Causing Death or Serious Injury

Causing Death or Serious Injury by Dangerous or Careless Driving

We recognise that fatal road traffic accidents are traumatic for all persons involved whether you are a passenger, driver, witness or part of the emergency response. If you find yourself under investigation for a serious injury or fatal road traffic accident you must ensure you have legal representation at the earliest stage. All police stations will provide you with access to a duty solicitor at interview if you do not have a solicitor or they are unable to attend for interview. If you are charged with an offence you are strongly advised to obtain representation. In all but a limited set of circumstances your legal aid representation will be available free.  You may also have access to insurance funding.

What offences might I face if I was involved in a serious injury or fatal road traffic incident?

  • Causing death by dangerous driving
  • Causing death by careless driving
  • Causing serious injury by dangerous driving

What evidence do the Police need to prove an allegation of causing serious injury or death by careless or dangerous driving?

The prosecution must prove that the driving fell below the required standard in the same way as for careless driving and dangerous driving cases. They must then prove that the driving caused the serious injury or death. See our information for the non-fatal offences here.

What is the penalty for causing serious injury or death by careless or dangerous driving?

The range of penalties for these offences starts at a community penalty such as doing unpaid work through to lengthy custodial sentences.

Cases of death by dangerous driving are sentenced at the Crown Court and will result in a sentence of between 2 and 14 years depending on the seriousness of the offence.

What other offences might arise in fatal road traffic incidents?

In cases where there is no evidence of carelessness or dangerousness an offence may still be charged if the driver who was responsible for the accident was driving without a licence, uninsured or whilst disqualified. These charges are likely to be rare as any fatal incident is most likely to be charged as causing death by careless driving. The penalties range from community order up to two years custodial sentence.

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