Reckless driving involves the operation of a motor vehicle in a way that endangers either the safety of the people sharing the roadways or the property nearby. When you drive a car, truck, or motorcycle in a way that deliberately endangers or shows disregard for the safety of others (not to mention traffic laws), you are committing an unlawful act of reckless driving.
Considered a serious offense under California law, reckless driving can result in fines, points on your license, license suspension, license revocation, and even imprisonment. Depending on the type of reckless driving infraction committed – excessive speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, tailgating, street racing or sideshow takeovers, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or driving while distracted and/or drowsy – you could face an excessive fine, jail time, revoked license, punishment through civil court, and more.
In the sections below, we will review everything you need to know about reckless driving, including some important statistics, a look at personal stories demonstrating how this type of dangerous roadway behavior impacts lives, and information on how to recover financial damages through a car accident injury lawsuit with Dordulian Law Group.
Last year on September 1st, Kevin Hart was the victim of a reckless driving accident in Malibu, California. Hart was the passenger in his own car when the driver accelerated too quickly around a turn and sent the vehicle careening down an embankment and into a tree. Hart fractured his spine in three places and two other people, in addition to Hart, were severely injured in the accident. The cause of the accident was identified as “reckless driving.” California law defines reckless driving as when a person “drives a vehicle upon a highway in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.”
Although Hart underwent surgery and has made nearly a full recovery, the accident could (and should) have been avoided had the driver of the car not been driving recklessly. Hart was hospitalized for 10 days and unable to fully return to work for three months. Although no lawsuit was filed-Hart was a friend of the driver-many victims of reckless driving decide to pursue legal action. Hart, presumably, had the financial resources to fund his own medical bills and recovery. But not all victims of reckless driving accidents are so fortunate.
You should never have to pay for someone else’s reckless driving. If you’re facing medical bills, property damage, or pain and suffering, you deserve compensation. Thankfully, the law provides a means through which victims of reckless driving accidents can obtain financial compensation for their harm and injuries.
If you have been injured in an accident caused by a reckless driver, you can recover compensation for your injuries and related costs by filing a personal injury lawsuit with an experienced car accident attorney at Dordulian Law Group (DLG).
Although reckless driving is actually a misdemeanor crime in California, and punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000, reckless drivers can also be sued by the victim(s) in civil court.
A recommended first step is to file a third-party claim with the reckless driver’s insurance company. But if the insurance company does not provide a fair settlement amount, then the victim can file a car accident lawsuit-which is a type of personal injury lawsuit-in civil court.
The elements that a victim plaintiff must prove in a car accident claim are as follows:
While some personal injury and car accident lawsuits are based on a driver’s negligent driving, reckless driving is a heightened version of negligence, and a more severe allegation. So, what’s the difference between negligent driving and reckless driving? Let’s take a look:
A negligent driver does not have to be aware that his or her actions are risky or likely to cause harm to another. A plaintiff in a negligent driving lawsuit must simply demonstrate that the defendant driver acted differently than a driver exercising reasonable care would have under the same circumstances.
A reckless driver, however, demonstrates willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others and ordinary care. The main difference between negligence and recklessness is that a driver who is acting recklessly does so with knowledge of the risk of his or her actions. That is, the driver is aware of what he or she is doing and knows that the action is highly likely to cause harm to others, yet engages in the action anyway.
Usually, a plaintiff victim in a reckless driving lawsuit brings a negligence cause action, and alleges recklessness as a clear demonstration of severe negligence.
There are countless ways that drivers engage in reckless behavior. Some examples are as follows:
Ready to file a claim and pursue justice through a financial damages award? Our expert attorneys are available online or by phone now.
According to reports by the California Office of Traffic Safety, there were 3,563 traffic accident deaths in 2018. Approximately 1,069 of the 2018 traffic fatalities were due to alcohol-impaired driving (blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher). And 42% of all drivers killed in vehicle accidents tested positive for legal and/or illegal drugs. In 2017, Los Angeles County reported 92,020 injuries and deaths caused by vehicle accidents, the majority of which involved an alcohol-impaired driver. And 18,675 of these Los Angeles fatalities and injuries were due to reckless speeding.
The numbers speak for themselves – reckless driving is a prevalent and severe problem in California.
How Much Compensation Can a Car Accident Victim Expect From a Lawsuit?
Victims of reckless driving accidents often suffer severe and long-term injuries. These injuries can cause a variety of physical, emotional, and economic harms. Examples include past, current, and future medical expenses, past and future loss of wages, emotional pain and suffering, loss of earning capacity, permanent physical or mental disability or disfigurement, decreased quality of life, spousal loss of consortium, etc.
The victim plaintiff must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant driver was negligent or reckless (it was “more likely than not” that the defendant driver was negligent or reckless in his or her driving). Once the plaintiff has proven negligence or recklessness, the plaintiff is entitled to reasonable damages that were caused by the accident. Plaintiffs can obtain compensatory damages-both economic and non-economic-such as lost wages, pain and suffering, medical bills, loss of consortium, etc.
If the accident victim had a pre-existing condition at the time of the accident, then they must prove that the accident aggravated the condition, and they are entitled to damages related to the worsening of the condition.
When a car accident plaintiff alleges that the defendant acted recklessly (not just negligently) in causing the accident, this is usually an indication that the plaintiff is also seeking punitive damages. Punitive damages are compensation from the defendant that punishes him or her for their actions that harmed the plaintiff. These damages also serve the purpose of discouraging the defendant (and other potential defendants) from engaging in similar conduct in the future.
California law specifically permits victims in personal injury cases to seek punitive damages (the California statute calls them “exemplary damages”). However, the standard by which the plaintiff must prove that they deserve punitive damages is higher than the standard needed to prove general damages such as medical expenses and lost wages. To be awarded punitive damages, the plaintiff victim must prove by “clear and convincing evidence” that the defendant acted with malice, oppression, or fraud. Also, insurance policies often do not cover punitive damages, so the individual defendant must pay these out of his or her own pocket.
In 2013, the average settlement amount for a personal injury car accident lawsuit was $24,000. That said, many factors are considered when determining compensation following a car accident, and every case is unique.
The statute of limitations for commencing a car accident lawsuit is generally two years from the date of the accident. If more than two years have passed, a victim can no longer file a civil lawsuit for compensation, regardless of how severe his or her injuries are or will be in the long-term. Therefore, it is important to file your lawsuit as soon as possible with the assistance of an experienced Dordulian Law Group car accident attorney.
Exceptions do exist for civil lawsuits or claims involving government entities. Claims against any California government agency (city, county, or state) must be filed within six months (180 days) of the accident.
The bottom line is this: the sooner a victim files their lawsuit, the sooner they can obtain compensation for expenses and pain and suffering. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a car accident, please feel free to contact an experienced attorney at Dordulian Law Group today.
It can be daunting to think about beginning the process of filing a legal claim to recover financial damages following a car accident. This is especially true when the accident victim may already be dealing with medical injuries and other types of pain and suffering. That is precisely why contacting an expert car accident attorney at DLG is the best decision an injured victim can make. Whether you are looking for an attorney to help you or someone you love, experience matters. People choose DLG because we get results. We’ve successfully recovered over $100 million for our clients throughout the years. Our clients consistently recommend us to others because of our compassionate, dedicated, and responsive legal representation. We are here for our clients 24/7.
The attorneys at Dordulian Law Group will fight endlessly for your rights. We do everything in our power to ensure that victims receive the largest possible financial damages award under the law. Our firm has over 25 years of experience representing car accident victims. Our expert team includes Samuel Dordulian, a former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County, and Moses Castillo a former Los Angeles Police Department Central Traffic Division Detective. Between Dordulian and Castillo, your case will be in excellent hands.
DLG’s dedicated and talented attorneys have the experience needed to take on and win your case, thus ensuring that victims do not have additional worries, such as medical bills, property damage bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Evidence of our success is seen in our many client testimonials. And, best of all, we have a “no fee guarantee.” This means that you never have to worry about paying a penny until we win your case. If we don’t win, you don’t pay.
We offer a free, discreet, and no-obligation consultation where an experienced lawyer will review your case and help you understand all of your rights under the law. Our team is here seven days a week to take your call and answer your questions. To begin your free consultation with a car accident lawyer at DLG, please call us at (818) 322-4056 or contact us online today.
“Thanks for everything that you did with my no insurance car accident. Anthony right away got me the medical treatment I needed , Anthony and Rafi made this whole process a pleasure to work with believe it or not! I appreciate the promptness, professionalism and stellar customer service thank you for your commitment. If someone needs an accident lawyer I would definitely recommend Dordulian Law Group is the best!!!”
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