It is a known fact that vehicular accidents occur every day, and it is common for drivers to file claims with their insurance and sometimes civil claims in court. However, in some particularly egregious cases, criminal charges are brought by the state. Criminal vehicular charges may be brought in situations where a car accident results in the death of another person, particularly in situations where one driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or driving recklessly. Depending on the state, there are different laws that govern when someone may be criminally charged.
According to a recent news report, a 40-year-old Virginia man was charged with criminal vehicular homicide in St. Louis County, Minnesota. Authorities found that the driver’s blood alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit. The 40-year-old driver is accused of crossing the center line and hitting another vehicle head-on. Due to the crash, officers found the other vehicle in a ditch, and unfortunately, the crash resulted in the death of the other driver. Officers reported that the 40-year-old driver had a limp and watery eyes, as well as slurred speech, in addition to smelling like alcohol. His blood alcohol content was .247, which is more than three times the legal limit of .08.
What’s the Difference Between a Civil Personal Injury Lawsuit and a Criminal Charge?
If you have lost a loved one in a car accident, and the other driver is facing vehicular manslaughter charges, you may be wondering what avenues you may be able to take to recover damages for your loss. First, it is important to understand that a criminal charge is separate from any civil claims that you personally may want to make. In the state of Virginia, a person can be criminally convicted of involuntary manslaughter, which can also be referred to as vehicular homicide if they cause the death of another person while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in violation of Virginia’s DUI laws. Aggravated involuntary manslaughter, another type of criminal charge, would have the additional requirement that the driver’s conduct was “so gross, wanton and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life.” If charged with vehicular manslaughter in Virginia, you could face up to 10 years in prison and up to $2,500 in fines. If charged with aggravated vehicular manslaughter, you could face up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $2,500.
However, a personal injury lawsuit such as a wrongful death claim would require the claim to be brought by a loved one of the deceased, and these types of claims are brought to allow surviving family members to seek compensation for the damages suffered as a result of the accident.
Driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol is dangerous and can result in fatalities, in addition to the possibility of incarceration and hefty fines. If you have lost a loved one due to another driver’s suspected intoxication, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer today to discuss your case.
Do You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer After a Car Accident in Virginia?
If you or someone you love has been injured or has died as a result of a car accident in Virginia, contact the Schupak Law Firm today. Our attorneys have years of experience in helping accident victims navigate the difficulties that arise after a car accident, and are ready to step in to provide you with assistance. In addition to car accident claims, the Schupak Law Firm handles Virginia claims involving medical malpractice, slips and falls, nursing home and elder abuse, premises liability, and wrongful death. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact us at 703-491-7070.