What to do if I was recently involved in a traumatic car accident due to a drunk driver but am being charged?

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What to do if I was recently involved in a traumatic car accident due to a drunk driver but am being charged?

I had my 2 girls, ages 1 and 6, in the car with me. They were both ejected from the vehicle and were not restrained at that moment. Now I am being charged with 2 counts of chid abuse and 2 counts domestic violence. I want to know what I should do? I am not a bad mother; I just made 1 mistake.

Asked on August 5, 2013 under Criminal Law, Arizona

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You need to be represented by a criminal defense attorney on the charges of child abuse and domestic violence.  Your County Bar Association can refer you to a criminal defense attorney.  If you cannot afford an attorney, you can be represented by the public defender.

Separate and apart from the criminal case, you have a civil case (personal injury case) against the drunk driver for the injuries to your children.  If the drunk driver had insurance, the personal injury claims are filed with the drunk driver's insurance carrier.  If the drunk driver did not have insurance and you had uninsured motorist coverage on your auto insurance policy, you can file the personal injury claims with your auto insurance company.

When your children complete their medical treatment and are released by the doctor or are declared by the doctor to be permanent and stationary which means having reached a point in their medical treatment where no further improvement is anticipated, obtain their medical bills and medical reports.  Each child has a separate personal injury claim which should include the medical bills and medical reports and should be filed with the insurance carrier.  Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of the injuries and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering which is an amount in addition to the medical bills.  If the personal injury claims are settled with the insurance carrier, NO lawsuit is filed.  If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the insurance carrier, reject the settlement offers and file a lawsuit for negligence against the drunk driver on behalf of your children.  You will need to be appointed guardian ad litem to file a lawsuit on behalf of your children since they are minors.  If the case is settled for one child but not both, only name the child with whom the case has not settled in the lawsuit for negligence against the drunk driver.  If the case has not settled with either child, name both in the lawsuit against the drunk driver.

If the case is NOT settled, the lawsuit on behalf of your children for negligence against the drunk driver must be filed prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or your children will lose their rights forever in the matter.


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