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Where is the line between carelessness and lawlessness? This is something that car accident survivors often wonder. If you or a loved one was hurt in a car accident, you may be surprised when you hear that the driver who caused it was not charged with a crime.
Drivers who cause car accidents, even those that result in injuries, may walk away without any criminal charges, perhaps not even a traffic ticket. This is because it can be difficult for police to prove wrongdoing after the fact. You may be certain that the person who hit you was going too fast, but law enforcement may not be able to prove that.
Some situations are easier for police than others. For example, police may be able to do a breath or blood test to show that the driver who caused the car crash was drunk, and then the driver may be charged with DUI. However, if the driver who caused the crash was texting and driving, that might be a bit more challenging for police to prove, although looking at cellphone records may be an option.
When is a car wreck an assault? In Illinois, a person can be charge with aggravated assault for using a motor vehicle to hurt someone. But just because a driver hurt someone with a car does not mean that it was an assault. Vehicular assault charges are most likely in road rage cases where someone was trying to be threatening or harmful. Drivers who cause fatal car accidents may face charges of reckless homicide or vehicular homicide. This will not always be the case in fatal accidents, as there are requirements for proving recklessness here.
Keep in mind that in criminal cases, law enforcement must show that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In civil court, however, where car accident lawsuits are handled, there is a different standard. In civil court, the requirement is a preponderance of the evidence. That is why so many people hurt in accidents seek justice this way. While the careless driver cannot be forced to face criminal penalties, the victim can pursue compensation for the harm they suffered at that driver’s hands.
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