Determining if car accidents are criminal or civil cases depends on the circumstances surrounding each crash. Generally, car accidents are considered civil cases. However, it may not always be the case. There may be elements involved in car crashes that might turn them into criminal cases. Our Philadelphia car accident lawyers discuss vital aspects that determine whether a car accident is a civil or criminal case. If you wish to talk about your car accident in a free, confidential legal consultation, call our law offices today at (215) 246-9000.
When is a Car Accident a Civil Case?
A car accident is a civil case whenever a car accident injury victim seeks compensation in a lawsuit. Most car crash cases are resolved through an insurance claim or settlement, but many people may decide to file a personal injury claim. The reason behind filing a lawsuit is obtaining a higher compensation for injuries sustained and damage to their property. Our attorneys highly recommend discussing your case to determine whether filing a lawsuit is right for you.
However not every car accident is a civil case. There are instances where actions and outcomes in a crash could turn them into criminal cases. When the at-fault party faces criminal charges for the accident, you may still be able to sue them. Talk to an attorney about filing your civil case in addition to the criminal charges.
When is a Car Accident a Criminal Case?
A car accident might turn into a criminal for various reasons. Some of the instances a car crash might turn criminal include the following scenarios. If the at-fault driver in your case committed any of these crimes, it could help you gain substantial compensation in your civil lawsuit:
DUI car accidents can lead to criminal charges. The state of Pennsylvania has a zero-tolerance policy against drivers who operate a motor vehicle while under the effects of drugs and or alcohol. While DUIs are considered misdemeanors, their consequences can be dire for anyone accused of committing such crime. If you are a first DUI offender and your BAC is 0.08%, then you could face a minimum sentence of six months in probation followed by a $300 fine. Furthermore, penalties could be harsher if you had previous DUI convictions.
On the other hand, if a person crashes and kills another while driving under the influence, he or she can be criminally prosecuted. For instance, if the at-fault party kills or causes serious bodily injury to another person, while under the effects of drugs and or alcohol he or she could face serious criminal charges that include prison time and hefty fines.
Hit and Run
Hit and run car accidents can lead to criminal charges, too. Anyone involved in a car accident must stop at the crash scene. Anyone who flees a car accident scene can face serious charges, especially if there are serious bodily injuries or death involved.
A motorist who abandons a crash scene can face misdemeanor charges even without injury. However, if a person suffers serious injuries, the at-fault party can face third or second-degree felony charges which are extremely serious. Penalties for a third-degree felony means a jail sentence of no less than 90 days and a $1,000 fine. Second-degree felony charges for a hit and run resulting in death carries a minimum sentence of no less than 1 year in prison and a minimum fine of $2,500. Keep in mind sentencing, and penalties can increase depending on the circumstances of each case.
According to 75 Pa. C.S. § 3736, a reckless driver is any person who drives a vehicle with complete disregard for human safety and or property. Any individual who jeopardizes other motorists’ safety on the road by making poor decisions could face reckless driving charges for any caused accident. Examples of reckless driving may include speeding, tail-gaiting, distracted driving, and texting while driving. Penalties for reckless driving in Pennsylvania can range from $200 fines and license suspension to $1000 fines and jail time.
What to Do After a Car Accident?
The very first thing you need to take care of is your safety. After you find a safe place, you should call the police and report the accident. Additionally, you should never try to negotiate your case with an insurance company before consulting with a car accident attorney first. If the at-fault party was reckless and caused your injuries, you might be entitled to receive compensation regardless of whether the police charge them with a crime.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Our Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers
Car accidents can happen at any moment for numerous reasons. While some car accidents can result in minor injuries and damage to property, others can be more severe. If you or someone you loved was injured in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, you need immediate legal assistance. Our knowledgeable Philadelphia personal injury attorneys at The Reiff Law Firm can help you fight against those who caused your injuries. Schedule your free, confidential consultation by calling our law offices today at (215) 246-9000.