Q: A few months ago I was hurt in a Lancaster County car accident by driver who had been using drugs. Although the police found marijuana and other drugs in the other driver’s car, there was something wrong with how they handled the evidence and all criminal
We can understand your frustration. The balance scales of criminal law can seem to lean a little to favor criminal defendants. Often enough, we’re actually in favor of the legal protections given to people accused of crimes: the government has so much more power and resources available than any individual that it should have to have overwhelming evidence to win its case. But when we see a bad person escape justice due to a loophole in the law, it doesn’t feel like something to celebrate.
Fortunately, the U.S. justice system isn’t limited to the criminal courts. You can file a civil claim against the driver to recover damages for the harm that was done to you. This sort of claim is completely independent of the criminal charges that have been dismissed. Because the standard of evidence is less burdensome in civil court—you don’t have to prove your case “beyond a reasonable doubt,” for instance—you may be more likely to get a satisfactory outcome in your civil case.
Your civil lawsuit serves the cause of justice just as much as a criminal conviction would have. In fact, you might find it more satisfying, because a successful case will result in a settlement or damage award that forces the driver who hurt you to pay you money for the inconvenience and losses she has brought into your life.
Three Key Checkpoints to Bring a Drugged Driver to Justice
However, winning your civil case will not be easy or automatic. Just as there are essential steps to follow after a car accident, you will find there are three important points that have to be considered before you can hope to win your civil lawsuit against a drugged driver. We will frame them as questions:
- Can you prove there was actual harm done in the car accident? You assert that you were hurt in the collision, but the degree of your injury and the proof you have available will be critical in deciding whether you can bring a viable claim. If you only suffered a few bruises and did not seek medical attention, there won’t be any way to document that you have suffered injuries worth the attention of the court. Especially because you had young children in the car, we can hope you did the prudent thing and took everyone for a medical examination soon after the accident. Those medical records will serve as proof that you and your family did indeed experience significant injuries.
- Can you prove that the other driver was negligent? Driving while intoxicated—either by drugs or alcohol—can reasonably be considered careless or negligent behavior. Even though the results of the police search of the other driver’s vehicle may not be admissible as evidence, the officer who arrested the driver may be able to testify about her intoxicated condition. Your attorney may also be able to find other witnesses when he investigates your claim.
- Do you have a realistic idea of the damages you might claim? It’s fairly straightforward to keep track of the costs of medical care, lost income, and out-of-pocket expenses due to a Lancaster car accident. Assigning dollar values to emotional suffering, pain, scars, changes in personal relationships, and other factors not usually expressed in monetary terms is much more challenging. You will want to have solid legal advice to tell you whether you’re asking for an unreasonable amount—or if you’re too willing to settle for far less than your claim is worth.
Getting experienced legal representation is crucial for protecting your long-term interests. It’s also essential to your drive for justice after your drugged-driving accident in central Pennsylvania. At the Harrisburg office of Schmidt Kramer, we have worked with hundreds of impaired driving car crash victims with cases similar to yours.
Give us a chance to explain our approach in a FREE, confidential meeting with one of our lawyers. Use the online contact form on this page or call our toll-free number at 888-476-0807 any time to get started. We can explain your legal rights in understandable terms and help answer the questions that have been keeping you awake at night.