When someone is accused of a criminal offence, whether due to a car accident or more heinous wrongdoing, they’re often so consumed with planning for their day in court that they don’t consider the effect of the charges on civil proceedings.
Many assume that a Highway Traffic Act or Criminal Code conviction is separate from a future civil law claim. However, according to a number of legal experts, a criminal charge, and even more so a conviction, can greatly affect a civil injury suit.
“Evidence and guilty verdicts in criminal proceedings will inevitably have an impact on a civil case,” explains Wendy Moore Mandel, a partner and personal injury lawyer at Thomson, Rogers in Toronto. “The question remains, how much impact? The weight afforded will depend on the nature and circumstances of each case.”
Moore Mandel, who acts on behalf of seriously injured people in personal injury and medical malpractice cases, says issues arise when civil courts are asked to deal with matters that have previously proceeded through the criminal court system.
One issue the courts must deal with is whether the facts from a criminal conviction should stand up in civil court. The other is how much weight a judge in a civil trial should give to evidence that was presented during a criminal proceeding.
Moore Mandel says that the Canadian system recognizes that it’s a waste of resources to re litigate the facts that have been determined by another court. “Despite the differences between the criminal and civil forums, courts have increasingly recognized that the final decision of a competent, expert, criminal court should be an important, and in some cases, a decisive factor in subsequent civil proceedings.”
View full article as it appeared in The Lawyers Weekly, Recover Personal Injury Magazine (Vol. 3, No. 1): Criminal Conviction Can Have Big Impact On A Civil Case
For more information, contact personal injury lawyer Wendy Moore Mandel.