Lieberman, Ryan & Forrest, L.L.C.
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Do criminal and civil claims ever arise from the same car crash?

When another driver’s negligence rises to the level of recklessness, criminal liability may attach, in addition to potential civil claims. Yet recreating another driver’s actions may prove challenging in either context. Crash experts may reconstruct the scene, but in some instances, unexplained accidents may simply be imputed to a driver’s negligence. 

With the higher standard of proof in criminal trials, one might expect such inferences to not result in convictions unless there is conclusive evidence proving that an individual’s driving was criminally reckless. Yet according to a recent article, there are a growing number of defendants whose criminal convictions for reckless driving may have been due to a product defect, rather than their own actions. 

Specifically, the drivers may have been in cars with defective ignition switches that have since been recalled by General Motors, Inc. Last year, GM recalled around 64 million vehicles in the United States alone.

So what does this mean to the victim of a motor vehicle accident? A plaintiff in a civil lawsuit can allege alternative theories, and our law firm handles both personal injury and product liability lawsuits. That experience ensures that all avenues of compensation can be explored on behalf of accident victims.

Victims may not realize that they have a claim against a manufacturer or distributor of an unsafe vehicle. Wherever the negligence lies, however, the wheels of justice permit an injured party to bring a lawsuit. Finally, if a negligent driver is also facing criminal charges, we can keep an eye to any evidence revealed in that proceeding and seek to best utilize it in the accompanying civil case.

Source: Insurance Journal, “Drivers Convicted, Jailed for Crashes Now Blamed on Car Defects,” Margaret Cronin Fisk and Jeff Green, Sept. 2, 2015

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