Injuries from car accidents and slip or trip and falls affect the lives of many Albertans each year. According to the Alberta Centre for Injury Control and Research, between 1999 and 2008, most hospital admissions for Albertans aged 15 to 34 were related to motor vehicle accidents and 41% of all hospital admissions were related to a fall. Injury accidents and falls are often not the fault of the injured person, but of someone else. If you have been injured as a result of the negligence of another person or entity, you are entitled at law to receive money for pain and suffering, as well as for expenses and costs related to the injury – this is part of Private law and will result in a civil case. If you have been injured as a result of the criminal activity of another person or entity, charges may be laid, and the criminal may face penalties such as fines or even prison time – this is part of Public law and will result in a criminal case. Here is how the Justice Department of Canada describes the differences between these systems: “Laws can be divided into public and private law. Public law is concerned with matters that affect society as a whole. It includes criminal, constitutional and administrative law. Public laws set the rules for the relationship between the individual and society or for the roles of different governments. For example, if someone breaks a criminal law, it is regarded as a wrong against society as a whole. Private law, also called “civil law,” deals with the relationships between individuals. Civil laws set the rules for contracts, property ownership, the rights and obligations of family members, damage to someone or to their property caused by others and so on. A civil case is an action between private parties, primarily to settle private disputes… that is, where someone sues someone else.” It is possible that a person may be charged with a crime and sued in a civil action for the same conduct. An example of this would be a drunk driver who caused a car accident; that driver could be charged by the police, and also sued by someone he or she injured in the accident. Both cases could go to court separately, one in the criminal division and one in the civil division. For more information about the differences between the criminal and civil justice systems in Canada, please visit the Justice Department.