Most people often feel shaken up after a car accident, especially if they're responsible for causing it. In the majority of cases, the civil justice system will address the case and provide remedies, which means that the at-fault party may not go to jail.
However, there are certain circumstances when the at-fault party might have to face the criminal justice system. It all depends on how the crash happened and whether or not the negligent driver fled the accident scene.
Regardless of whether the at-fault party faces criminal charges, injured victims in Texas may be able to pursue compensatory damages.
Those injured in Houston, Texas, in a car accident due to another's negligence should reach out to Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys to discuss their case and learn more about their rights. They also have insight to questions such as What happens if my DUI resulted in a car accident?
Can You Go to Jail for a Car Accident in Texas?
When a car accident happens, the act of colliding with another vehicle does not create grounds for criminal charges. The parties involved must exchange information, including insurance details and contact numbers, to start the legal process.
A personal injury claim is a remedy available under the law in Texas to the affected parties to recover compensation for the losses incurred in a car accident.
The negligent party's insurance company will have to cover the costs of the traumatic event after the claimant successfully defends their claim with supporting evidence.
In most cases, the insurance company will reduce or deny car accident claims. This can lead to a delay in the payment, which the affected party may need to cover their medical expenses. It's essential for the injured victim to reach out to an experienced car accident attorney to handle the case or pursue a lawsuit.
The legal team at Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys consists of skilled auto accident lawyers who have experience in representing insurance companies. They know the insider secrets and can avoid the hurdles insurers create, helping expedite the case and improving the victim's chances of recovering compensation.
What Are the Legal Consequences of a Car Crash in Houston, Texas?
When a negligent driver crashes their vehicle into another car and causes injuries to the other driver or passengers, they may be liable for the damages caused.
If they have an insurance policy, their insurer must cover the economic and non-economic losses up to the policy's limits.
Besides compensating the injured victim for the damages, the negligent party may also face citations for any traffic violations leading up to the crash.
The at-fault driver may have to pay a ticket if they ran a red light or were going over the legal speed limit in Texas prior to the car accident.
When Does a Car Crash Turn into a Criminal Case?
When a driver commits a misdemeanor or felony offense, a simple civil liability case could lead to criminal charges. A car accident in Texas could turn into a criminal case if it contains any one of the following elements:
Driving with a suspended driver's license
Vehicular manslaughter (An accident involving death)
Reckless driving leading to a fatal car accident
Driving under the influence of alcohol
Driving while intoxicated
Drunk Driving Criminal Charges
If a law enforcement officer stops a drunk driver, they may request to conduct a breathalyzer or a field sobriety test.
Under Texas law, it is illegal to drive a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.08. In such situations, the officer may arrest the negligent driver and press criminal charges.
The consequences of DUI in Texas depend on the circumstances of the case and the driver's criminal record. It may include a jail sentence, fines, or a combination of both. The penalties can be severe if DUIs lead to fatal car accidents.
Hit-and-run Accident in Texas
A prosecutor may pursue criminal charges against a driver who leaves the scene of an accident without assisting the injured victim.
The penalties for such actions could be severe, especially if the victim dies from their injuries. This may result in a hit-and-run conviction, for which the criminal charges may range from a Class C misdemeanor offense to a first-degree felony.
Under Texas law, the penalties for leaving the scene of an accident could vary depending on the criminal charges.
A misdemeanor hit and run involving property damage could lead to a maximum fine of $500. On the other hand, a hit and run involving a fatal car accident (first-degree felony) may result in a life imprisonment sentence and up to $10,000 in fines.
Vehicular Manslaughter and the Criminal Charges
A person can also face criminal charges even if they don't leave the accident scene. The Texas Penal Code § 19.04 states that a driver may face vehicular manslaughter if their criminal negligence or reckless behavior causes a fatal car crash.
Vehicular manslaughter in Texas is a second-degree felony. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the fatal car crash, the penalties can range from two years to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of up to $10,000.
A criminal defense lawyer can explain the penalties better and guide the defendant on their legal options.
Can Driving Without Insurance Lead to Criminal Charges in Texas?
In the Lone Star state, simple negligence often results in a civil case. Driving without insurance in Texas does not result in a jail sentence unless it causes a serious bodily injury or a fatal car accident.
The uninsured driver may have to pay fines, which may vary depending on the number of convictions. It could lead to a maximum of $350 in fines for the first traffic stop, with the second subsequent conviction having greater penalties (up to $1,000 in fines and the vehicle impounded).
Under Texas law, the penalties for driving without insurance for repeated offenses may be steeper. It could also result in license suspension, the need to maintain an SR-22, and a reinstatement fee.
It's important to note that driving without insurance could lead to severe penalties if it involves a fatal auto accident or serious bodily injury.
What Should the Defendant Do after Their Fatal Car Accident?
Even if the defendant causes a fatal car accident, law enforcement officers must follow the proper procedures. Failure to adhere to the protocols can lead to the violation of the driver's constitutional rights.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can help protect the rights of those accused of a crime by assessing the circumstances surrounding the arrest. They have the knowledge and expertise to have the criminal charges reduced or dismissed.
Can a Car Accident Law Firm Help the Injured Victims in Houston, Texas?
When an injured victim pursues legal action against the negligent party's insurance company, they often face challenges and obstacles along the way. This can affect their settlement amount or lead to their claims being denied.
The reputable personal injury lawyers at Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys have extensive experience dealing with insurance companies. They can build a strong claim and handle the insurer to ensure maximum compensation for the affected party. They can also help questions like Does the at fault driver pay for rental car in Texas?
Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Can Help Improve the Victim's Chances of a Financial Recovery
Whether the negligent party faces a third-degree felony or misdemeanor charges, injured victims may be eligible for compensation.
Those injured in Houston, Texas, due to someone else's negligence should call to schedule a free consultation with Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys. They can assess the case and protect the victim's rights by negotiating a fair settlement.