Were You Hurt in a Reckless Driver Accident?
All of us have been on the road alongside drivers who ignored red lights, drove far too fast or tailgated other drivers. These can all lead to catastrophic, even fatal, accidents. It’s such a hard pill to swallow when a reckless driver hits you head-on. You may be wondering how this could have happened to you. Was it your fault? Did they do it on purpose? What will you do next?
Accident victims who suffer injuries and losses as a result of reckless driving deserve compensation. A lawyer for a reckless driver accident lawsuit can help the victim recover that compensation. Throughout this article, we discuss reckless driving and how car accident lawyers can hold reckless drivers and others accountable.
Different Types of Reckless Driving Accidents
You may know that reckless driving causes wrecks, but do you know what constitutes reckless driving according to the law? Texas law defines reckless driving as any driving behavior that shows a conscious or unmistakable disregard for others on the road. Under certain circumstances, any driving behavior can be considered reckless.
Get to know these reckless driving behaviors so you can avoid drivers who engage in them and hopefully avoid needing a reckless driver accident lawsuit.
Driving Too Fast
Drivers who ignore speed limits put themselves and others in danger. Likewise, drivers who drive too fast for road conditions, regardless of the speed limit, violate the law. Almost anywhere, driving 100 miles per hour is reckless, but even with a posted speed limit of 70, driving 60 miles per hour on a snow- and ice-covered highway is potentially reckless. You could easily be hit head-on by a reckless driver in this case.
If your rearview mirror shows a vehicle is trailing you by just a few feet, you can feel uneasy, especially at night or under sketchy driving conditions. It is possible for the vehicle behind you to rear-end yours if you need to stop quickly, which could lead to serious injuries and even deaths.
Lane-splitting and Driving on the Shoulder
Drivers who take the breakdown lane or squeeze between lanes of traffic are asking for trouble. Often, other drivers will turn into their path by accident when they don’t anticipate vehicles in these areas.
Weaving in and Out of Traffic
Driving too fast or speeding usually results in this behavior. In heavy traffic, especially without signaling lane changes beforehand, you can take other motorists by surprise and cause an accident.
Driving while impaired, whether from alcohol or drugs, or simply from fatigue or an underlying health condition, recklessly puts everyone’s well-being at risk.
Understanding Texas Driving Laws
In the state of Texas, reckless driving is a crime. The offense can be committed by a person driving a vehicle with “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” The deliberate indifference toward other people’s safety is willful or wanton disregard.
To be convicted of reckless driving, one does not need to be on a public roadway. Some private properties — like parking lots at shopping centers — are also covered by the statute.
According to Texas law, reckless driving is considered a misdemeanor and can result in a maximum fine of $200, 30 days in jail or both. In addition, when being hit head-on by a reckless driver causes a person’s death, vehicular manslaughter or homicide charges may be brought against the driver.
But, despite these laws, there can seemingly be a disconnect in Texas in regard to curbing reckless drivers. WalletHub conducted a study finding that Texas is one of the most lenient states in the country regarding reckless driving.
The Dangers of Reckless Driving
If you or a loved one has been hit head-on by a reckless driver, you know the emotional, physical and financial pain it can inflict on a victim and their family. Some of these injuries can change lives permanently. Some of the impacts that lawyers for reckless driver accidents discover can include the following:
- Spinal cord injuries: Chronic pain, problems with mobility and heart issues are some of the effects of spinal cord injuries. Some victims can experience permanent paralysis in very serious cases.
- Soft tissue injuries: People often believe that soft tissue injuries only result in bruising, but they can, in fact, cause severe and chronic pain due to tears and sprains.
- Traumatic brain injuries: Car accidents make up a large percentage of all traumatic brain injuries. These types of injuries usually cause life-long problems.
- Amputations: This can result from a car accident crushing a driver or passenger’s limbs.
- Disfigurement: Some victims suffer from permanent disfigurement after being severely injured in a car accident. Fires leaving the victim with burns or cuts from broken glass can lead to disfigurement.
- Orthopedic injuries: Dislocated joints and broken bones can result from car accidents, causing extreme pain and often requiring surgery. These can leave victims with life-long disabilities as well.
These are just some of the injuries reckless drivers cause. Lawyers for victims fight to hold those drivers accountable for their actions.
Reckless Driving Victims: What Attorneys Can Do
When reckless drivers cause accidents, victims usually have the option of seeking compensation from the driver, from others legally responsible for the driver’s actions, and even from third parties whose actions contributed to the accident. It takes the hard work and dedication of an experienced attorney to help get the compensation they need and deserve.
Victims of reckless drivers are represented by attorneys who evaluate the scope of their injuries. A lawyer can only know how much compensation an innocent victim will receive if they assess all the ways the reckless driver’s actions injured them.
Generally, an attorney will calculate the following damages for victims of reckless driving:
- Any future and past income lost due to the victim’s having to miss work because of injuries sustained in a reckless driving accident
- Non-medical expenses, including the cost to replace or repair any property damage or hiring external services to help with transportation or childcare
- Any medical expenses required to treat reckless driving-related injuries, such as hospitalization, emergency care, therapy, long-term care, surgery, medications, doctor visits or medical equipment
- Diminished quality of life, suffering, pain or any harm experienced in relationships
- Punitive actions to prevent reckless driving and to punish the reckless driver, in more extreme cases as necessary.
Each category contributes a different amount of money. Generally, however, the amount of damages that a victim recovers will depend on the severity and impact of their injuries and losses. Car accident lawyers can help their clients to secure the compensation that fully and fairly compensates them for the harm they suffered as a result of a reckless driver’s actions.
Taking Legal Action for Reckless Driving Accident Injuries
The attorney for a victim of a reckless driver accident lawsuit can design a legal strategy to obtain damages for the victim. Once the attorney knows who is legally responsible for paying the victim damages, they can begin to determine how much compensation the victim may receive. Depending on the facts, the law and the victim’s needs, the lawyer may come up with different plans from case to case.
Attorneys, however, frequently hold a legally liable party responsible for a reckless driving accident by doing one or more of the following:
Sending an Informal or Formal Demand
When representing a reckless driving crash victim, a lawyer must notify the legally liable party of the claim. Typically, a lawyer demands payment for damages by filing a lawsuit against the legally liable party or sending them a letter outlining the claim — or they may do both. In demanding payment, the lawyer starts a process that hopefully will result in the reckless driving victim getting a fair settlement.
There are times when the liable party, or a third party, possesses information that proves someone’s responsibility for a reckless driving accident. Lawyers can obtain such information through a process called discovery, which forces parties to turn it over to them. The purpose of formal (court-ordered) or informal discovery is to gather evidence to prove a claim and, sometimes, to show that the victim’s claim is valid to the party with liability.
In most reckless driving cases, the injured party and the legally liable party reach an agreement through negotiation. Legally liable parties agree to give money to the injured party as part of a settlement. As part of the deal, the victim agrees to release the party from further responsibility. Mediators help lawyers and insurance company representatives find common ground when negotiating settlements.
Going to Court
Despite the fact that most reckless driving accident cases settle, many still go to court first. It is common for lawyers representing reckless driving accident victims to argue in court to strengthen their cases. In cases that do not settle, attorneys should prepare and present their clients’ cases to a jury.
In most cases, the insurance company of the legally liable party pays the victim’s damages amount following a settlement or jury verdict in the victim’s favor. It is possible, however, for the legally liable party to refuse to pay, in which case lawyers for the victim may take legal action to obtain payment.
The Experts at Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law Will Protect Your Rights
Every year, there are over 38,000 fatalities on United States roadways. All it takes is one poor decision for your life or another person’s life to be changed forever. As lawyers for reckless driver accidents in Houston, we have worked with countless people who want their lives to go back to how they were before that terrible accident.
In Texas, reckless driving convictions can have serious consequences, and every case is different. Get in touch with a Texas lawyer if you’ve been charged with reckless driving or if you have been injured by a reckless driver. The law can be explained to you by an attorney, and you can decide what to do based on the facts of your case. But, don’t wait: the statute of limitations dictates that you file a lawsuit within two years. If you delay in finding a qualified attorney, you risk missing the narrow window of opportunity to get the compensation you deserve for your injuries and property damage.
At Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law, our mission is to help you get your life back on track. We offer a free case review to those who contact our car accident attorneys at (713) 973-8888.