A hit-and-run driver was arrested after he was accused of attempting to flee after crashing his truck into two other vehicles and a bicyclist. The bicyclist died of their injuries.
The accidents occurred on westbound Route 92 in Polk County, around 10pm. After the driver hit one vehicle, he drove off and rear-ended another vehicle about two miles away. He swerved off the roadway and struck a cyclist riding alongside the road. The driver continued to flee. The cyclist was pronounced dead at the scene.
The hit-and-run driver apparently showed signs of alcohol impairment, and told authorities that he had been drinking but was unsure of how many times he had “wrecked.” He has been charged with causing property damage and leaving the scene of a crash involving death.
How do criminal charges affect a civil case?
When a defendant is charged with a criminal offense, they are subject to the criminal justice system’s process. Criminal charges result in jail time, fines and related penalties. Civil charges are different: if liable, a defendant might pay monetary fines or be restrained from certain actions, among other outcomes.
If you’ve been involved in an accident which includes criminal liability, you may still be able to file a civil case against the defendant. Aside from penalties, the other major difference between civil and criminal charges is the burden of proof. To convict a criminal defendant, the burden of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt”—the highest standard there is.
To hold a civil defendant liable, however, you only have to prove your case by a preponderance of the evidence: that is, the defendant was more likely than not to be responsible for the offense. In short, this is a much lower standard that can be easier to meet than in criminal court.
If, however, the defendant is convicted of a related criminal charge, you may be able to use that as evidence that the defendant is responsible for their civil charges.
For more information about hit-and-run accidents, contact a knowledgeable Sarasota, FL auto accident lawyer at Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez, Murphy & Walsh.