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Reckless driving is a frequent cause of crashes that lead to injuries for the victims involved. It is a form of negligent driving for which the responsible party for the crash should be liable to the victims for any injuries that resulted. Reckless driving can occur in a multitude of ways and always remains a dangerous risk posed to other drivers on the road.

Every year, around 37,000 or more people die on the road in crashes. Millions more suffer serious, often life-altering injuries. Many of these injuries and deaths occur due to reckless driving crashes. Victims of these crashes deserve compensation for their injuries and the costs associated with the crash, or families deserve compensation for the wrongful death of their loved one due to a reckless driver.

What Is Reckless Driving?

Unfortunately, all too many people continue to engage in reckless driving behaviors despite knowing they significantly increase their risk of causing a serious crash. It is important to note how the law defines reckless driving.

A reckless driver fails to take the rules of the road or basic safety precautions into account.

Generally, police officers classify reckless driving as a more serious offense than careless driving:

  • Reckless driving deliberately ignores safety protocols
  • Careless driving generally involves a general lack of attention to the road

Reckless driving laws in several states phrase culpability for a reckless driving offense as “Any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.”

Reckless driving can occur in various ways and takes on many forms, including:

  • Traveling at excessive speeds – Most states automatically issue a reckless driving ticket to drivers who travel at speeds well over the posted speed limit. Generally, state law enforcement officers issue these tickets when a driver is traveling more than 25 miles per hour over the posted speed limit.
  • Ignoring traffic laws – Drivers who swerve in and out of lanes may find themselves convicted of reckless driving, as may those who deliberately ignore posted traffic signals or signs.
  • Racing – Drivers may choose to deliberately race their vehicles down roads used by other people, posing substantial danger both to themselves and to anyone else who uses the road. Racing becomes particularly dangerous when drivers take up both lanes of a two-lane road or attempt to cross into the other lane of traffic to gain an advantage.
  • Passing on a blind curve – Most roads indicate where passing can occur safely with a broken yellow line. On roads with a solid yellow line, drivers should avoid passing one another, even if the front vehicle is traveling excessively slowly. Passing on a blind curve can make it impossible to see oncoming traffic, substantially increasing the risk of a crash and be considered reckless driving.
  • Ignoring or going around railroad barriers – Railroad barriers prevent cars from moving onto the train tracks as a train passes by. Ignoring these barriers can result in getting hit by a train. Drivers who ignore them without getting hit may quickly face reckless driving charges.
  • Passing a school bus with its stop sign extended and lights flashing – Any time a school bus extends its stop sign and flashes its lights, it is indicating that children can board or exit the bus. Ignoring this signal can put children in significant danger. Even passing a school bus at a slow rate of speed can leave drivers facing reckless driving charges.
  • Trying to avoid or outrun a police officer – Some drivers will go to extraordinary lengths to get away from law enforcement officers. Unfortunately, speeding, swerving, or engaging in other illegal actions to avoid an officer can count as reckless driving and lead to crashes.
  • Drunk driving – Many people under the influence of drugs and alcohol are more likely to engage in reckless driving behaviors. In some cases, the act of operating a vehicle while under the influence by itself can result in reckless driving charges in addition to DUI charges.

Reckless driving carries with it a substantially higher risk of potentially causing a crash or being involved in one. Reckless driving, such as traveling at excessive speeds or swerving in and out of lanes, can lead to a driver having less control over their vehicle and causing a crash, compared to what they could do if driving safely.

Liability of Reckless Drivers

Reckless driving often leads to serious crashes, and thus it can frequently cause serious injuries for those victims involved in the crash. As for the reckless driver, it can lead to more serious penalties after a crash, including higher fines or loss of their driving license.

If you suffer injuries at the hands of a reckless driver, however, the other driver’s behavior may have a significant impact on your injury claim.

For example:

  • Reckless driving helps determine fault in the crash. If you know the other driver engaged in reckless driving behavior, it may solidify the responsibility that the driver bears for the crash. This can make it easier to prove fault and more easily obtain a settlement with the other driver’s insurance company or through litigation of your claim.
  • Reckless driving on the part of the other driver does not change the compensation you receive. The insurance company will typically base the compensation for a crash off of the extent of your injuries, any damage to your vehicle and personal possessions, and the coverage offered by the driver’s insurance policy. The driver’s behavior at the time of the crash does not change the compensation you can seek, nor will it change the way the insurance company interacts with you.
  • Reckless driving could change the compensation you receive if you take your legal claim against the other driver to court rather than settling with insurance. In litigation, a court may hold the reckless party additionally liable and obligated to pay more damages due to their reckless driving. Seriously reckless driving can also present the opportunity for a victim of a crash caused by such to seek punitive damages.

Speak With a Car Accident Lawyer Right Away

In whatever case, if you are the victim of a crash caused by a reckless driver, you deserve proper compensation for your injuries. The best way to obtain that is by finding the right legal representation in handling your claim, whether it be negotiating a settlement with insurance companies or taking your claim to court for litigation.

With the proper legal representation from an experienced Illinois car accident attorney, you can obtain all the compensation you deserve for your injuries and costs sustained from the crash caused by a reckless driver.