If you’ve been in a serious accident, you may not know where to turn or what your legal rights are. After you’ve sought medical attention and taken some time to ground yourself, it’s best to get in touch with a lawyer. Whether you were in a car, were wrongfully hurt by a physician or defective product, or sustained injuries on someone’s property, you may have grounds to file a personal injury claim. With the right legal team backing you, you’ll receive the compensation you need to recover.
In addition to the civil claim, there are some accidents that can also result in criminal charges. If you believe your accident may apply to both areas, getting in touch with a lawyer as soon as possible is the best action you can take for your future and your recovery.
Table of Contents
How Civil and Criminal Matters Intersect in Illinois
When an accident initially happens, it’s not always clear as to whether there are both civil and criminal implications. Personal injury claims are often based on neglect, while criminal charges are brought about when someone breaks a law. The two often intersect in the event a drunk driver causes a car accident. The victim can file a personal injury claim and seek compensation for their losses because the intoxicated driver breached their duty to the other driver. Criminal charges can be filed based on their blood alcohol content level while they were driving and at the time of the crash.
With a civil case, personal injury lawsuits are designed to determine if the accident victim is entitled to compensation for their losses. A determination is made for how much. Many personal injury claims are settled outside of court. When criminal charges are involved and the case goes to court, the government is responsible for convicting those who violated the law.
It’s also important to note that one of the biggest differences between a civil and criminal case is the required burden of proof. With a civil case, the standards are lower because only a preponderance of evidence is needed. With a criminal case, however, the evidence must show guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Types of Felony Charges in Illinois
According to Illinois law, criminal charges are assigned a value based on severity. They are broken down into five classes. Each class has its own penalty:
- Class X – six to 30 years in prison
- Class 1 – four to 15 years in prison
- Class 2 – three to seven years in prison
- Class 3 – two to five years in prison
- Class 4 – one to three years in prison
Crimes that are considered felonies include DUI, retail theft, burglary, robbery, possession with intent to deliver, home invasion, attempted murder, and murder.
How a Criminal Case can Impact Compensation
When a person files a personal injury claim and seeks compensation, they may be eligible for economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages, which are the easiest to calculate, are for monetary losses like medical bills, lost wages from missed work, and property damage costs. Noneconomic damages can be challenging to total up, as they’re based on things like the victim’s pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment. In a wrongful death case, the family can also seek compensation for loss of companionship, guidance, etc.
In some case where gross negligence was present, the victim or victim’s family may be eligible for punitive damages – which serve to punish the negligent party for their actions or inactions and deter them from acting similarly in the future.
With a criminal case, a guilty defendant will be punished with jail time, fines, or community service of some kind. Compensation for the victim is not typically involved. In some cases, however, victims may be awarded restitution. That type of compensation can cover expenses for psychological treatment, future medical costs, pre- and post- judge interest, and adjustment expenses.
Your compensation eligibility will depend on the circumstances surrounding your accident and injuries. A personal injury lawyer from Thomas Law Offices can examine your claim and work to ensure you receive full and fair compensation.
Get Help from Thomas Law Offices in Chicago
No matter how your accident happened, if it resulted from negligence you can hold the responsible party accountable for their actions. With the help of our experienced lawyers, we can evaluate your situation and help you determine how best to proceed. We have experience handling civil and criminal cases. For more information on the benefits of working with an attorney or to file your claim, get in touch with our office today.