Most drivers eventually get into car accidents. Below are the most common legal consequences if you are at least partially responsible for a car accident:

  • Lawsuit: Most car accidents do not actually end up in court. The clear majority are settled by insurance companies representing both parties. But there are exceptions where a lawsuit can come into play. The insurance company for the responsible driver may not want to pay as high a settlement as the person thinks he is owed. If this occurs, the other driver could file a lawsuit against you. Your insurance company usually will defend you. But if injuries and damages go over your policy limits, you may be held personally liable.
  • Criminal charges: Most car accidents, even if you were 100% at fault, do not result in criminal charges. Car accidents usually only involve a criminal charge where there was reckless driving, or drugs and alcohol was involved. If you are drunk and injure someone in a car accident, you could get at least a few days to weeks in jail and fines into the thousands of dollars.

On a related note, being held liable for a serious car accident usually will cause a spike in your auto insurance rates.