and injury without ever being considered criminally actionable.
Standards of proof
The standard of proof required in a criminal prosecution is "beyond reasonable doubt". This means that if there is any doubt as to whether the person is in the wrong, then the criminal case may not succeed.
Civil claims for damages are different. Here the standard of proof is "on balance of probabilities", which is not such a high standard to prove. When deciding a case on the balance of probabilities, the court or judge must reach the conclusion that it is more likely than not that a particular event occurred in a particular way – i.e. that an accident occurred and that one or more parties carry a certain level of liability.
This means that while someone may not be culpable in the eyes of criminal law, he or she (the driver) can still be responsible under civil law.
It's a complicated area, but our car accident lawyers are experts in this field and will be happy to answer any queries you might have relating to your accident, how you would provide proof and, ultimately, how this could lead to Thompsons building a case that demonstrates liability on the balance of probabilities.
Criminal prosecutions and witness statements
Something else to bear in mind is that if you have been injured in a road accident that someone is being prosecuted for, you may find that you are cited as a witness in that case. If this happens make sure you keep all of the documentation and let your solicitor know what happened at the hearing.
All evidence and witness statements presented in the criminal prosecution may prove beneficial to the progress of your civil claim for compensation.
Road traffic offence prosecutions
According to the Ministry of Justice, in 2015, there were 644,181 recorded prosecutions in the Magistrates Courts for motoring offences.
In the same year, 188 drivers were formally charged with ‘causing death by dangerous driving’, and 201 were charged with ‘causing death by careless driving'.
Claim car accident compensation with Thompsons
If you have had an accident, even if you are unsure whether you can claim compensation in relation to it, contact our No Win, No Fee lawyers for free and without obligation on 0800 0891331.
We can provide useful information and advice for you and, should you decide to proceed, will investigate matters at the soonest opportunity.