After a car accident, victims should call an attorney as soon as possible after reporting the accident to the police. Because a police report only triggers an investigation within the criminal justice system, calling an attorney is the only way for victims to seek monetary compensation for the losses incurred in the accident. The two systems may run at the same time, but the process and results of each will be substantially different.
Triggered by: Police Report
The purpose of the criminal justice system is to punish someone for creating a public safety risk. Punishments may include jail time, probation, and fines. The victim, however, is not compensated for their loss or troubles. Victims frequently work with a victim advocate during the process but are not provided with a lawyer.
After a police report is filed, detectives conduct an official investigation of the circumstances and analyze the situation. Findings from the investigation are presented to the local prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor analyzes the findings from the investigation to determine if there is enough to prove a criminal offense. If there is, then the state will file a lawsuit against the person responsible for the accident. This is what many refer to as “pressing charges.” Criminal suits are most common in cases that involve other criminal factors, such as drunk driving and extreme road rage.
Triggered by: Calling a Lawyer
The purpose of a civil lawsuit is to make the person responsible for an accident compensate the victim for personal injuries and financial and material loss. Remedies generally include cash payments, property deeds, and specific performance of certain actions. The parties to a civil lawsuits are the victim (known as the plaintiff) and the person responsible for the accident (the defendant).
Victims frequently want more than criminal justice after a car accident. The best car accident attorney can help a victim understand what rights and obligations each party has and whether it makes sense to negotiate a settlement or file suit against the other party.
After a car accident, it is best to call the police and file a report right away so that the criminal justice process can begin its process. Calling the best car accident attorney available after that will allow a victim to secure compensation for the injuries sustained.