After an accident, what happens if the at-fault driver is charged with a crime? In some cases, this may affect your personal injury case, but in ways you may not expect. Your Houston traffic accident lawyer can help you seek compensation after your accident. Criminal charges after a car accident may help your case in some ways, but you’ll still need to file a personal injury claim and work with a personal injury attorney.
Talk to your Houston Traffic Accident Lawyer if the Other Driver Faces Criminal Charges After a Car Accident
Any accident can be frightening, frustrating, and even downright confusing. However, what happens if the other driver gets a traffic citation or, worse, is arrested?
Cases like these can be quite complex. Your Houston traffic accident lawyer can help you navigate the process of filing a claim or a lawsuit. You’ll still need to provide evidence that the other driver caused the accident and also collect evidence of your damages associated with your accident. In many cases you’ll still need to negotiate with the insurance adjuster, just like any other car crash.
Types of Criminal Charges After an Accident
Generally speaking, if the other driver is charged with a crime in connection with your accident, it means the police believe they’ve been grossly negligent of their duty of care on the road. Typically, this doesn’t mean simply forgetting to check a blind spot or following a little too closely. Gross negligence is usually driving behavior that’s way out of line with responsible driving and poses a serious safety hazard.
Some examples of potential gross negligence while driving include:
- Excessive speeds
- Texting while driving
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Illegal passing
- Intentionally violating red lights and stop signs
- Driving under the influence
How do Criminal Charges Against the Other Driver Affect My Case?
So, how does this affect your case? In some cases, criminal charges against the other driver may help your Houston traffic accident lawyer build your case. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s an automatic slam-dunk for your claim, or that you don’t need to do anything further. You’ll still need to file a claim or a civil suit to seek compensation for your damages.
The Difference Between Criminal and Civil Court
The key to remember for an accident claim is that civil court and criminal court are two different things. Civil cases after a car accident are generally seeking compensation from the at-fault driver to the victim to help cover accident-related costs. The point of criminal cases is to serve justice after breaking the law.
In addition, there are different standards of proof that your Houston traffic accident lawyer will need to provide compared to criminal cases. In a criminal trial, the attorney representing the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person is guilty of the crime. By contrast, in a civil suit, like a car accident case, you must convince the jury that it is more likely than not that the other driver is responsible for the accident that caused your injuries.
Also, it’s important to note that committing a crime doesn’t automatically mean that someone caused the accident. While it’s likely, it’s not always the case. For example, someone could be driving drunk through a green light. However, if someone else runs the red light and hits the drunk driver, who’s at fault? Typically, both parties would be partially at fault, though the light runner might be more so.
So, it’s important to work with an experienced Houston auto injury attorney for your car accident claim. They can help gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and argue your case in court if need be.
How Charges May Help Your Houston Traffic Accident Lawyer Build a Case for Compensation
While criminal and civil cases are different and separate, in some cases charges against the other driver may help your car accident case. For example, a guilty conviction or plea for a crime related to your accident can be a piece of evidence to show the other person’s fault for the crash. Your Houston traffic accident lawyer may also be able to use some of the evidence from that case in your personal injury case.
However, if the person pleads no contest, that’s a bit different. A no contest plea means that the person is accepting the punishment and not fighting the case, but isn’t admitting guilt. This may not seem like much of a difference, but it is when it comes to your civil case. You can’t use a no contest plea as evidence of guilt in a civil case.
What if the person is found not guilty? Remember, civil and criminal cases are separate. So, that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get compensation for your car accident damages. Criminal and civil cases may have different results, since the burden of proof is a little different. One of the most known examples of this is the O.J. Simpson case. The jury found O.J. not guilty in the criminal case. In the civil case he was found guilty for wrongful death. Therefore, your personal accident case may have a different outcome than the other driver’s criminal case.
Talk to Your Houston Traffic Accident Lawyer about Filing a Claim if the Other Driver is In Jail
So, what do you do if the other driver has already been tried, found guilty, and sentenced to jail time? In some cases, this may happen, especially if you suffered severe injuries from the accident. In many cases, your Houston auto injury attorney may recommend waiting to settle until you know the full extent of your injuries and recovery, which can sometimes take quite some time.
If this is the case, and the at-fault driver is currently serving a sentence, you can still file a lawsuit against the person. However, this often makes the case much more complex.
Logistically, it can be difficult to serve the person the necessary papers to file a lawsuit. Also, in many cases the person may not have many assets to pay for the damages you seek. Each situation is different, so it’s important to discuss the particulars with your Houston traffic accident lawyer to see what your options are.
What if I’m Accused of a Crime after an Accident?
So, what if you’re the one who faces criminal charges after a car accident? If this is the case, then you’ll likely need the help of a criminal attorney, not a personal injury attorney. Personal injury attorneys focus on civil cases and fighting for their clients’ rights for Houston auto accident compensation. Remember, criminal cases and civil cases are typically a lot different, so it’s usually better to seek the services of a criminal law attorney for a criminal case and a civil law attorney for a civil case.
Choose an Established, Experienced Houston Auto Injury Attorney for Your Case
When you need a Houston traffic accident lawyer, choose our experienced, focus attorneys at DeSimone Law Office. We’ve helped settle thousands of car accident cases, and are so sure of our abilities that we ask for no fees unless we help you recover damages from your accident. Whether you need help with an insurance claim or are considering filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, our team is here to help you. Call us today at (713) 526-0900 for a FREE case evaluation with one of our attorneys.