Normally, a car accident is a purely civil issue -- no matter how serious the accident or injuries involved. There are some times, however, when a car accident can also become a criminal issue, and you may find yourself facing charges after a wreck.
Here's what can turn a simple car accident into a criminal offense.
Sometimes, the momentary confusion and panic that sets in after an accident can cause people to make choices that they'd never make in their more rational moments. That's often exactly what happens in a hit-and-run situation. Imagine that a pedestrian walks out in front of you suddenly or another vehicle t-bones your car while making a turn. Even if you're the victim -- or are at least blameless for the accident -- you may panic and leave the scene.
No matter what the circumstances, stay put if you've been in an accident. The only exception to this rule is if you feel physically threatened or unsafe. In that situation, call 911 and let the police know that you're moving to an area where you are safe and why.
Drunk Driving Accidents
Were you drinking before you got behind the wheel? If your blood alcohol content was above the legal limit of 0.08, you may face criminal charges, even if you didn't cause the accident! While that may seem unfair, it does happen. It's important to keep this possibility in mind and not to draw attention to the fact that you had a drink or two sometime before the wreck.
Reckless Driving Incidents
Reckless driving definitions vary depending on the laws of your state. However, one example of what might be considered reckless driving is flying down a highway at 100 miles per hour when the posted speed limit is only 55. Maybe the highway seemed virtually empty, and you were just dying to test your sports car's engine, but if an accident happened, you might face charges, no matter who actually caused the wreck.
No License Situations
Were you in an accident while you were driving without a valid driver's license? Whether your license was suspended or revoked -- or you simply never bothered to obtain one -- you could face charges, even if you were clearly the victim of another driver's negligence.
If you were charged with a crime in connection with an accident in which you were injured, that doesn't mean it's impossible to recover fair compensation if you were the victim of someone else's negligence. It does, however, present unique challenges. Make sure that you talk to an auto accident attorney about the situation as soon as possible so you can plan your strategy accordingly.
For more information, contact a lawyer like Carl L. Britt, Jr.