In an auto accident? Here is what you need to do.

A car accident can be stressful, scary, and anxiety-provoking. Good, law-abiding people can make mistakes under stress and in a chaotic situation.

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If you are in an auto accident, you must follow the law or risk being charged with a crime.

“What should I do if I’m in a car accident?” If you get into an accident, here are the top 10 things you need to do right away. If you get a ticket, are charged with any criminal offense, or are injured, you will need a great lawyer to get you the best possible results. Here are the steps you need to take immediately:

  • Get Help if Someone is Hurt – Call 911. If you, someone in your car, or the occupant of another vehicle is injured, there is no justification for failing to call for emergency medical help. Failing to seek medical care can result in criminal charges and increased civil damages and may unnecessarily exacerbate someone’s medical situation.
  • Notify the Police – In Michigan, you must notify law enforcement before leaving the scene if anyone is injured or there is any significant property damage. It is not sufficient to just exchange names, phone numbers, and insurance information with the other driver and then leave the scene. Leaving the scene of such an accident will likely result in criminal charges and a presumption that you were at fault.
  • Get Crucial Identification Information – Get the other driver’s contact information. Write down their name, address, car description, and phone numbers. If they refuse to give you the information, don’t try to force them or threaten them to get the information. Do not be confrontational. A responding police officer will help you get all this information.
  • Identify Potential Witnesses – Get the names and contact information of anyone who saw the accident. If you can, do this quickly. People who saw the collision often stop for a short time but leave before the police arrive. Other motorists, passengers, or pedestrians can be critical witnesses. Do not volunteer the names and addresses of the witnesses until after you see if you are being accused of causing the accident. You have no obligation to provide information against yourself. If you are not at fault and there is some doubt with the officer, the witnesses may play a critical role in your exoneration.
  • Do Not Discuss or Admit Fault – If you are in a car accident, you should not blame the other driver or confront them even if they were clearly at fault. It may just start an argument. But, if the other driver admits it was their fault, make a mental note of it. When the officer arrives, you can relay the information at that time. Even if you feel you may have been partially at fault, do not say anything or make any admissions. This does not mean that you should lie; just do not make an admission. “Fault” is often a complex determination based on facts and complicated laws. High emotions and feelings of guilt may cloud your judgment, and a little time may help you get a better feel for the events.
  • Take Pictures if You Can – If you can, and it is safe, take pictures of the vehicles before they are moved. Pictures of the damage and position of the vehicles can be essential. After you get emergency care and are home, remember to take pictures of your injuries – any cuts, bruises, bandages, and any casts or crutches. It is particularly important to take a picture of any seat belt bruise on the front of your shoulders and chest.

Steps to Take Soon After a Car Accident

The following steps need not be taken immediately after an accident; however, time is of the essence. The sooner you protect yourself, the better positioned you will be if you are investigated by law enforcement or have an injury.

  • Write a Note to Yourself Afterward – After the accident, write a note to yourself (and possibly for your attorney if you later need one). Include all the information you have gathered and can remember while it is fresh in your mind. Explain how the accident happened as best as you can. Drawing a sketch or diagram of the collision will be a helpful memory aid later. It may be months or even years before the insurance companies fully resolve any claims. A rule of evidence in Michigan may allow for the introduction of your memory if it is recorded immediately after the incident.
  • Call Your Insurance Agent – All insurance policies require you to notify your insurance company. This must be done shortly after the accident. An unnecessary delay in telling your insurance company about the crash can result in a denial of your claim. If you are worried about being at fault or the possibility that you may have any criminal culpability, it would be a good idea to consult with an attorney before you make this call.
  • Fight Any Ticket or Criminal Charge – If you are ticketed or charged with any criminal offense (felony, misdemeanor, ordinance violation, or even a traffic misdemeanor), do not plead guilty or responsible without working with an experienced Michigan criminal defense attorney. Even though you may feel guilty or responsible for a charge, an effective, skilled attorney will likely be able to get the prosecutor to reduce or dismiss a charge or find another way to mitigate your damages.
  • Find and Hire a Trusted, Experienced Defense Lawyer – There is no rational reason to agree to have a charge or conviction placed on your record if there is a legitimate way to avoid it by working with a passionate, zealous, and tenacious criminal attorney or traffic lawyer.

Under Investigation for an Auto Accident

Hiring a criminal defense attorney on a precharge basis if you’re under investigation for a crime related to a car accident is a proactive step that can significantly influence the outcome of your case. When legal representation is secured early, your attorney can begin crafting a defense strategy before charges are even filed, potentially mitigating the severity of the situation or preventing charges altogether. During the investigation phase, a skilled lawyer can advocate with law enforcement and prosecutors on your behalf, ensuring that your rights are protected and that you do not inadvertently say or do something that could be used against you. Furthermore, an experienced attorney can gather and preserve critical evidence, identify and interview witnesses, and consult with experts to reconstruct the accident or challenge the prosecution’s narrative.

Early precharge intervention and representation can be crucial in shaping the narrative of the case, influencing the prosecution’s charging decision, and setting the stage for a more favorable resolution. In the complex and often daunting arena of criminal investigations related to car accidents, having a knowledgeable advocate by your side from the outset can provide legal protection and peace of mind during a stressful time.

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What should I do if I’m hurt or injured in a car accident?

If you find yourself hurt or injured in a car accident, it’s crucial to take steps to protect your rights and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries and damages. While our firm specializes in criminal defense, we understand the importance of expert legal representation in personal injury cases. That’s why we associate with and are familiar with Michigan’s top personal injury lawyers. We recognize the significance of having a skilled attorney who can navigate the complexities of personal injury law on your behalf. If you’re facing this situation, we can refer you to a trusted legal professional who will diligently work to protect your rights and strive to secure the maximum award for your injuries and damages. Our network includes seasoned personal injury lawyers known for their commitment to their clients and their proven track record of success. With the right legal support, you can focus on your recovery while your attorney handles the legal intricacies to ensure you are justly compensated.

Traffic Accident Felony and Misdemeanors in Michigan

In Michigan, car accidents can lead to various criminal charges, depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident. These charges can range from misdemeanors, which are less severe, to felonies, which are more serious and carry heavier penalties. Here are some common felony and misdemeanor crimes in Michigan that often involve a car accident:

  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI) / Operating While Intoxicated (OWI): This is one of the most common charges related to car accidents. If a driver is found to be operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs and is involved in an accident, they can be charged with a DUI/OWI, which is typically a misdemeanor for first and sometimes second offenses.
  • Reckless Driving: This charge applies to drivers who operate their vehicles recklessly, demonstrating a disregard for the safety of persons or property. If a reckless driving incident results in an accident without injuries, the driver may face misdemeanor charges punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a 90-day hard driver’s license suspension.
  • Driving Without a Valid License: If an individual is involved in a car accident and is found to be driving without a valid driver’s license, they can be charged with a misdemeanor.
  • OWI Causing Serious Injury or Death: If a driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs causes an accident that results in serious injury or death to another person, the charges can be elevated to a felony. These are serious charges that carry severe penalties, which will almost certainly include substantial prison time unless you have outstanding criminal defense representation.
  • Reckless Driving Causing Serious Impairment or Death: Similar to OWI causing serious injury or death, if reckless driving results in serious impairment of a body function or death of another person, the driver can face felony charges.
  • Leaving the Scene of an Accident (Hit and Run): If a driver is involved in an accident and leaves the scene without providing their information or rendering aid when it’s required, especially if the accident results in serious injury or death, they can be charged with a felony.
  • Vehicular Manslaughter: This charge applies when negligent driving results in the death of another person. Depending on the specifics of the case, such as recklessness or intoxication, this can be charged as a felony.
  • Civil Infraction Causing Death or Serious Bodily Injury: Michigan recently criminalized civil infractions when resulting in a death or serious bodily injury. An infraction causing a severe injury can result in up to 93 days in jail. An accident resulting in death is punishable by up to one year in jail.

These charges underscore the profound legal implications that can arise from car accidents in Michigan. The severity of the charges typically depends on the circumstances of the accident, including the driver’s actions leading up to and following the incident and the impact on other parties involved.

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney

If you need assistance with a criminal charge or traffic ticket or are injured in an accident, and you would like a free consultation with an experienced attorney in Michigan, do not hesitate to contact LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. We will find a way to help you. Similarly, if you are wondering, “What should I do if I’m in a car accident?” we will take the time to talk with you, answer all of your questions, and address each of your concerns.

Beware of those police, judges, and prosecutors in Oakland County, Wayne County, Macomb County, Livingston County, and Washtenaw County are particularly tough on these cases. When other lawyers may be afraid to stand up and fight for you, we are not afraid to win!

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.

We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

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