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Reckless Driving Accidents

December 20, 2021

When drivers get behind the wheel, they must care for the safety of everyone else on the road and their passengers. They are operating a large vehicle that travels at high speeds. Even careless mistakes can put others in danger.

When drivers act with a willful disregard for the safety of others, it is reckless driving. When you suffered an injury because of someone else’s actions on the road, you can recover financial compensation after contacting a car accident lawyer.

Dangerous Driving Is Increasing in Florida

The problem is reckless driving has gotten far worse since the start of the pandemic. Even though the number of vehicles on the road has decreased, the number of road fatalities has skyrocketed. When given the space, drivers will be even riskier. Police officers are issuing far more tickets because emboldened drivers are taking chances that they would not have taken a couple of years ago.

Whether you are on a highway like I-595 or an arterial road like University Drive, the common denominator is that some drivers can care less about your safety, and they always seem to be in a major hurry.

Strict Laws Have Not Been Successful in Making Roads Safer

Florida laws are strict, and they severely punish reckless drivers. However, that has not done anything to make the roads safer. Reckless driving carries with it the charge of a second-degree misdemeanor. The first offense can bring a jail sentence of up to 90 days. That increases to six months in jail for a second offense.

If there has been any damage to property (meaning the driver was involved in a crash), the driver will face a first-degree misdemeanor charge. If there is severe injury involved, the offense becomes a third-degree felony.

In 2020, 101 fatalities took place in Florida when a driver operated a vehicle in a reckless, erratic, or aggressive manner. These crashes caused 282 incapacitating injuries and 650 non-incapacitating injuries. The injury rate in reckless driving crashes is far higher than in other crashes. In reckless driving accidents, there is an almost 25 percent injury rate, which is almost double the rate of injury in crashes where a driver was negligent.

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Drivers Can Be Reckless in Many Ways

Reckless driving is not necessarily one specific action. Instead, it is anything that a motorist does that shows a conscious disregard for the welfare of others. Reckless driving requires an active choice that the driver makes to do something dangerous as opposed to careless.

One can drive recklessly by:

  • Speeding – In Florida, reckless driving is a speed that is considered “grossly excessive.” Much of this may be up to the officer who makes a traffic stop. Drivers who are traveling at these rates of speed have less of an ability to respond to any challenges on the road. They also have a greater likelihood of losing control of their car. When crashes occur over 55 miles per hour, there is far more intrusion into the driver’s space from the impact of the crash. As the speed increases, the hit driver has less chance of surviving the crash or escaping without severe injury. However, speed alone is not reckless on its own. The driver must do something else that shows disregard for others.
  • Driving under the influence DUI or driving under the influence of drugs is an example of reckless driving. These are conscious choices that drivers make that place other people in danger. DUI accidents lead to far more severe injuries because the inebriated motorist is speeding and driving erratically.
  • Tailgating – Driving too close to other motorists drastically increases the risk of rear-end crashes. These accidents can lead to whiplash, especially when the tailing car hits the front car at a higher speed.
  • Texting while driving – This is another choice that drivers make that reflects a complete lack of care about anyone else’s welfare. These crashes are very dangerous because drivers do not make any attempt to brake or slow down because they cannot see the car in front of them.
  • Weaving in and out of traffic – Excessive lane changes risk cutting off other drivers or sideswiping them. When drivers get cut off, they often lose control of their cars.
  • Road rage – Florida drivers are known for having extreme reactions and uncontrollable anger behind the wheel. They often intentionally target other drivers when they feel that they have been cut off and tailgate or try to force the other driver off the road.

Why Reckless Driving Accidents Cause More Severe Injuries

One reason why reckless driving is so dangerous is that the other driver does not have much warning to take evasive action. When you are not on guard or expecting something, there is little that you can do to avoid the car coming at you. In addition, reckless driving accidents occur at a higher speed.

Furthermore, the reckless driver also cannot do much to stop themselves from hitting you at high speed. For example, when the reckless driver is texting behind the wheel, they cannot see you in time to apply the brakes.

How Criminal Reckless Driving Charges Affect Your Civil Case

In a reckless driving accident, the chances are that the police charged the other driver in the crash. Nevertheless, you must still prove that the driver was legally responsible for your injuries. Of course, if the other driver pleads guilty to the charges, it can be used as evidence in your civil case.

However, even if a court acquits the other driver of the charges, it does not mean that you cannot win your civil case. First, the standard for you to receive financial compensation is not recklessness. All you need to prove is that the other driver was negligent, meaning that they acted unreasonably under the circumstance. A driver can be careless without being reckless.

There is a lower standard of proof in a civil case. All you need to prove is that the driver was negligent is a “preponderance of the evidence.” In plain English, you must prove that it was more likely than not that the driver did something unreasonable that caused your injury. In other words, the only reason you need to watch the criminal case is to see if it provides anything that you can use to help your civil case.

Damages in a Reckless Driving Case

If you have suffered an injury in a reckless driving crash, you may recover:

  • Lost wages for the time that you missed from work or the reduction in your ability to work
  • Pain and suffering for the experience that you have gone through since the accident, including the physical pain you are feeling and the depression and anxiety
  • Emotional distress
  • The cost of all of your medical bills (both in the past and the future)

Reckless driving accidents have a far higher fatality rate. If a reckless driver has killed your loved one, your family can file a wrongful death lawsuit to be paid back for what you had lost when your family member died. A wrongful death lawsuit will compensate your family for both their financial losses and their emotional distress from tragically losing a loved one. This claim can also pay your family for losing the love and support of the person who you tragically lost.

Depending on how reckless the other driver was, you may even get punitive damages after your accident. In general, these are very rare in a car accident case. However, when the other driver’s actions were shocking and terrible, the jury may want to punish them. The jury can make this award in drunk driving cases or when the driver was speeding excessively. Punitive damages can greatly increase the amount of your financial compensation, but only a jury will award them.

How Insurance Companies Will Make Your Life Difficult in a Reckless Driving Accident

There is a strong likelihood that the other driver’s insurance company will not fight you on liability in a reckless driving crash. After all, liability is usually pretty clear-cut if you have facts that support reckless driving. Do not think that you do not need a lawyer when the insurance company readily admits liability in the case. Conceding liability is only the start of many insurance claims. The insurance company can still play games, making your claim much more difficult.

They may:

  • Delay your claim by continuous requests for additional information and unreasonably delaying acting on your paperwork
  • Try to reduce your financial compensation by claiming that you were partially to blame for your injuries
  • Drag your claim out by making low offers and forcing you to negotiate hard for everything that you get
  • Lowball you by refusing to pay you the money that you deserve

The insurance company knows exactly what it wants to do as soon as it has a chance to review your claim. They know the full value of your claim, but they do not want to pay it to you. Without a lawyer, you may not know how to push the insurance company to up their offer and pay you the value of your claim.

You may need to up the pressure on the insurance company by using the threat of a lawsuit. When a reckless driver has injured you, the insurance company probably does not want to end up in front of a jury.

Other Liable Parties in Your Accident

Besides the responsible driver, there may be other parties that can bear some of the blame for your accident injuries. They will need to pay for your injuries. We will investigate your accident and help you learn whether there are others that you can sue.

These can include:

  • The bar or restaurant that served a visibly intoxicated patron, who then went out and injured you in a drunk driving accident. There is dram shop liability for drunk driving accidents.
  • The employer of a driver who was on the job at the time of the accident can be vicariously liable for the damage that their employee causes within the scope of their employment. Suing a company adds another insurance policy and can lead to a larger settlement when you suffer severe injuries.
  • If your vehicle did not perform as expected when you were trying to evade the reckless driver because of a defective part, you can file a product liability lawsuit.

In most cases, only the driver is liable, but you must have a lawyer who covers all the necessary bases to maximize your recovery. If you can sue an additional party, it can maximize your recovery by adding another insurance policy.

We have represented thousands of clients just like you who have suffered an injury in a car accident. We provide individualized representation, considering your circumstances before making any recommendations.

Not every accident victim is in the same position, and we take the time to learn about your situation as part of your case. We will be with you every step of the way, and we will leave no stone unturned in your case. You can have peace of mind knowing that you can leave all of the details to us.

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Call a Car Accident Lawyer for Help Right Away

With the right car accident law firm, your legal rights are our cause. We work to maximize your financial recovery when someone else’s recklessness or carelessness has injured you.

Our attorneys know the tricks that insurance companies use to try to save money and are not afraid to take them on directly.

Reach out to schedule your free initial consultation. If you are worried about money, you do not need to pay us anything out of your pocket, and we only collect payment if you win your case. Protect your rights today.

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