Truck accidents often result in civil lawsuits such as personal injury or wrongful death. These lawsuits seek to prove negligent fault on the part of the truck driver, trucking company or truck manufacturer for the injuries caused by the accident. Negligence is generally not a criminal offense because we are all guilty of occasional missteps. However, the law is still clear that if you are guilty of a minor misstep, you still have to pay compensatory charges.
The severity of a truck accidents is ratcheted up several notches when criminal charges are taken into account. Common criminal or potentially criminal charges related to truck accidents may include:
The severity of these charges and whether or not they are criminal will depend on the state in which you live. Different states have different charges for driving without insurance, and "reckless driving" is defined differently everywhere. A DUI is usually a misdemeanor, but possession of drugs may be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the quantity found. Vehicular homicide is always a felony.
Your truck accident lawyer may also serve as a criminal defense lawyer or prosecutor. Your lawyer may also know someone who serves in that capacity. Either way, it will be your lawyer's responsibility to keep tabs on the state of the case and advise you on the preparations to take.
The prosecutor may file certain initial paperwork that will telegraph his intent to bring a criminal suit. The defense lawyer will know and should give his client the opportunity to respond in kind. Criminal trials tend to take place in an entirely separate legal entity from civil cases, and different laws and procedures apply.
The main difference is that a criminal case is more difficult to prosecute. While a civil judge makes a ruling based on which side presents a better case, criminal cases demand that the prosecutor prove guilt beyond a shadow of a doubt. Every criminal defendant is presumed innocent, and no charges will be filed if guilt can't be conclusively shown. If a prosecutor chooses to go the criminal route, it is because she is sure that she can prove the driver's intoxication, recklessness, possession or intent to do harm.
If your truck accident has turned or is about to turn criminal, you should consult with your truck accident attorney about what to do next. It is an entirely different game, and you need to be ready.