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Can I bring a civil lawsuit if a criminal case is pending against a drunk driver in Illinois?

Yes, you may be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against a driver even if a criminal case is pending against the same driver for the Illinois accident that caused your injuries.

Why This Is Permitted

Civil and criminal lawsuits are brought by different parties and serve different purposes. It is up to the state of Illinois to decide whether to bring a criminal case and it is up to the state of Illinois to prosecute that case. In order to have a drunk driving case, the prosecutor will need to be able to prove that the driver who caused your accident violated a criminal statute. While you may be a witness in the case and you may be interested in the outcome of the case, you are not a party to the case and you will not recover damages even if the driver is convicted.

Why You Should Consider a Civil Lawsuit Even After a Conviction

As the person who has been physically injured by the drunk driver, however, you may have the right to bring your own personal injury lawsuit.

As the plaintiff in this type of case you would allege that the driver was negligent and that his intoxication was evidence of his negligence. If you are successful in proving that the driver was negligent, then you may be able to recover damages. These damages may include compensation for your past, current and future medical expenses, lost income, out-of-pocket costs, pain, suffering and other accident related losses.

For this reason, it is important to carefully consider all options and to take action to protect your rights.

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham