Mecklenburg County DUI cases are usually criminal matters, but if there was an accident, accused drivers can find themselves involved in civil claims as well. If the crash caused injuries or property damage, the alleged victims or their insurance companies may file a personal injury lawsuit.
If you were involved in an accident and accused of being intoxicated, you could benefit from the services of an experienced criminal attorney. Aspects of your criminal case can have an impact on later civil claims, so it can be helpful to retain a Mecklenburg County lawyer as soon as possible. A knowledgeable attorney could help protect your interests.
When law enforcement arrives on the scene of a crash, certain observations might lead them to begin a DUI investigation. For instance, they may investigate for DUI if they observe an individual present at the scene who appears intoxicated or impaired or who makes statements that they were driving and then show signs of impairment, including being unsteady on their feet, having glassy eyes, or having an odor of alcohol.
Depending on the circumstances, officers might use a breath test to determine intoxication. If the person is unable to perform a breath test due to injuries, the officers might obtain a search warrant and require a blood test to be done at the hospital while the injured individual is receiving medical treatment.
Statements made to law enforcement personnel can generally be used against an individual in court. When an accused individual is injured in an accident, however, some of their statements to medical providers may be protected. Depending on the nature of those statements, they might not be allowed to be introduced into court. For instance, if the individual made those statements for the purpose of medical diagnosis and treatment, as opposed to statements to law enforcement officers for investigation purposes, they may not be admissible in court.
Various aspects of a Mecklenburg County DUI criminal case could play a role in later civil claims. The criminal case will usually be prosecuted first due to the nature of criminal law being able to process matters more quickly than civil law. Importantly, any statements made by an individual on the scene can be used against them both in the criminal case and the civil case, and an individual’s plea at a criminal case can also be used in a civil case.
If they plead guilty, they have made an admission to their conduct that could be used against them in a civil case. If they plead no contest, they might be found guilty, but it is not an admission of guilt that could be used in a civil case. Furthermore, if the case goes to trial and the individual pleads not guilty, evidence that is submitted at trial in a public court could be used against the accused in a civil case later. That testimony could be recorded, and everything that is presented against the accused and said by the accused in that trial could affect the civil case.
When an attorney expects a civil claim to be filed against a person, they could have an in-depth conversation regarding both short-term and long-term possible outcomes and goals. The attorney could help set priorities related to the person’s liberty and criminal record. They could also analyze the accused’s financial assets and insurance availability in regards to protecting against the civil claim.
If you are concerned that your DUI accident in Mecklenburg County may lead to civil claims, contact a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The statements you make to law enforcement personnel could affect your civil case, but an attorney could stand by your side during any questioning. Call today to schedule a consultation.