You Need a Car Accident Lawyer After a Reckless Driving Accident Injures You
The slightest misjudgment can result in serious injuries or death. It may take weeks, months, or even years for a victim to recover. An innocent driver can even suffer for the rest of their life because of injuries inflicted by a reckless driver.
There was an increase in traffic fatalities nationwide in recent years, prompting federal transportation officials to push for improved roadway safety. Last year, reckless driving accidents continued to skyrocket. Even though fewer cars were on the road during the pandemic as more people worked from home, traffic deaths increased, likely because of excessive speeding and reckless driving.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that aggressive or reckless driving causes more than one-third of all motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. Individuals are reckless if they commit a combination of moving traffic offenses that endanger others or their property. There is a high probability that these dangerous acts will lead to a traffic accident.
You may recover compensation if an aggressive and reckless driver injured you. Bringing such claims to court can present unique challenges and opportunities. For example, if you bring a claim against a particularly aggressive or reckless driver, you might recover punitive damages, too. You can discuss this possibility with your car accident lawyer.
Car accident claims are complicated matters. You must provide evidence to recover compensation for severe injuries. Therefore, consult experienced auto accident lawyers who understand how to maximize your compensation and secure a win.
Aggressive and Reckless Driving Laws
The term aggressive and reckless driving refers to a wide range of motor vehicle misconduct, including, but not limited to:
- Road rage
- Speeding through a red light
- Driving too close
- Excessive speeding
- Swerving in and out of traffic
- Merging without using a turn signal
- Street racing
The following actions can also contribute to reckless driving:
- Unnsignaled lane changes
- Running red lights
- Driving at excessive speeds
- Continuous tailgating (following too closely behind a vehicle)
- Making frequent lane changes
- Traffic signs not being obeyed
- Intimidating other drivers on the road with hand gestures or verbal threats
- Passing through traffic in emergency lanes or on the shoulder
Across the United States, reckless motorists frequently display these behaviors, though the definition of aggressive and reckless conduct may vary by state. A court may need to determine whether the conduct violated the applicable standard of care.
A driver who goes 15 miles per hour over the speed limit on a highway with a 65-mile-per-hour speed limit may not commit an act of aggressive and reckless driving — but they might in a residential area with a 30-mile-per-hour speed limit.
Excessive or Criminal Speeding
Traffic violations like speeding may seem minor at first glance. Drivers, however, must exercise care when driving, and speeding can endanger others. People who disregard posted speed limits put other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists at risk when they get behind the wheel.
Excessive speeding is a crime.
Per most state laws, a driver cannot:
- Approach a school crossing at more than 35 miles per hour.
- Speed over 20 miles per hour in a business or residential district or 45 miles per hour in an unrestricted zone.
- In other places, it exceeds 85 miles per hour.
Whenever you’re just trying to get where you need to go, you shouldn’t have to deal with excessive criminal speeding, which can cause serious car accidents.
Some drivers consistently use their vehicles in a risky manner, regardless of the factors that lead them to act recklessly behind the wheel. Even if you are aware of the signs of unsafe, aggressive drivers, you cannot always avoid them.
You may recover compensation if you or a loved one have suffered an injury by reckless driving, but it is imperative to speak with a car accident attorney first.
Accidents Due to Reckless Driving and Speeding
You have the right to seek compensation when you suffered an injury or property damage due to someone else’s speeding or reckless driving. They should be accountable for disregarding others’ safety. It is possible to hold them liable with help from an attorney.
Most of these accidents happen due to high speeds or distracted driving, which makes the driver unable to avoid a collision.
Injuries like these are common:
- Lacerations and cuts
- Broken, fractured, or crushed bones
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Severe burns
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Soft tissue damage
- Wrongful death
The severity of these issues can vary from mild to catastrophic. Lacerations, for example, might heal in a few weeks after getting stitches, but traumatic brain injuries can last for years or even a lifetime. What about your bills? Who will pay them? You need to speak with a car accident lawyer who can advise you on the best course of action.
Proving Liability for Reckless Driving
A subsequent injury lawsuit may be easier to prove if the defendant engaged in aggressive and reckless driving behavior. Violations of traffic laws can constitute automatic negligence, also known as negligence per se.
As part of a standard car accident dispute, you must prove that the defendant failed to comply with the standard of care under the circumstances and thus was negligent.
When the defendant violates traffic regulations (e.g., speeding), you do not have to prove negligence in some aggressive and reckless driving scenarios. In this case, you only need to prove that their misconduct (speeding) significantly contributed to your injuries.
When a defendant’s behavior is particularly unsafe, juries tend to be more sympathetic to injured plaintiffs, making aggressive and reckless driving disputes easier to litigate.
For example, a jury may be more likely to favor the injured plaintiff if the defendant weaved aggressively in and out of traffic to impress their friends rather than considering the defendant’s perspective. Due to this common disadvantage, opposing attorneys and insurance companies are usually more willing to negotiate a fair settlement in cases where their client (the defendant) acted aggressively or recklessly.
When You Are in a Car Accident, You May Seek Compensation
You have the right to seek compensation when a reckless or speeding driver injures you. Your medical bills may be high, you may lose wages due to being unable to work, and you may be in pain and suffering mentally and physically. If the at-fault driver caused you harm, you can seek compensatory damages in a civil suit.
In addition, you can sue for punitive damages to punish the at-fault driver and prevent them from repeating their behavior. The requirement for recovering punitive damages is that the driver acted with willful and wanton disregard for other people’s safety.
In determining the best way to proceed with your case, a car accident attorney will investigate your situation with you.
Cases involving reckless drivers include:
- Commercial truck accidents
- Distracted driving/texting
- Injuries to pedestrians
- Bicycle injuries
- Construction zone accidents
- Drunk drivers
Reckless Driving Accidents and Punitive Damages
Punitive damages are rare in personal injury cases.
Rather than compensating you for your injuries, punitive damages punish defendants for malicious or egregious behavior.
Punitive damages can exceed compensatory damages (for example, $10,000 in compensatory damages and $20,000 in punitive damages can result in $30,000 in total). Punitive damages discourage others from engaging in dangerous behavior by imposing severe financial penalties.
You may recover this extra compensation if you suffered an injury in an aggressive or reckless driving accident. Aggressive and reckless driving may constitute “reckless disregard for the safety of others,” which can qualify your claim for punitive damages. Your car accident lawyer must make a convincing argument for punitive damages to the court.
Reckless Driving Is a Fact of Our Roads
More than three million people suffer an injury in traffic crashes annually in the United States. Many precautions are in place across the country due to so many Americans suffering every year. Schools and local governments promote safe driving habits. However, plenty of people still choose to drive dangerously. Many of these motorists are not even aware of their reckless behavior.
The following should help motorists reduce aggressive driving habits:
- Don’t take frustrations out on other drivers. Take a deep breath and relax.
- Avoid distractions such as drinking, eating, and using a cell phone while driving.
- Try driving on less congested routes to reduce frustration.
- Observe speed limits at all times
- Avoid driving frustrations and stresses by using public transportation.
- Leave early and be ready for the possibility that you might not make it to your destination on time, and be okay with that.
These tips can reduce the number of reckless drivers on the road.
Unfortunately, no matter how easy it is to drive safely, many drivers ignore the above tips and put others at risk of harm.
An accident lawyer can help you if you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to someone else’s reckless driving. Drivers who cause injuries and damages must pay for their actions. Those who negligently harm you or your family need to be held accountable.
Penalties for Reckless Driving
Reckless driving violations are classified and punished based on the circumstances and state laws.
Misdemeanor Reckless Driving
In most cases, reckless driving is a misdemeanor criminal offense. Most states impose fines of $50 to $1,000 for reckless driving and jail sentences of up to a year for conviction. Points can go on a driver’s license record for reckless driving convictions in states with traffic violation point systems.
Reckless driving convictions, whether misdemeanors or felonies, can also result in license suspensions.
Felony Reckless Driving
Depending on the state, reckless driving can be a felony when certain aggravating factors are involved, such as an injury or death. An individual convicted of felony reckless driving may face a year in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.
Criminal penalties do not compensate victims sufficiently, so you still need to impose civil liability on these drivers.
If You Come Across a Reckless Driver, Here Are a Few Things You Need to Know
A reckless or aggressive motorist can frighten and endanger other drivers.
To avoid an accident with a reckless driver:
- Always wear seat belts (all passengers must wear them as well)
- Once it is safe to do so, get out of their way
- Never challenge aggressive drivers
- Never make any hand gestures, make eye contact, or interact with aggressive drivers
- Report the aggressor to the local police
- After a collision, stop at a safe distance and call the police to report the accident
Again, even if you do everything to stay safe, reckless drivers can still cause accidents and serious injuries.
Innocent individuals should receive compensation from negligent drivers who cause accidents. This is a challenging process, especially after traumatic injuries. Seek the legal help you need from a car accident lawyer.