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Can traffic violations lead to civil damages?

When you think about a criminal conviction in how it may relate to a car accident, you probably don’t think there is a relationship; unless of course there’s a crash caused by a drunk driver. Nevertheless, there could be traffic violations that lead to a criminal conviction, which could be used in a future civil claim.

Criminal matters could lay the foundation for future negligence claims because evidence of a traffic violation could be used to prove that a driver failed to use reasonable care while driving their vehicle. Because the criminal standard of proof is higher (beyond a reasonable doubt), it is easier to use a criminal matter to prove negligence because in civil cases, since the burden of proof is much lower.

Essentially, a civil litigant can win by just showing that a person was negligent through a preponderance of the evidence; meaning that more likely than not the defendant caused the accident.

So, for example, a person is accused (in a civil case) of causing great bodily harm in car/pedestrian accident. If the driver was convicted of failing to yield to a pedestrian, this conviction could be used as proof that the driver was negligent. The criminal conviction would basically mean that more likely than not, the driver was not using reasonable care and that such a failure to use such care was the proximate cause of the accident.

So if you are being charged with a traffic violation in relation to a car accident, it may be helpful to address the criminal matter thoroughly.

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