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When Does a Car Accident Become a Crime?

By Butler Prather LLP on May 12, 2021

Vehicle accidents are not uncommon in Georgia. However, no two vehicle accidents are exactly alike, and there are times when the circumstances surrounding a vehicle accident lead to the situation becoming a crime. Here, we want to discuss exactly what it means for a vehicle accident to be a “crime” as opposed to just a situation where the incident will be handled only through insurance carriers or a civil lawsuit.

Most Car Accidents Are Civil Matters

The reality is that most vehicle accidents in Georgia are resolved through settlements with insurance carriers. However, there are times when insurance carriers refuse to offer fair settlements or when they deny a claim altogether. When this occurs, it may be necessary for an accident victim to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. This will move the case officially into the civil court system. Please note that this does not have anything to do with criminal violations.

What Types of Vehicle Accidents Become Crimes?

There are certainly times when vehicle accidents can lead to criminal cases as well as civil cases. In the state of Georgia, the criminal court system is designed to hold people accountable for breaking laws. There are several types of traffic violations that could lead to criminal offenses, thus making a Georgia car accident a criminal matter. This can include vehicle accidents that involve the following types of incidents:

  • Aggressive driving
  • Operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol drugs (DUI)
  • Operating too fast for conditions
  • Road rage incidents
  • Hit and run incidents
  • Racing on highways or streets
  • Operating on a suspended court revoked license
  • Operating a vehicle without insurance
  • Overtaking a school bus that is stopped to allow children to board or unload

This is not an all-inclusive list of the criminal traffic violations that can occur in the state of Georgia. Law enforcement officials who respond to the scene of an accident will be the ones who decide whether or not to charge an individual with a crime as a result of the incident. Any criminal case against an at-fault driver will be separate from the civil case filed by the injured party.

If you have been injured in a vehicle accident caused by the careless or negligent actions of another individual, you need to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Regardless of whether or not law enforcement officials decide to charge the other driver with a criminal offense, you need to have someone by your side who is able to investigate every aspect of the incident and help you recover maximum compensation. Any ongoing criminal case will play a role in the civil case as well because the criminal investigation will likely contain information that is needed to determine liability for the incident in the civil case.

What Type of Compensation Will Injury Victims Receive?

There may be various types of compensation available to victims of vehicle accidents in Georgia. Regardless of whether or not the accident was caused by a criminal action, it is not uncommon for victims to recover the following types of compensation:

  • Full coverage of their medical expenses
  • Lost income if they cannot work
  • Property damage expenses
  • Pain and suffering damages
  • Loss of enjoyment of life damages
  • Possible punitive damages against a grossly negligent driver

The total amount of compensation available in these situations will vary depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding each particular situation. A skilled attorney will conduct a complete investigation into the incident, work with trusted medical and economic experts to help calculate total losses, and negotiate with all parties involved to reach a fair settlement for their client.

Posted in: Car Accidents

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