Car Accidents and Criminal Charges

In 2011, there were 72,117 car accidents in Minnesota, resulting in 30,295 injuries and 368 fatalities. Most of these accidents resulted from driver inattention/distraction, failure to yield right-of-way, and illegal or unsafe speed. The consequences for the parties involved can be overwhelming. Medical treatment expenses, an increase in insurance premiums, and the stress of car repair are just a few possible results of an accident. In addition to consulting an attorney to obtain a settlement for an injury, one should also consider the criminal consequences of car crashes, such as the following:

Hit and Run: If you’re involved in an accident with a pedestrian or another vehicle (occupied or parked), it’s the law to stop at the scene and provide your name and insurance information. If you are involved in an accident and leave the scene, you can be charged with a hit and run.

Vehicular Manslaughter: If you hit and kill a pedestrian, a passenger in your vehicle, or a passenger in another vehicle, you may be charged with criminal vehicular manslaughter. This happens most often when the driver was under the influence at the time, but you could also be charged if you were driving recklessly—this may mean excessive speeding or texting while driving.

DWI/DUI: Even if you are involved in an accident when you are not at fault, you can be charged with a DWI/DUI if you are found to be intoxicated at the time of the accident. If anyone was injured in the accident, the police have the right to test you for alcohol without your consent.

Reckless/Careless Driving: This type of driving is a criminal offense. A good example of reckless driving is speeding in a school zone or is weaving in and out of traffic. Sometimes, when a driver causes an accident by acting in a way that puts lives and property at risk, they can be charged with careless driving.

If you’re involved in a car accident where someone has been hurt and/or criminal charges have been filed, it is very important to consult with an attorney before speaking with the police, insurance adjusters, etc. The criminal consequences of a car accident could change your life. Give us a call before that happens.

Attorney Andrew W.R. Nielsen