Lawmakers create rules and regulations to keep motorists safe on the road. Even though the police enforce these rules, many people continuously break them. For example, someone late for work might go over the speed limit or weave in and out of traffic to try to beat the clock. This reckless driving behavior can place the driver’s and other people’s safety needlessly at risk.
Reckless driving can lead to accidents and harm, from minor injuries to catastrophic losses. People who engage in reckless driving may get caught by the police before they cause an accident and only receive a citation. Alternately, the behavior could lead to an accident, which may result in a formal charge depending on the severity of the illegal act. The victims, though, must deal with the pain they suffer, but they should not pay for its cost. A personal injury attorney can help victims of reckless driving crashes recover compensation for their injuries.
Failure to Yield
Failing to yield to the pedestrian or vehicle with the legal right of way can lead to a driver's liability if the failure to yield results in an accident. Unfortunately, some drivers act like they always have the right of way.
Failure to yield accidents typically occur in the following situations:
- During a flashing yellow or red light
- When a driver making a left turn fails to yield to the oncoming traffic
- When a car merges onto the highway without looking for traffic in the lane next to them
- When a driver fails to yield to a pedestrian already at a crosswalk
- When someone disregards a yield sign
Weaving In and out of Traffic
Swerving in and out of lanes and cutting other drivers off constitutes reckless driving and dangerous, illegal behavior. Unfortunately, many people weave in and out of traffic because they believe it will save them time.
With the limited space between vehicles when a motorist weaves behind another vehicle, people who commit this reckless driving act can cause accidents and put other people at risk.
According to the NHTSA - National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speeding endangers everyone on the road, so lawmakers mandate speed limits to help protect everyone using the road. Speeding not only threatens the speeder's life but also anyone around them.
Consequences of excessive speeding can include:
- A higher likelihood of losing control of the vehicle
- Increased stopping distance once the driver recognizes a danger ahead
- Increased severity of the crash
- Greater financial implications of the crash
People speed for various reasons. Common excuses people use to justify speeding include:
- They are running late and believe speeding will get them where they need to go, closer to on time.
- During heavy traffic, drivers will attempt to speed to quickly get around other vehicles, recklessly searching for openings and breaks in the traffic.
Running Red Lights or Stop Signs
Red lights and stop signs help manage traffic flow and avoid collisions among cars crossing the intersections. Many people in a hurry or who don't feel the need to stop completely will eventually run through red lights or stop signs. If someone runs a red light or a stop sign, catastrophic consequences can occur.
Someone in a hurry might not make a complete stop at a stop sign. As a result, the reckless driver may not notice if other vehicles stopped or started going through the intersection.
Other times, people try to turn right on red. If they don’t make a complete stop, they can miss oncoming traffic and get hit by a vehicle going through their green light. Those who run through red lights and stop signs can face serious consequences depending on the accident’s severity.
Tailgating occurs when a vehicle follows very closely behind another. By tailgating, the driver significantly reduces their time to react to danger if they need to stop quickly.
This driving behavior endangers the person tailgating and other motorists around them. The person tailgating can crash straight into the vehicle in front of them if they must stop quickly. Doing this can cause a multi-car collision if other cars cannot stop in time. People who tailgate might deal with severe consequences if they cause an accident.
Driving Under the Influence
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol poses many dangers. Both alcohol and drugs impair drivers and affect their ability to drive.
Alcohol and drugs can impair drivers in the following ways:
- It slows down reflexes and decreases the ability to safely steer and stay within their designated lane.
- It impairs vision and makes it difficult for the driver to see the road.
- It impairs their judgment and reduces a person's ability to think, reason, make intelligent decisions, and exercise caution.
- It lowers their concentration. People driving under the influence might focus on something else, such as a cell phone, instead of keeping their eyes on the road.
- They might react slower if danger appears and they must stop quickly.
Passing Over a Double Yellow Line
When drivers in a hurry might pass a double yellow line to try to get in front of the other drivers around them, this dangerous decision can lead to an accident. The reckless driver might not see oncoming traffic and hit them head-on if they cross a double yellow line.
Lawmakers put double yellow lines on the roads for a reason. They indicate do not pass. Road conditions may not provide the driver enough time to pass a vehicle before oncoming traffic passes.
Texting While Driving
Texting or cell phone use while driving hinders the driver's ability to react effectively to sudden changes on the road. This reckless behavior can cause catastrophic accidents. Georgia law has a texting and driving statute to deter motorists from using their phones while driving. People who engage in texting while driving can face paying hefty fines.
Texting while driving takes the driver's attention off the road, and no one can drive safely unless they devote their full attention to driving.
The Reckless Driving Problems in Georgia
The Georgia Department of Driver Services releases a report on the number of reckless driving convictions each year. For most of the time since 2006, the reckless driving convictions stayed under 10,000. In 2020, the reckless driving convictions jumped to 13,629. These data show that reckless driving has become a bigger problem in Georgia.
Penalties for Reckless Driving in Georgia
Georgia law views reckless driving as a misdemeanor. Engaging in reckless driving comes with possible penalties of up to $1000 in fines, probation, and a year of jail time. Someone who received a reckless driving citation could also have to complete community service requirements or go through a drug and alcohol course.
The fines vary based on the severity of the accident. The reckless driver could face criminal charges if their actions lead to the severe injury or death of another person on the road.
Reckless Driving Victims Can Recover Compensation
After sustaining an injury because of someone else’s reckless driving, accident victims can recover compensation. This compensation, known as damages, refers to the sum of money someone owes someone else for injuring them. For example, suppose the reckless driver caused the injuries because they failed to yield and hit your vehicle. In that case, the injured victim can hire a lawyer to receive compensation.
Accident victims can recover monetary and non-monetary damages.
Attorneys refer to monetary damages as economic damages. Economic damages cover actual financial losses the accident victim had to pay because of their injuries.
The economic damages someone could recover after a reckless driving accident include:
- The medical expenses they accrued for medical care services they received to treat their injuries. This category can include the cost of an ambulance ride, hospitalization, surgery, doctor’s visits, or medication.
- The income they lost if they had to miss work while recovering from their injuries. This compensation can also include lost future income if the victim cannot work in the same job, if at all.
- Property damage if their car needs repairs or replaced after the accident.
The non-monetary (non-economic) damages encompass the physical pain and emotional stress the victim dealt with because of their injuries. Non-economic damages aim to compensate the injured party for their physical and emotional hardships.
Examples of non-economic damages can include:
- Pain and suffering if the injured victim has endured physical pain, anguish, or any suffering because of their injuries or the treatments involved in treating their injuries
- Emotional distress if they are dealing with any negative psychological issues because of the accident. These issues may include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, or sleeping problems.
Accident victims can have difficulty calculating non-economic damages since they aren’t associated with a monetary loss. However, an attorney can help accident victims determine the value of their non-economic damages. The attorney can then know how much compensation to fight for when negotiating with insurance companies.
Reckless Driving Is a Form of Negligence
In most cases, the law recognizes reckless driving as negligence.
Although, for accident victims to recover compensation after a reckless driving accident, they must prove the person who caused the accident met all the elements of negligence, which include:
- Duty of care: The defendant owed the plaintiff a legal duty of care. In a reckless driving crash case, the driver had a legal obligation to drive safely.
- Breach of duty: The defendant breached the duty of care. The defendant failed to provide a standard level of care that a reasonable person in the same situation would provide. A reckless driver breaches their duty by not providing a safe driving environment for motorists and other road users around them.
- Causation: The defendant's breach of duty caused the plaintiff to sustain injury. In a reckless driving accident, the defendant driving recklessly caused the injury victim to sustain injuries. The plaintiff must prove if the defendant had not driven recklessly, they wouldn't have suffered injuries.
- Damages: The plaintiff suffered damages because of the injuries they sustained in the accident. Damages can include medical bills, lost income, property damage, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
A personal injury attorney can develop a case to help the accident victim prove the defendant’s fault for causing the injuries. The victim and their attorney must demonstrate the elements of negligence to recover compensation after a car accident.
A Personal Injury Attorney Can Help Accident Victims
If someone drives recklessly and causes a car accident, they are likely liable for the resulting injuries. Accident victims can seek help from personal injury attorneys to represent them after sustaining injuries. An attorney can investigate the accident and help to prove the liable party.
Contacting a personal injury attorney can help the victim start recovering compensation for their injuries.
When called, most firms handle reckless driving cases today, and the team member may offer the victim a free consultation to learn their story and go over their legal options.