Criminal defense cases cover both criminal suits — charges brought by the government to punish an individual for an act classified as a crime — and civil suits — claims brought by individuals or organizations as a dispute over rights and duties.
The terms “personal injury lawyer” or “accident injury attorney” can be a bit misleading. For the most part, the only people who know exactly what a personal injury lawyer is are other attorneys, or people who have previously been injured in an accident. The only time you need an accident injury lawyer is when you or a member of your family are the ones who are injured in the accident. This could be most any type of accident. For instance, my injury practice focuses on car accident injury and dog bite cases; however, personal injury lawyers handle cases involving all types of accidents: car accidents, dog bites, slip & falls, medical malpractice, workers compensation, etc. I am often asked if someone needs an injury lawyer after they cause an accident which causes damage or results in injury to another person. The short answer is no; not because the at-fault paerson does not need legal representation, but because they need a defense attorney, not an injury attorney. When someone is injured in an accident, and that accident was caused by someone else (even another family member), they need an “injury lawyer”. In that situation their attorney will help them with the claims process and file a formal lawsuit when necessary. The insurance claim is based on a negligence action that could be filed against the person who caused the accident or based on other insurance coverages that may exist under the injured party’s own insurance coverage. There are usually multiple insurance policies and issues that come into play when handling an auto injury claim. On the other hand, someone who causes an accident would be in need of a defense attorney(s). If you are involved in an accident that is your fault, you will want to contact your insurance company and speak with an attorney who handles defense of criminal and traffic charges. You may need two lawyers depending on whether you are sued by the person you injured or not. Causing an accident presents two separate issues: (1) a potential criminal/traffic court issue prosecuted by the State and based on any citation you were issued by police (this is especially serious if you were arrested for DUI and/or if the other person was seriously injured) and (2) a potential civil negligence lawsuit filed by the person you injured. Your auto insurance carrier will provide representation for you on the negligence claim; however, you are responsible for hiring your own counsel for any proceeding invloving the criminal court system. Many attorneys offer free consultations, and when in doubt it is always a good idea to seek counsel before progressing with any situation that could have legal consequences.