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Why Weren’t They Charged?!

You did everything right. They did everything wrong. What happens when the at-fault driver isn’t charged?

I get this question all the time. Someone is hurt in a car accident, the other driver was being a crazy person, and yet the police don’t charge them or only charge them with something fairly minor.  What gives?! Why weren’t they charged?! They were texting! They were drunk! They drove right into you!

I explain to people that thankfully I’m a civil injury lawyer and not a regulatory or criminal lawyer. If someone is charged, it can help my claim by showing the court that someone else believes the defendant is a bad driver in the circumstances, but it’s not necessary.

I have represented people successfully in injury cases where the other driver wasn’t charged at all, and I have represented people in injury cases where my driver was the one charged by the police.

The standard of proof for negligence in civil law is “balance of probabilities,” or more likely than not – 51%. My job is to prove that the conduct of the other driver fell below the standard of care of a reasonably prudent driver in the circumstances and that this breach caused my client’s injuries. If I can prove this, whether or not the police charged the driver, is irrelevant.

The bottom line is that a police charge is informative but not determinative of civil negligence. The bottom line is that when you have a question about fault, negligence, and compensation after a car accident, you need to talk to an experienced injury lawyer.

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