Vehicular manslaughter is the charge brought against drivers who unintentionally killed a person. That can include another motorist, a passenger, a pedestrian, or a bike rider. These charges can happen in either a first or second degree. That degree will indicate the level of aggravation during the incident that resulted in death. A second-degree vehicular manslaughter case is a less serious offense. The second-degree version of this charge indicates any event of a death caused by a driver who committed a traffic offense. The first-degree instance will often indicate some degree of intent.
Is Vehicular Homicide A Criminal Charge?
Yes, vehicular homicide is a criminal charge, and that means that you’re likely going to have two separate cases going. As the victim of a crash, you may have lost someone in your wreck recently. It’s difficult to understand what that means for the upcoming months. To understand the charges, there are a few key aspects to prepare yourself for.
First, vehicular homicide is a criminal allegation and will take place in the criminal court system. That means this is completely separate from the claim that you have open with your insurance company. It is also separate from any wrongful death lawsuit you may have open in the civil court system.
Second, the impact of the charge may spread into your other cases. For example, a guilty ruling or plea can clear up some arguments about fault and what was going on at the time of the crash. The guilty plea may force the accused to absorb most or all of the fault for the accident. That can make resolving the claim and a wrongful death case easier to manage.
Finally, criminal charges take a very long time to process. Unlike traffic cases or civil claims that go through courts quickly, a criminal charge requires a full-scale investigative team, the involvement of the police, and many other people. That means that it can easily take years for these cases to close. You may need to work with an Atlanta, Georgia car wreck attorney, as a victim, to understand the time frame’s impact on your other open cases.
Do You Need Multiple Claims?
In a vehicular manslaughter case, the other people in the vehicle, whether they were the driver or passengers, may have also experienced injuries. There was likely a substantial amount of property damage. Then there may even be the case of medical bills for yourself, the other victims, and the deceased. So how do you resolve these? You will probably need to have multiple cases open.
Sometimes, one law office will have offerings to handle your cases for personal injury and wrongful, and others will not. It’s always most important to have the right attorney in place for the right case. So, having a personal injury attorney or a car accident attorney fight your insurance claim while having another for the wrongful death case is common.
Regarding the criminal case, you may not have much say in how that proceeds. However, it can be impactful for you to be present or to communicate with the District Attorney on certain matters. You may also have to cooperate with the investigation as a victim who was present at the scene.
Punitive damages are not common unless there is an instance of vehicular homicide in which the person’s actions clearly had a lifetime impact. Punitive damages are an award to the family of the deceased as a punishment to the offender. Usually, these damages fall into cases of DUI issues or reckless driving.
The insurance companies involved cannot award punitive damages; those much come from a judge. However, if your negotiations don’t go well and the case proceeds to a courtroom, then there is the opportunity for punitive damages. It’s unlikely that the criminal case will result in punitive damages, but it may result in restitution.
The Weinstein Firm Can Provide Insight and Advisement in a Vehicular Manslaughter Case
The Weinstein firm works hard to help victims recover the compensation that they need to recover. Unfortunately, when cases involve vehicular homicide, there may not be a monetary value associated with the losses. As Atlanta car accident lawyers, we focus on resolving the aspects of the claim, including property damage, medical expenses, noneconomic loss such as pain and suffering, as well as punitive damages. These areas are the stepping stone to recovering physically and financially.
Call our office quickly to begin getting a lawyer involved in your case. Bringing an attorney in quickly can help your case start off well-organized and stay that way. Reach out early and schedule a consultation.