Should you get a lawyer for a careless driving violation with personal injury?
yes Yes, for several reason. Most important is that the lawyer should be able to tell you if you are even guilty of careless driving. Sometimes tickets are issued for the highest offense posssible even though the actions in question might constitute a lesser offense such as unsafe driving. A lawyer should also be able to tell you if, even though your driving was careless, that the state might not be able to prove the case. This sometimes happens when there are no eyewitnesses to the careless driving but the ticket is issued anyway. A lawyer should be able to tell you what consequences you will face if you decide to plead guilty or if you plead innocent, go to trial and are found guilty. Depending on the circumstances, e.g. if there was property damage or personal injury, the penalties might be quite onerous, including imprisonment. In New Jersey in rare cases it can be up to 15 days in jail. That way you will know exactly what you are facing and be better able to decide on your course of action. Finally, and perhaps more importantly, the lawyer will represent you in court whether you decide to plead guilty or not guilty. The judge and prosecutor will deal with the lawyer, not you. That will spare you from being intimidated into making a wrong decision. If you are going to be found guilty, the lawyer should do his best to minimize the penalties or at the very least ensure that you are not taken advantage of. As an example, a client came to me with a careless driving ticket issued to him after an accident. The client felt that he had been careless and was worried what might happen if he either pleaded guilty or was found guilty. No one, not even the other driver, had witnessed the "careless driving" and the police officer was summoned to the scene later so he never saw it either. In court, the prosecutor said he would do my client a favor and let him plead to a lesser offense so that he got no points. I asked him who his witness was. He said he had no witness, but that there had been the accident. A person without knowledge of the law might have pleaded guilty, but I reminded the prosecutor (as if he didn't really know it already) that under New Jersey law, the mere occurrence of an accident is not proof of careless driving. Without any witnesses, the prosecutor had no choice but to dismiss the ticket with no penalties to the client, not even court costs.