Almost all car accidents are traumatic for those involved. If you live in a northern state like Michigan, you probably have experienced a car accident due to snow and ice in the winter.
High speeds and sudden shifts in temperature can bring disastrous results even if no one is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
If you are involved in one of these types of accidents, your life can change suddenly and dramatically. Your life will be altered especially if you are technically “at fault” for the crash. This is regardless even if circumstances were beyond your control.
However, what if the accident caused someone else’s death? And what if you were at fault?
Two Types of Fatal Car Accidents
When a person dies as a result of a car accident, it happens in one of two ways. The person dies suddenly as a result of a traumatic crash usually involving high speeds or large vehicles. An impact is enough to cause great enough injuries to kill a person immediately. This type of car accident is called a sudden death car accident incident.
Often when people are involved in a car accident, they sustain great bodily injury but don’t immediately die. If they do die, it is technically a result of something else.
Because of the accident, however, there weren’t any means to stop death. In these cases, the car accident is still ruled as the cause of death. It is called an eventual death fatal accident involving vehicles.
Responsibility for a Fatal Car Accident
In the case of a fatal car accident where the death is ruled the result of the crash, there is usually someone held responsible or liable for the collision legally.
This ruling means that even if you were at fault through events beyond your control, you could still face criminal or civil charges for the car accident. The family of the victim or the state may try to prove that your direct or indirect actions where what caused the crash.
In the event of a fatal car wreck, a police officer or officers will take the statements of many witnesses. They will try to determine what happened and if anyone was at fault.
If your driving caused the accident, the police will want to investigate. They will want to learn if the accident happened due to circumstances truly beyond your control or if there were other factors involved including:
- The presence of any illegal substance
- High speeds
- Your activity in traffic
- Your driving history
- Weather conditions
- The actions of other drivers around you.
If the family of the victim wants to hold you liable for the wrongful death, all of these factors will be considered. However, those charges would be completely separate from any criminal proceedings against you.
Criminal and Civil Proceedings
If it’s determined that you were the responsible driver, there are some charges you could face.
Vehicular manslaughter is causing the death of a human being due to illegal driving of an automobile, including reckless driving or speeding. It can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on circumstances.
Involuntary manslaughter is the unintentional killing of another person resulting from recklessness, criminal negligence or in the commission of a misdemeanor or low-level felony.
If it can be proved that your actions resulting in the fatal car accident were in reckless disregard for human life, you may be facing a murder charge.
In Conclusion: What Should You do?
If you are the reason for a fatal car accident, it’s imperative that you call an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. Regardless of whether you’re criminally responsible or not, you may face a civil lawsuit or criminal charges. You need someone on your side.