When we go out on the road, we expect other drivers to exercise care to keep others safe. Unfortunately, some drivers fail to respect the rules of the road or operate with carelessness, which puts other motorists in danger.
If you or a family member suffered injuries at the hands of a reckless driver in Huntsville, contact our office to speak with an experienced reckless driving accident attorney. The reckless driving lawyers at Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., have the experience and knowledge necessary to fight for your rights and interests after a crash.
What Is Considered Reckless Driving in Huntsville?
Reckless driving is a crime in Alabama. Not only can the at-fault driver face serious criminal penalties, but victims who are injured in a crash with a reckless driver may be able to recover compensation for their injuries in a separate civil claim.
Any number of behaviors or activities can constitute reckless driving.
Examples of reckless driving include:
- Failure to maintain control
- Failure to yield
- Rapidly changing lanes or swerving
- Unlawful passing
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Intentionally running a red light
Alabama Reckless Driving Laws
Under Alabama Code Section 32-5A-190, a person is guilty of reckless driving when they drive a vehicle carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard for the rights or safety of persons or property, or without due caution and circumspection and at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property.
Reckless driving is more than mere negligence. For a person to be convicted of reckless driving, the behavior must be so careless or willful that they are disregarding the safety of others, knowing their acts could likely cause injury or damage.
Most car accidents tend to be the result of negligence, where one party happens to be looking the wrong way, not paying attention, or otherwise not exercising ordinary care. Recklessness is a higher standard because it requires the victim to show that the at-fault driver acted wantonly or knowingly with disregard for others’ safety.
How Reckless Driving Causes Crashes
Reckless drivers are more likely to cause car crashes because reckless driving means that the driver is disregarding the safety of others around them.
Excessive speeding is one typical example of reckless driving. When a car is speeding, it decreases the amount of time the driver has to react. Not only is it harder for the at-fault driver to stop, but there is often not enough time for other vehicles to avoid a collision. Speed often makes injuries more severe.
Another common example of reckless driving is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Impairment negatively impacts the driver’s ability to detect road hazards, slows their reaction time, and lowers their inhibitions, leading them to make worse decisions than they would if they had been sober.
The rules of the road are designed to keep everyone safe. When some drivers disregard those rules, it increases the likelihood of a collision and catastrophic injuries or death.
Injuries Caused by Reckless Driving Car Accidents
Some of the more common injuries caused by reckless driving accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Facial injuries
- Broken bones
- Internal injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
Penalties for Reckless Driving in Huntsville
Because reckless driving is a crime, the consequences of reckless driving can include both criminal penalties and civil lawsuits from the victims. These proceedings may happen concurrently, or in some cases, the civil lawsuit may be filed after the driver is convicted of reckless driving.
When a driver receives a ticket for reckless driving, they can face imprisonment of five to 90 days, a fine of $25 to $500, or both. For a second or subsequent offense, the term of imprisonment increases from 10 days to six months, and the potential fines increase as well. The driver will also have their license suspended under Section 32-5A-195.
An experienced Huntsville reckless driving accident attorney at Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., may be able to use reckless driving charges in a later civil case to prove that the driver caused the victim’s injuries. However, a reckless motorist can be held civilly liable for a crash even if they were acquitted on reckless driving charges or never charged.
Liability in Reckless Driving Accidents
Liability in reckless driving accidents can be fairly straightforward, especially when the driver has been convicted. But even without criminal charges, a civil claim can still be successful.
In any car accident, an injured victim seeking compensation must be able to prove that the at-fault driver breached a duty of care and that breach caused the victim’s injuries. When a person was driving recklessly, such as by speeding, racing, or running a red light, this is usually sufficient to show that the driver had breached their duty of care. The victim must further show that that breach was the direct and proximate cause of their injuries.
A liable reckless driver may be responsible for damages, such as:
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Wrongful death
Punitive damages are another type of damages a reckless driver may be required to pay. Punitive damages punish the liable driver for especially egregious conduct to deter similar behavior in the future. Reckless driving is an example of a type of behavior that may be punishable by punitive damages because it is the type of willful, wanton, or intentional conduct that punitive damages are designed to deter.
Get Help from Our Huntsville Reckless Driving Accident Lawyers
At Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., our team understands that an accident with a reckless driver can be emotionally traumatizing and leave victims with lifelong injuries and mounting expenses. We believe in holding irresponsible drivers accountable for the injuries they cause.
Trust our attorneys to represent you through one of the most challenging times of your life. We have decades of experience representing victims in court and standing up to insurance companies.
Contact our office to set up a free consultation and tell us more about your case. We work on a contingency fee basis. Our clients do not owe us any fees unless we win their case.