Can I file a personal injury claim if I've been injured in a street racing accident?

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Due to the high speeds involved, street racing accidents can cause devastating injuries to drivers, as well as to innocent bystanders. If you were harmed as the result of a street racing accident, you can seek personal injury compensation in addition to the criminal penalties the drivers will face for their actions.  Street racing accidents

Criminal Penalties for Street Racing

Street racing is defined in Louisiana RS 32:65 as "the operation of two or more vehicles from a point side by side at accelerating speeds in a competitive attempt to outdistance each other, or the operation of one or more vehicles over a common selected course, from the same point to the same point, for the purpose of comparing the relative speeds or power of acceleration of such vehicle or vehicles within a certain distance or time limit."

Racing is a crime regardless of whether or not there are any injuries associated with the race. However, the penalty for racing is enhanced if someone is harmed. Serious bodily injury or death related to a race results in the following possible penalties:

  • Fine of not less than $500 or more than $2,000
  • Imprisonment for not less than one year or more than five years
  • Both a fine and imprisonment

Serious bodily injury is defined as injuries involving unconsciousness; disfigurement; loss or impairment of the function of a limb, an organ, or mental faculty; or the substantial risk of death.

Manslaughter or murder charges are added to the standard penalty for street racing if the accident results in a fatality.

Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Claims Related to Street Racing

If you are harmed as a bystander in a street race, you can file a personal injury claim against the drivers involved in the accident. A personal injury claim is a type of civil action seeking financial compensation for damages relating to the incident. This includes:

  • Medical expenses such as emergency room care, diagnostic tests, surgery, pain medication, and follow-up visits
  • Anticipated future medical needs due to a permanent disability caused by the accident
  • Lost wages from the time you were unable to work because of your injuries
  • Anticipated loss of future earning potential due to a permanent disability caused by the accident
  • Pain and suffering

If your loved one has died due to street racing injuries, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim. This is a type of personal injury claim alleging that a death was caused by another person's negligence. Compensation can include:

  • Medical expenses up to the time of death
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Loss of future earnings
  • Pain and suffering, if the deceased did not die immediately from his injuries
  • Your loss of the deceased person's care and companionship

Punitive damages are not generally awarded in personal injury or wrongful death claims. However, they may be considered appropriate in a street racing case depending on the driver's past record and the specific circumstances surrounding the accident. Punitive damages are not intended to compensate for specific losses you have suffered. Their sole purpose is to punish the defendant in an attempt to discourage future bad behavior.

Differences Between Criminal and Civil Cases

Your civil claim is a separate legal action from the criminal penalties associated with the race. However, evidence from the criminal case can be used to support your claim for negligence.

Another important difference between civil and criminal cases is that criminal charges must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Civil claims must only be proven by a preponderance of evidence. This means, it is more likely than not that the defendant is guilty. Due to the differences in standard of proof, it's possible for someone to be found not guilty of criminal charges but liable in a civil claim.

Have You Been Injured In A Louisiana Car Accident?

If you've been hurt in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Alexandria office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule your free consultation.

 

Michael S. Koch
Attorney Michael Koch represents personal injury victims throughout Louisiana and the surrounding area.