In Florida, reckless driving is a criminal act. State law defines it as driving any vehicle “in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” A person charged with reckless driving can face jail time and fines. If the reckless driver causes an accident and injury, harsher sentences are imposed.
But criminal penalties aren’t the only consequences a driver can face for reckless driving. When a reckless driving car accident occurs, the injured victims can seek justice through a civil action. They can file a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, emotional harm and other damages. If the reckless driving crash results in death, the surviving family members may file a wrongful death claim to recover damages that include loss of companionship as well as compensation for any financial support the deceased can no longer provide.
However, filing a civil lawsuit for reckless driving can be a complex legal process. It’s important to work with an attorney in gathering evidence, proving the claim, settling the case or taking any legal action to hold the reckless driver accountable.
What is Reckless Driving?
Reckless driving is any driving behavior that expresses a willful or grossly reckless disregard for the safety of others. Examples of driving actions that can constitute reckless driving include:
- Speeding in excess of 20 miles above the posted limit
- Driving far too fast for road conditions (during a storm or when visibility is low)
- Engaging in any type of car racing on public streets or in any games that put people at risk, such as playing “chicken” or “car/roof surfing”
- Running stop signs or red lights
- Aggressive tailgating (following the other driver too closely)
- Trying to make the vehicle go airborne
- Doing 180-degree turns
- Passing a school bus
- Driving without headlights
- Making abrupt U-turns, erratic turns or turning from the wrong lane
- Driving on sidewalks or cross-walks.
In general, reckless driving is very bad driving that not just breaks safety laws but does so in a way that it puts other people at risk of getting seriously hurt.
Injuries Caused by Reckless Driving
Florida Traffic Crash statistics indicate that 1.25 deaths occurred for each 100 million vehicle miles traveled in the state in 2011. This is the lowest number since the state’s crash statistics have been calculated. Still, 2,400 deaths happened on state roads during the year. Many of these crashes were likely caused by some type of reckless driving.
The Florida Department of Transportation has analyzed crash statistics in years past to determine when reckless driving served as a cause of accidents. In 2010, the DOT found specifically listed reckless driving as the cause of five fatal accidents (3.42 percent of in-state traffic fatalities) and 41 injury-causing accidents. Careless driving, which is similar in many ways to reckless driving, was listed as the cause of 332 fatal accidents and 47,513 injuries. Additionally:
- Excessive speed caused 118 traffic deaths and 2,440 injuries.
- Disregarding traffic signals led to 48 traffic fatalities and 4,991 injuries.
- Driving on the wrong side or going the wrong way caused 28 deaths and 716 injuries.
- Fleeing the police caused 12 fatalities and 232 injuries.
These are just a few examples of the different types of dangerous behaviors that could be considered reckless.
A Florida Lawyer Can Provide Help to Reckless Driving Accident Victims
Drivers have a legal duty to show reasonable care on the roads. This means they are forbidden from being reckless and endangering others. If a reckless driver intentionally or negligently puts others at risk, that driver should be made to compensate victims of any accident.
To learn more or schedule a free consultation, call Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney, today at our toll-free number or use our online form. You can speak directly to a Florida car accident lawyer who can review your case and help you to prove the other driver was reckless in a way that led to your injuries.