Car accidents can happen at anytime. The aftermath can be a simple exchange of insurance and phone numbers, or it can be a life-threatening stay in the hospital with a totaled car.
What happens to both parties after an accident depends on the circumstances that caused the accident. If it was a straightforward fender bender where both parties have insurance and are not injured, it will likely go through insurance and the damage will be repaired.
If more serious circumstances occur, like the other party runs a red light and T-bones your car or a person drag racing runs you off the road, you may be wondering if the circumstances classify as vehicular assault, or worse, aggravated vehicular assault.
What is Vehicular Assault?
According to Tennessee law, a person who commits vehicular assault causes serious bodily injury to another person by operating a motor vehicle recklessly as a result of the person's intoxication. When people choose to drive under the influence, they are putting their lives as well as others at risk.
In the state of Tennessee, if serious bodily injury is caused by an intoxicated driver, it is called assault by a vehicle, and it is a Class D felony bringing a minimum mandatory jail sentence of 48 consecutive hours as well as a suspended license for up to a year, according to Justia U.S. Law. The driver could not only face criminal charges, but civil charges as well.
In some states, driving recklessly (not intoxicated) and causing serious bodily injury is enough to warrant a charge of vehicular assault. An example of this could be two cars drag racing down a two lane road and causing an accident resulting in serious bodily harm or death.
Serious bodily harm can be defined as significant harm such as a broken bone, disfigurement, loss of a limb, or an injury requiring surgery or hospitalization. A minor cut or scrape does not classify where serious internal injuries would.
What is Aggravated Vehicular Assault?
When the person who caused the injury has a prior record of alcohol-related offenses like a DUI, or a prior vehicular assault, the charge could be elevated to aggravated vehicular assault and is more serious than vehicular assault.
More specifically, a person commits aggravated vehicular assault when:
- Commits vehicular assault and has two or more prior convictions for driving under the influence of an intoxicant or commits a violation of the habitual motor vehicle offender law.
- Commits vehicular assault and has one or more prior convictions for vehicular assault, vehicular homicide, or aggravated vehicular homicide.
Justia U.S. Law states that the penalty for aggravated vehicular assault brings a minimum of 45 days in prison and fines between $5,000 and $15,000 as well as license suspension.
What are my Options if I’m Injured by a Person who Commits Aggravated Vehicular Assault?
If you are injured by a reckless drunk driver, be sure to treat your injuries. Then, get an experienced lawyer who knows local laws. A lawyer can tell you if you have grounds for a case and what you can expect to recover to pay for medical bills and lost wages.
Assault by a vehicle is serious, and if you have experienced an injury from an accident involving a drunk driver, you may be entitled to compensation.