Reckless driving is a term that you may have heard news personnel or others use, but not everyone clearly understands it. Its definition, implications, and consequences indicate more than someone driving too fast or without caution. Reckless drivers endanger other roadway users. When accidents occur, reckless drivers can incur criminal and civil liabilities. If you’ve been a victim of a driver’s recklessness, seek legal assistance and guidance from a car accident attorney.
Definition of Reckless Driving
According to Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute’s definition, reckless driving is operating a motor vehicle in a manner that unreasonably interferes with the free and proper use of the public roadway and endangers its users. In most states, reckless driving is a misdemeanor when no accident occurs. If a driver’s recklessness causes an accident and another person suffers an injury, the consequences can be severe.
Types of Reckless Driving
Speeding is a common type of reckless driving. Whether the driver goes over the posted speed limit or drives too fast for current road or weather conditions, speed often plays a significant role in accidents.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes that speeding accounts for more than 12,000 deaths and thousands of injuries every year on U.S. roads. Speeding makes safely maneuvering the vehicle, noticing and reacting to hazards, and coming to a complete stop before a collision occurs more difficult.
Tailgating, or following too closely, is another form of reckless driving. This behavior doesn’t leave adequate room for the following driver to react if the leading car stops or slows down suddenly. Tailgating is a factor in most rear-end accidents.
Ignoring traffic signs and signals is another example of reckless driving. Not stopping at stop signs, running red lights, or failing to yield can lead to serious collisions.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal and highly reckless. The altered state of consciousness impairs reaction time, judgment, and coordination, increasing the likelihood of accidents.
Surveys by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that up to 18.5 million drivers have operated a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the past year. In the United States, drunk driving results in the deaths of 32 people and injures hundreds more every day.
Distracted driving occurs when the driver is texting, eating, talking to passengers, adjusting the radio, or participating in other actions that take their attention off the road. Driving while distracted can be as hazardous as driving under the influence. The seconds spent not focusing on the road can result in fatal accidents.
Consequences of Reckless Driving
Reckless driving can lead to severe legal repercussions, including hefty fines, loss of driving privileges, and even jail time (depending on the severity). The driver might be liable for any injuries, deaths, or property damage from their reckless behavior.
The potential harm to the driver and others on the road is considerable. Along with causing physical harm or death, the trauma from such accidents can have lasting psychological effects.
The driver could also face significant consequences regarding their driving record and insurance premium. A reckless driving charge often results in higher insurance rates, and repeated offenses can lead to local authorities revoking or suspending their license.
What to Do if You’re the Victim of a Reckless Driving Accident
If you sustain an injury because of someone else’s reckless driving, seeking medical and legal help is crucial. You could unknowingly suffer injuries after being in a car accident. The fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline and endorphins trigger chemical processes in the body to deal with the trauma of the accident, suppressing the symptoms of your injuries for several hours or even days. Seeking a prompt medical evaluation can reveal injuries that need immediate attention.
An experienced personal injury lawyer pursues compensation for your injury by filing a personal claim against one or more insurance policies. In no-fault states, car accident victims typically seek assistance with medical expenses and injury-related earnings losses through their personal injury protection policy.
They only file a claim against the at-fault party’s liability insurance policy if the injury is serious. In tort states, a third-party claim against the at-fault party’s liability coverage is typically the first step to seeking compensation. Other insurance you have can also factor into some circumstances.
When you file a personal injury claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company, a claims adjuster will evaluate it and determine whether the insured was liable for the harm you suffered. If so, they will determine how much compensation they’re willing to pay you.
Claims adjusters, however, evaluate the claim from the insurance company’s perspective of a business attempting to reduce payouts. An attorney can communicate with the insurance company and negotiate a settlement that fairly compensates you for your injury-related expenses and quality-of-life changes.
Most personal injury claims settle out of court. If the claims adjuster fails to make a fair offer, you can file a lawsuit in civil court to pursue the compensation you deserve. You must do so within the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in the state where the accident occurred.
It’s Free to Talk to a Lawyer About Your Car Accident
Reckless driving is a serious offense with consequences spanning beyond legal penalties. It can severely harm the driver, passengers, and other road users.
Speak with an attorney about your car accident, obtain answers to your legal questions, and learn more about hiring a car accident lawyers to handle your case without needing to pay for their services upfront. Most firms offer free case evaluations without financial obligation.
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