Pedestrians and Car Accidents: Criminal vs. Civil Consequences

Car accidents often happen, but there are times when they result in death and property destruction. When car drivers encounter accidents, the automatic response would be to contact a car accident lawyer. However, accidents happen for different reasons, which is why drivers must know the civil and criminal consequences of accidents involving their cars and pedestrians on the road.

Most of the time, the driver is usually at fault. If this is the case, car drivers need to face the legal consequences of the accidents that they have caused. However, the civil and criminal consequences of car accidents depend on the specifics of the crash. Below are the different possibilities for the criminal and civil consequences of car accidents.

Involuntary or Vehicular Manslaughter

Car-versus-pedestrian accidents cause at least 11 percent of all traffic accidents that lead to pedestrian deaths. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, any pedestrian who dies under particular circumstances because of a traffic accident wherein the driver is at fault guarantees that the driver will face criminal charges.

Drivers can be charged with a criminal charge of vehicular or involuntary manslaughter if drivers are found to have been operating the vehicle in an extremely reckless manner. This means that if a driver goes beyond the speed limit, over speeds in a school zone, or drives while intoxicated, the driver will face legal consequences.

The key determinant for a charge of involuntary or vehicular manslaughter is the fact that a driver has ignored all regard for the substantial risks that a driver’s behavior might cause on the road and while driving. Drivers can only be charged with vehicular or involuntary manslaughter if the driver’s conduct exceeds the specifications for ordinary negligence.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of Drugs or Alcohol or Both

A DUI arrest and condition is expected if a driver causes an accident while he or she is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or both. Drivers who are convicted of a DUI charge are more likely to face severe sentences handed down by the court.

Drivers arrested on DUI charges can expect more jail time, harsher penalties, and higher fines. This is because striking a pedestrian and causing substantial injuries is a kind of aggravating circumstance wherein the pedestrian is not at fault for the accident that occurred. Therefore, drivers who have been arrested for DUI charges can expect a harsher punishment for their irresponsible and negligent behaviors.

Hit and Run

police on the road

Drivers who accidentally hit a pedestrian and then follow the proper post-accident protocol will face lesser consequences than drivers who flee the scene of an accident. For drivers who follow the proper post-accident protocol, the most severe consequence they might face include a higher car insurance premium and a lawsuit for personal injury.

On the other hand, drivers who flee the crime scene will most likely face criminal charges. There is even a possibility that a felony arrest for the hit-and-run case will occur along with a potential prison sentence. Therefore, it is better for drivers who have hit a pedestrian to take responsibility for their actions and face the law instead of trying to evade it and end up facing extremely severe consequences.

Insurance Claim

One of the most common civil penalties associated with car accidents is an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit. A pedestrian may file a personal injury lawsuit if involved in a car accident. The purpose of this lawsuit is to allow the pedestrian to recover the damages caused by the accident. It could also be interpreted as compensation for the losses caused by the accident. However, this can only happen when the driver has been proven to be at fault for the accident.

Wrongful Death

Another civil penalty is the wrongful death lawsuit. This lawsuit allows the surviving family of the victim of a car accident to bring a civil lawsuit against the people responsible for causing the death. Drivers who are found guilty of killing a pedestrian can expect a wrongful death lawsuit. The wrongful death lawsuit will seek to establish the driver’s negligence, which has led to the accident and the death of a pedestrian.

A driver facing this kind of lawsuit will have to pay compensation to the deceased person’s family. This includes the support that the deceased person provides, funeral expenses, lost companionship, and other similar types of harm.

Drivers must always be alert to prevent accidents that lead to the death of pedestrians. However, if an accident does occur, drivers must take responsibility for their actions. This means that drivers need to face civil or criminal consequences.

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