When you suffer a serious injury in a car accident, the first thing you’ll likely focus on is recovering physically and emotionally. As time goes on, however, you may notice the financial impact of your accident and want justice from the person responsible. 

Most victims of car accidents press civil charges to receive compensation for what they’ve been through. In a civil lawsuit, you can receive compensation for both economic and non-economic damages you’ve suffered.

In rare cases, you can also receive compensation for punitive damages. But when the person who caused your accident destroyed your life because of their blatant negligence, they may deserve a more severe punishment.

My Experience from the Other Side

I worked in the public defender’s office for years and there were many times when car accidents resulted in both civil and criminal charges. Drunk driving is the most common thing we’d see. A drunk driver may need a public defender for a DUI charge while also dealing with civil charges from the victim they injured.

In these situations, I couldn’t help but look through the eyes of the victim. Here I was, sitting in the public defender’s office, trying to help win a case for someone who caused significant harm to another human being, but deep down I knew who my heart was really supporting.

Advice to Victims

If you’re reading this blog as a victim of a car accident, I’d tell you this: drunk drivers deserve more than civil punishment when they severely injure people, especially when it’s their second or third offense. 

Don’t feel ashamed to press both civil and criminal charges against the liable party in your wreck. They’ve ruined your life and money won’t always fix it. It’s important for them to learn their lesson in the criminal system.

I was never allowed to speak my mind while working at my job. I know public defenders serve a key purpose in giving citizens a fair trial under the law, but those cases stuck with me. I’m glad I have this outlet to speak my mind now.

So many car accidents result in civil lawsuits but not enough negligent drivers get the criminal charges they deserve. I don’t think our jails should be overcrowded for nothing, but in some situations when a driver nearly kills someone because they can’t learn their lesson with alcohol, something more than a fine must be issued.  

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