When Can an Injury Case Be Both Civil and Criminal?

In some personal injury cases, the individual responsible for our client’s injury has been charged with a crime as well. A common example of this is a drunk driving accident case. An accused drunk driver may face charges of driving while intoxicated in Nevada criminal court and face a separate civil lawsuit seeking financial compensation for causing injuries. Such an incident may lead to separate trials under Nevada criminal and civil law.

Another example of a case that might be heard in criminal and civil proceedings is an assault by a casino, club, or hotel staff members, such as a private security guard, or a bouncer. If a customer was severely injured in such an assault, the staff member could be charged with a crime and their employer might be sued to pay for the customer’s medical bills and other losses.

If you have been injured because someone else has broken the law, the perpetrator may face criminal prosecution. You also may have the option under Nevada civil law to hold the individual financially accountable for the harm you suffered and demand compensation for your medical expenses, lost work time, pain and suffering, and more.

At Sam & Ash Injury Law, our Las Vegas personal injury lawyers are ready to help you demand justice and What’s Right if you have been injured by someone else’s criminal conduct. We can review the details of your injury and discuss your legal options. Give us a call 24/7 to get started.

How Can a Case Be Both Criminal and Civil?

Some incidents involve both violations of criminal law and financial harm to the victim that may be addressed through a civil lawsuit.

After a drunk driving accident, for example, the intoxicated driver will face criminal charges if the driver was found to have a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more, the legal threshold for drunk driving charges in Nevada. Police would file charges against the driver and the driver would face prosecution and criminal penalties if convicted.

The impaired driver also would be financially liable for the harm caused to others in the drunk driving accident. An accident victim could file a separate civil lawsuit against the drunk driver demanding compensation for medical bills and loss of income related to the accident.

What Is the Difference Between Criminal and Civil Law?

Our nation’s laws as set forth by federal, state, and local governments are categorized as either civil law or criminal law. They are two separate spheres of law with different standards of proof and different remedies.

A criminal offense is charged as an offense against society as a whole. The state prosecutes and seeks to punish those convicted on behalf of society. Criminal charges may arise from such offenses as theft, assault, robbery, traffic violations, and many other activities.

In criminal court, the state must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to convict an accused offender. A defendant who is found guilty may be punished by incarceration and/or fines. Lesser penalties, such as probation, counseling, and community service, may be available for first-time violations of nonviolent crimes.

A civil case is a lawsuit in which the plaintiff, who claims to have been financially injured by the defendant, asks the court to compel the defendant to make them whole financially. Depending on the type of case, a plaintiff may seek to have the requirements of a contract fulfilled, or compel the defendant to pay compensation for the plaintiff’s injuries and loss of income.

In a civil lawsuit, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff, but the standard is lower than in a criminal case which requires proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. To prevail in a civil case, you only have to show that a preponderance of evidence indicates the defendant is liable. It is sometimes stated as the jury’s belief that it is “more likely than not” that the defendant is responsible.

Civil cases often involve contract disputes, such as business disputes, landlord/tenant disputes, and property ownership disputes.

Personal injury cases are civil cases that involve an implied contract that says each of us in society has a legal obligation to exercise reasonable caution and prudence to avoid harming others as we go about our daily lives.

The defendant in a personal injury case is typically accused of violating their duty of care through negligence. For example, a driver might fail to exercise the proper degree of caution when operating a car and cause an accident as a result, causing harm to others.

A personal injury claim would assert that:

  • The intoxicated driver had a legal duty to obey traffic laws and drive in a manner that avoids jeopardizing the safety of others
  • The drunk driver violated that obligation by driving while legally intoxicated and causing a collision
  • The collision caused injuries to the individual filing the civil lawsuit
  • The person’s injuries can be mitigated with compensation for medical bills, vehicle repair, lost income, and pain and suffering.

The criminal prosecution and the civil lawsuit would proceed separately. If the defendant somehow was found not guilty of driving under the influence, a personal injury attorney would still present evidence that the at-fault driver caused the collision by violating the law and is therefore financially responsible for the harm caused.

Any compensation awarded typically would come from the at-fault driver’s liability insurance.

In an assault by a security staff member of a Las Vegas entertainment establishment, an injured person might pursue civil claims against the staff member who committed the alleged assault and against the employer.

The civil lawsuit would assert that:

  • The staff member (such as a security guard or bouncer) breached their duty to a legal patron of the establishment by assaulting the individual in a manner that exceeded the authority granted by their position
  • The employer (such as a casino, club, or hotel) was financially responsible for the actions of its employee who the establishment hired and failed to properly train and supervise.
    A staff member at a Las Vegas entertainment establishment may not have the resources to pay for your medical bills and other losses if they were sued for assaulting you. However, an employer is responsible for their employee’s actions, and business liability insurance coverage is required because situations like this can arise.

In addition to our civil claim for injuries, the staff member who committed the unjustified assault could be criminally charged if the person was seriously injured. Anyone who requires medical attention after a physical encounter with the staff of a hotel, casino, or restaurant in Las Vegas should file a complaint with the Las Vegas police.

In addition to those potential charges, we would investigate the employee’s background and expect to find any other assault charges or acts of violence on their record, indicating they had a propensity to assault patrons of the establishment. These charges would support our claim that the employer breached their duty of care to the public by hiring this individual.

Examples of Cases That Could Be Civil and Criminal

Other types of cases that might lead to criminal charges and a civil claim for compensation include:

  • Negligent security at a Las Vegas hotel or another lodging that resulted in an assault, or robbery. An assault could lead to criminal charges against the alleged perpetrator and a civil claim against the hotel ownership for failure to secure the premises adequately to protect hotel guests.
  • Nursing home abuse, which could result in a staff member being criminally charged and a civil claim against ownership for failing to screen and supervise the staff member.
  • Rideshare (Uber/Lyft) accidents, in which the company could be held financially liable for injuries the rideshare driver caused.

In an extreme case in which an assault or other criminal act caused a person’s death, a civil claim for wrongful death could be pursued after criminal charges were settled. A wrongful death claim seeks damages for surviving family members.

Talk to Our Personal Injury Attorneys in Las Vegas, NV

Criminal law allows society to hold wrongdoers accountable. But to make things right for you financially after an assault or other criminal act has injured you, you must file a civil claim. If someone else’s negligence or recklessness has left you with serious injuries through no fault of your own, talk to Sam & Ash Injury Law in Las Vegas for a free case review. We’re here 24/7 to answer your questions and demand What’s Right for you.

Call us today or contact us online. We’ll take the time to understand your circumstances and make sure you understand your legal options.

Author: Sam Mirejovsky

For more than 20 years, Sam Mirejovsky has been helping people who have been hurt due to negligence and wrongdoing. Bringing a client-centered approach to every case, Sam believes that getting the care you need and the justice you deserve is only achieved when you take the time to understand your client and their personal circumstances. This mindset has helped him change the landscape of personal injury law and recover millions of dollars for injured people and their families.