At first glance personal injury and criminal defense cases have nothing to do with one another. For example, a typical personal injury case arises from car accidents. One person’s negligence results in the accident, and the victim sues. By comparison, a typical criminal defense case arises when the defendant is arrested by police for committing a crime. How could they possibly be related? The truth is these cases often go hand in hand.
For example, let’s say the defendant in the aforementioned car accident case purposely caused the accident. Alternatively, maybe the driver was texting illegally or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These are criminal offenses, but anyone injured in the resulting car accident also has grounds to build a civil case against the offender. This case will be made that much easier if the defendant is found guilty in criminal court.
The biggest difference between a criminal defense attorney and personal injury attorney is the type of court in which they argue a case. Criminal defense attorneys fight against criminal charges, while personal injury attorneys fight against civil charges. Criminal defense attorneys fight in criminal court, while personal injury attorneys fight in civil court. Generally, you won’t see these two types of attorney mix — even though they’re related because the cases are often related.
Both types of cases require similar groundwork as well, which means both types of attorneys will perform similar tasks. The first act of business is investigating a claim. Does the claim have merit? Is the person with the claim acting due to actual injury, or might they be lying? Might they be acting vindictively? The answers to these questions matter in court.
Both types of lawyers will begin to gather evidence and document every aspect of a case. They collect eyewitness accounts, police reports, bills, video surveillance, and explore expert testimony if needed. Criminal defense lawyers will contact the prosecution to explore a plea deal when a client will likely be found guilty of a crime. Personal injury lawyers will likely contact insurance adjusters if a client is entitled to other means of compensation.
Both civil and criminal cases conduct discovery, which is gathering evidence from the opposing side. Generally, an attorney will send someone to conduct an interview with the defendant or plaintiff and the opposition’s counsel. Neither side has the right to refuse the discovery process, but a criminal defense attorney might ask his client to plead the fifth — especially when guilty, but sometimes to legally conceal information that might be interpreted incorrectly in court.
Both types of lawyers might end up arguing a case in court, but both would almost always prefer to settle a case outside of court to save time and money.
Visit our website for more information on how personal injury and criminal defense cases are interrelated. Our network of qualified personal injury and criminal defense attorneys can help steer you in the right direction and find legal representation in every corner of the United States.