Criminal defense cases cover both criminal suits — charges brought by the government to punish an individual for an act classified as a crime — and civil suits — claims brought by individuals or organizations as a dispute over rights and duties.
Most people know insurance is involved after they are injured in a car accident, and we have discussed before the different types of insurance that may be applicable when dealing with an auto injury claim. But often times people are still confused as to what happens to the person who caused the accident. The reality is that unless the individual that caused the accident is facing serious criminal charges separate from the civil action such as DUI or motorvehicle homicide, they usually do not have much to do with the injury case at all unless and until the matter goes to trial.
There are a few situations where if a person is seriously injured, and the person who caused the accident is extremely underinsured (i.e. someone such as Warren Buffet is driving a car with only $50,000 in insurance coverage when he himself is worth billions – obviously, this is for purposes of illustration only as someone like Warren Buffet would likely have plenty of insurance coverage and Berkshire Hathaway owns GEICO) then the injured party and his or her accident injury attorney will pursue the at-fault party over and above the insurance coverage that is available. However, most injury claims do not fall into this category. In most injury claims there is either plenty of insurance to cover the injured person’s injuries; or, if there is not enough insurance money, the person who caused the accident is not worth pursuing because they don’t have any money or assets over and above the coverage that is available.
Now, this can be confusing because your injury claim is still against the person who caused the accident. In most situations you cannot sue the insurance company directly for injuries caused by their insured. Rather you sue the person who was negligent and caused the accident, and the insurance company is the one who foots the bill (up to the amount of coverage contracted for by the negligent party). This is why you often times see families and close friends suing each other. A common example of this is two cousins riding together in a car. If the cousin driving the car is negligent and drives into a tree, and as a result the other cousin is injured, often times the injured cousin and his/her family will sue the kid driving the car (i.e. someone’s niece ot nephew). The reason for this is typically not that the injured party wants to bankrupt their niece or nephew, but rather that pursuing the niece or nephew is the only way to gain access to the insurance money to help pay for medical bills and other damages that were sustained.
The bottom line is that in most accident injury cases verdicts and settlements are paid by insurance companies, not out of the pocket of the negligent person who caused the accident.