As drivers, we do our best to stay safe on the road. Each time we get into our vehicle, we do so with the hope that other drivers will do the same. Sadly, this is not always the case. Every year, thousands of people die in motor vehicle accidents. Some of these accidents are unpreventable. However, far too many accidents happen because a driver fails to act appropriately on the road. Reckless driving is dangerous and can be fatal. If you or a loved one were injured because of someone else’s reckless driving, an experienced Nebraska personal injury attorney can help you fight for the compensation you deserve.
What Is Reckless Driving?
Reckless driving is more than just bad driving. Nebraska law specifically states, “Any person who drives any motor vehicle in such a manner as to indicate an indifferent or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property shall be guilty of reckless driving.” However, beyond that, the law does not detail what actually qualifies as reckless driving. Because of this, it is up to law enforcement and the courts to determine if you were driving recklessly. There are many examples of what constitutes as reckless driving, including:
- Speeding: Speeding is one of the top killers on the road. According to the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration, over one-quarter of all traffic fatalities are due to excessive speed. Going 5 or 10 miles per hour over the speed limit will generally not qualify as reckless driving. However, if you are driving at speeds at or above 20 miles per hour over the speed limit, you can probably count on a reckless driving charge.
- Driving too fast for conditions: As drivers, we always need to be aware of our surroundings. In inclement weather or unsafe road conditions, this includes adjusting your speed. Driving too fast for conditions can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
- Illegal passing: Passing zones exist for a reason. You should only pass another vehicle if you have sufficient room and you can see a clear path ahead of the lead vehicle. Never attempt to pass another car at a curve, on a hill, or in conditions with poor visibility. Doing so puts you and other drivers at risk.
- Aggressive driving: This includes tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, and failure to signal. These actions are selfish, dangerous, and can lead to an accident.
- Failure to obey traffic laws: It’s common sense that you should obey all traffic laws. But some people choose to ignore things like stop signs, yield signs, and other traffic rules for a variety of reasons. A common offense that you may not realize constitutes reckless driving—failure to stop for a school bus when the safety arm or stop sign is extended.
How Reckless Driving Affects a Personal Injury Claim
Accidents happen every day. Usually, someone’s negligence is to blame. But there’s a difference between negligence and recklessness. A negligent driver may overlook the consequences of their actions. They may do something without thinking or make a poor call in judgment. When a driver is reckless, however, they don’t care how their actions affect others. These drivers do what they want without considering other drivers.
If the other driver in your accident was reckless, and not just negligent, here’s what it could mean for your case:
- It may be easier to prove fault: The question of fault is one of the biggest factors in a personal injury case. Even in apparently clear cut cases, parties may try to deflect blame on one another. In reckless driving cases, the fault is usually obvious. Even if the other driver denies his or her actions, there will usually be witnesses or evidence to prove the driver’s recklessness.
- The court may consider punitive damages: A court imposes punitive damages when a person’s actions are so egregious that it wants to punish that person in an attempt to prevent them from repeating their actions. The amount of these damages is added to the value of the victim’s final recovery.
Recovering Damages After a Reckless Driving Accident
A car accident can change your life in seconds. In addition to physical injuries, an accident can affect you emotionally and financially. A personal injury claim may not take away the pain, but it can help you get on the path to recovery. The outcome of your case will depend on many different factors but common damages considered when calculating the value of your injuries include:
- Medical bills: You should never have to worry about getting treatment for your injuries. Covered medical bills include exams, imaging, diagnostic services, surgeries, medication, and other medical services.
- Lost wages: If you lose time at work because of your injuries, it can be financially crippling. Lost wages cover any time missed from work as a direct result of the accident. This includes time for appointments, surgeries, and rehabilitation. For severe injuries, this may include future wages.
- Pain and suffering: Not all injuries are visible to the naked eye. Pain and emotional trauma can affect you just as much as your physical injuries. Pain and suffering includes physical and emotional pain as well as loss of enjoyment, loss of consortium, and loss of companionship.
- Wrongful death: A wrongful death claim intends to transfer the financial burden from the victim’s family to the guilty party. This may include funeral expenses, future lost earnings, and any outstanding medical costs.
Know When to Bring in the Professionals
Why should you bother hiring a personal injury attorney when you can deal with the insurance companies directly? The answer is simple. Insurance companies only look at their profit margins. Injury claims come and go, but at the end of the day, insurance companies have to make money. This means that they will offer you far less than your injury is worth, especially if you don’t have an attorney.
If your case goes to court, a personal injury lawyer can gather evidence, interview witnesses, and prepare your case to present to a jury. Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis, meaning they don’t get paid unless you do. You may deserve compensation for your injuries. Contact a Nebraska car accident attorney to learn more about your legal rights.