When someone travels on the roadway and demonstrates a wanton disregard for those with whom they share the roadway, their behavior is considered reckless. While each state may have laws that impact what is considered reckless driving, there are specific behaviors that are generally unacceptable on any highway.
Reckless drivers not only put themselves at risk, but they also put everyone else at risk. Bicyclists, pedestrians, operators of motorcycles, as well as drivers and passengers in other vehicles, can suffer injuries as a result of a reckless operator. In such cases, it is important to consult a car accident lawyer who can hold the reckless driver financially liable for the damages they cause and help you seek the compensation you deserve.
Types of Reckless Driving on U. S. Highways
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a comprehensive list of types of driving that put others at risk.
Some of these include:
- Excessive speed or racing. Cities post speed limits to ensure roads are safe. However, when someone is driving above posted speed limits or taking part in the risky practice of racing on public roads, they put other thoroughfare users at serious risk.
- Aggressive driving. Drivers who engage in behavior such as rapid lane changes, ignoring red lights or stop signs, or tailgating are engaging in aggressive driving tactics which put others at risk.
- Drunk or impaired driving. Over-the-counter drugs, prescription drugs, and alcohol intake can all impact a driver's judgment. When someone operates a vehicle while impaired, they can cause accidents. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) outlines the laws governing this behavior.
- Distracted driving. While nearly every state has some form of rules on cell phone use or texting while driving, this behavior continues. Other distractions include eating, using GPS systems, and discussions with others in a vehicle, which are also considered reckless behavior.
In addition to facing potential legal penalties, those who engage in reckless behavior bring about accidents on our thoroughfares. When these accidents occur because of this behavior, the victim may have the right to pursue a personal injury claim.
Types of Roadway Crashes
Statistics on road crashes vary from state to state and depend on accurate reporting. However, a compilation of available data by the National Safety Council (NSC) titled Injury Facts shows the most common types of road crashes.
- Angle collisions account for 43.1 percent of thoroughfare injury accidents
- Rear-end collisions account for 39.6 percent of accidents involving an injury
- Sideswipe accidents account for 250,000 or 10.8 percent of injury crashes
- Head-on collisions account for 6.5 percent of injury accidents
Any type of collision can seriously injure a driver and their passengers. When someone is recklessly operating a vehicle, they can be held liable for the damage they create to a vehicle and the injuries they cause to other drivers, passengers, or others on the thoroughfare.
Types of Injury Victims of Reckless Driving May Face
Slightly more than 36,000 street crashes resulted in the death of 38,824 in one recent year, according to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Some of these were brought about by reckless behavior, including 29 percent occurring because of speeding, and 6 percent as a result of distracted driving. These two reckless behaviors accounted for over one-third of all lives lost on our streets.
Fortunately, while these numbers are sobering, many drivers and passengers survive car accidents but must live with the injuries they suffer.
Some of the most common injuries which a victim may suffer in a reckless driving accident include:
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Internal injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Head and neck injury
- Back injury
These injuries can have a devastating impact on a car accident victim's life. In addition to the physical pain of their injury, they may face days in the hospital, weeks of recovery, and in some cases, may never have a complete physical recovery.
Holding Reckless Drivers Accountable
One challenge a victim may have after an accident with a reckless driver is holding the driver accountable for their actions.
Some of the ways a victim can protect themselves include:
- Following doctor's instructions. One of the most important things an accident victim can do is follow their medical team's instructions. Not only will this be helpful for their physical health, but it will also help them seek compensation for their injury.
- Retain receipts for expenses. Victims of car accidents should keep receipts for all out-of-pocket costs incurred due to their injury. This is the only way to ensure they can demonstrate the financial losses they have suffered.
- Contact an accident injury lawyer. Finding a lawyer to review their case is another important way a victim of a reckless driver can protect their legal interests. Asking a car accident lawyer to review the circumstances of the injury can help a victim understand their legal rights and options.
Victims may face weeks of recovery after a collision with a reckless driver. The steps they take to protect themselves legally will matter when they file an accident injury claim.
Reckless Driving Accident Victims and Insurance Company Adjusters
In nearly every state, there is a requirement to report an accident involving personal injury within a certain number of days. In addition to reporting the accident to law enforcement, the drivers must report it to their insurance company.
Insurance companies will typically assign an adjuster to validate and investigate a claim. In many cases, they will assign multiple adjusters, one to handle medical and lost income claims and one to handle vehicle damage claims. Victims should be wary of speaking with any insurance adjuster, even from their insurer, without first contacting a car accident lawyer.
Insurance companies will need to determine the following information before they pay any accident injury claim:
- Liability for the accident. While a driver may claim the accident which caused their injury was the responsibility of a reckless driver, the victim must clearly demonstrate this claim. The victim can show this by using information from police accident reports, witness statements, and available traffic camera data.
- Financial losses of victims. Insurance companies are not in business to pay claims. They are in business to make money. The less they pay out in claims, the higher their profits. Therefore, victims must carefully document all financial losses. Remember that lost income may be unknown until the victim's injuries have no hope of improvement, regardless of further medical intervention. This is also known as maximum medical improvement.
- Local personal injury laws. Every state has different laws which pertain to personal injury. These laws may include time restrictions on filing claims, what the insurers' obligations are to the claimant, and limits on compensation there may be.
Victims who have signed a retainer with an accident injury lawyer can avoid negotiating with insurance companies. This is because the attorney will take over the negotiations on their behalf after a reckless driving accident.
Costs Associated With Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
Victims out of work recovering from a reckless driving accident are rightfully concerned about expenses. When a victim contacts a personal injury lawyer to represent them, the lawyer will nearly always offer a free, no-obligation case evaluation. This evaluation aims to ensure the victim understands their rights and to help them understand what legal options may be available to help them get compensated for their injuries.
When a victim and personal injury lawyer agree to work together, the lawyer will prepare a fee agreement. These fee agreements usually include the caveat that the lawyer will work on a contingency fee basis.
- The lawyer will take the case without an upfront fee
- The lawyer will receive payment for legal fees only if both parties settle
- The lawyer will explain any non-legal fees which the victim may be responsible for
This information is essential for victims because the feeling of being unable to afford legal representation often leads victims to decide to handle claims on their own. There are numerous advantages to having a lawyer working on behalf of a reckless driving accident victim.
The Role of Car Accident Injury Lawyers After a Reckless Driving Accident
Too often, victims of car accidents feel they can handle the claims process on their own. This happens in states with at-fault and no-fault auto accident insurance statutes. Those victims who opt to go through the insurance process without a lawyer can make mistakes that minimize their claims.
Roadway accidents can be complicated if there is more than one potentially liable party involved. In addition, when a victim has not hired a lawyer after a reckless driving accident, the insurance company will likely make a quick offer in the hopes the victim will accept the offer.
Insurers will also send countless documents to victims for review and signature. Sometimes, these documents contain onerous clauses that harm the victim's claim.
Here are some of the ways an accident injury lawyer may help victims of reckless drivers:
- Investigate the source of the accident. An experienced accident injury lawyer can obtain police reports, available video, and sworn statements from witnesses. This will help prove the source of the accident and help show who is liable for the accident.
- Prepare demand for settlement. Lawyers are uniquely prepared to provide an insurance company with a demand for settlement on behalf of their client. The victim's party should not submit the settlement demand until they have recovered sufficiently from their injuries sufficiently and know the full extent of their financial losses.
- Negotiations with insurers. An insurer often makes a counteroffer after receiving a settlement demand. The counteroffer is not typically considered a final offer, but a personal injury attorney may be able to negotiate a better offer on behalf of their client.
Victims of reckless driving accidents often face the predicament of negotiating on their own or hiring an personal injury attorney to represent them. The best option is to hire a lawyer to ensure the victim has an advocate on their side negotiating on their behalf.
While most accident cases settle outside of court, there is another advantage to hiring an experienced car accident lawyer. Should negotiations break down, the lawyer may file a lawsuit for the victim and handle all of the court proceedings.
Reckless Driving Accident Victims Have Rights
Let us be honest about something. Most of us have no idea what rights we have after a car accident. We know we should notify our insurance company, we know we should seek medical attention, and we know we have to let our employer know we will be absent from work while recovering from injuries.
However, the laws in every state are different. Whether we have been driving for decades without an accident or only have a few years of experience driving, chances are good that we do not understand how our rights are protected under the law when we are involved in an accident.
The best option for a reckless driving victim is to contact a personal injury lawyer in Myrtle Beach with experience handling car accident claims.