Cars

When Criminal and Civil Laws Apply: What to Do After a Car Accident – 2021 Guide

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Written by Quentin Hack

Auto accidents could lead to a civil lawsuit and a criminal case according to the circumstances of the accident. Criminal infractions that cause an auto accident could open the door to litigation. No-fault state laws require auto accident victims to qualifying according to certain prerequisites. This includes sustaining serious injuries, or the driver must commit a crime. The traffic laws define what they consider a crime that present legally actionable territory for claimants. Reviewing auto accident laws for NY shows the victims what to do after an accident and when they can sue.

The Right to Sue the At-Fault Driver

No-fault auto accident laws in New York reduce the auto accident victim’s right to sue. The no-fault laws prevent lawsuits unless the victim’s medical expenses exceed $50,000. The victim must show comprehensive records and invoices showing that these costs have exceeded the maximum coverage amount for the at-fault driver’s auto liability coverage. The laws require the victims to collect through insurance first. If the victim may sue, they could find accident lawyers in Jacoby & Meyers at jmlawyer.com.

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Accidents Involving Drunk Drivers

The states offer an exception for accidents caused by a drunk driver. Since the at-fault driver committed a crime when they caused the accident, the auto accident victim can sue the driver. The claimant needs to secure evidence that shows the at-fault driver committed a crime. This could present a slippery slope for the victim. If the at-fault driver wasn’t convicted of the DUI, there could be some difficulties proving that the driver committed a crime. However, the criminal charges could give the victim some wiggle room in a civil case. If the driver is convicted, the court could require them to provide restitution to the victim for their financial losses. Restitution in a criminal case will not affect the monetary award in a civil lawsuit.

Collecting Damages Through an Insurance Policy

The at-fault driver must file an insurance claim through their auto liability provider for all victims involved in the accident. The insurance coverage must provide payments for all medical expenses, and the victim must provide at least three estimates for their auto repair costs. The insurer chooses the median costs for the auto repairs. They may communicate with the victim’s doctor to get a complete list of all expenses related to the auto accident injuries.

If the victim has serious injuries, they will need continued care, and the doctor could provide projected costs for these expenses. However, the auto insurance policy will not pay out more than $50,000 for the medical expenses, and it cuts off after $10,000 for auto repair costs. However, if the at-fault driver has additional coverage, the insurance will apply to these expenses and provide more than adequate coverage for the auto accident victim.

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What if the Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?

Drivers must have auto liability coverage according to New York state auto insurance laws. If the driver doesn’t have insurance, the standard fine won’t exceed $1,500. They could incur jail time, a driver’s license suspension, and the court could impound their car. However, when the court finds out that the driver not only didn’t have auto liability coverage, but they also caused an auto accident, this could be more detrimental. The court increases fines, license suspensions, and they may impose a serious jail sentence according to how severe the victim’s injuries are. If an uninsured driver killed an accident victim, they could face more profound criminal charges.

Vehicular Homicide and Manslaughter

An investigation of the accident could lead to criminal charges for the at-fault driver. If they are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the state charges them with a DUI. However, if the victim died as a result of their injuries, the state could charge the at-fault driver with involuntary manslaughter. However, if the driver is charged with aggravated DUI, the charges could be voluntary manslaughter. Aggravated DUI means the driver had a blood-alcohol content reading of at least 0.15% which is almost twice the legal limit.

If the driver had controlled substances in their bloodstream, they could get charged with vehicular homicide. If the controlled substances weren’t prescribed by the driver’s doctor, the penalties could increase dramatically. Any substances such as meth, cocaine, or heroin in the bloodstream leads to drug charges, too. If they have the drug in their possession, the DUI charges are a felon. If the victim is under the age of 13, it could increase the first-degree vehicular homicide. This could lead to life in prison for the offender.

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When There Are Multiple Victims Involved in the Accident

Multiple victims in a car accident maximizes the auto insurance claim. The standard auto liability coverage will not offer more than $50,000, and with multiple victims, the insurance could be limited. The coverage applies according to the cost of the victim’s medical costs and auto repair costs. This requires estimates and invoices from each party, and if the policy won’t cover it, the driver could become a defendant in a lawsuit with multiple litigants. However, the victims must meet the prerequisites for a lawsuit individually.

Wrongful Death Litigation

Wrongful death litigation happens when an auto accident victim dies as a result of their injuries. The family files the lawsuit and presents calculations for all their financial losses. These losses include funeral costs, medical expenses, auto repair cost, and any lost wages. Families cannot use tort-based claims for themselves, and they can access the options if the victim suffered incredibly because of their injuries.

Auto accidents could produce serious injuries and cause astronomical costs for the victims. While New York is a no-fault auto accident state, this doesn’t mean that accident victims cannot file a lawsuit. It means the victims must have serious injuries for which medical treatment exceeds $50,000, or the at-fault driver must break the law when causing the accident. Accident injuries must be explained in comprehensive medical records, and the injuries must be linked to the accident. Reviewing auto accident laws shows the victims when they can file a claim and what exceptions could apply in their case.

About the author

Quentin Hack