When motorists drive carelessly, they put everyone else on the road at risk. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that at least 33 percent of all serious car accidents in a recent year were the result of reckless driving.
After a wreck, the insurance company for the at-fault driver may offer you a quick settlement. But it’s rarely enough to cover the losses you suffered. Before you resort to accepting a lowball insurance payout, consult with the experienced Baton Rouge reckless driving accident lawyers at TomenyǀBest Injury Lawyers. A dedicated car collision attorney at our office could help you pursue the compensation that you deserve.
What Is Reckless Driving?
Reckless driving is a generic term that typically applies to driving behaviors that are intentionally dangerous and negligent. These actions also willfully disregard the safety of others on the road.
However, the legal definition of what can be considered reckless driving varies from state to state. In Baton Rouge, if a driver’s behavior is reckless and a serious safety hazard to others on the road, the driver may face consequences for the “reckless operation of a vehicle,” as a seasoned attorney could explain.
State law defines “reckless operation of a vehicle” in broad terms. It outlines the crime as the reckless operation of a motor vehicle or other motorized method of transportation, allowing law enforcement and other agencies flexibility in determining what may constitute “reckless.”
As an experienced attorney could explain, some of the more common driving behaviors that can be associated with reckless driving in Baton Rouge include:
- Street racing
- Failing to obey posted traffic signs and lights
- Driving on sidewalks
- Making unsafe lane changes
- Tailgating or “brake checking” other vehicles
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Not allowing cars to change lanes
- Driving the wrong way on one-way streets or interstates
- Driving while intoxicated
- Passing stopped school buses with lights on and caution signs displayed
Injuries Caused by Reckless or Aggressive Drivers
Catastrophic and life-threatening injuries are not uncommon in accidents caused by reckless drivers. Not only are these injuries often expensive to treat, but they also can result in disabilities and other losses that last a lifetime.
Examples of injuries commonly associated with reckless driving accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Facial and dental injuries
- Head, neck, and spine injuries
- Torso and chest trauma
- Organ damage
- Internal bleeding
- Broken bones
- Road rash
- Deep cuts and lacerations
- Wrongful death
Reckless Driving Under Louisiana Law
Reckless driving is considered a criminal charge under Louisiana law. A charge of reckless operation of a vehicle is a misdemeanor offense, and a conviction will result in criminal penalties.
- First offense: Up to 90 days in jail and/or up to $200 in fines
- Second offense: 10 days to 6 months in jail and/or $25 to $500 in fines
- Subsequent offenses: If a driver is convicted of three reckless operation of a vehicle charges within a 12-month period, the driver may also face a 12-month license suspension in addition to fines and jail time. If a driver drives with a suspended license, the license may be suspended for an additional year.
While many states operate on a points system when it comes to tracking offenses on a driver’s license, Louisiana uses the Problem Driver Pointer System. This is the state’s way of tracking violations that may impact a driver’s record.
The system follows the status of a driver’s license and the number of offenses they have committed, not only in the state of Louisiana but across the entire nation. If a driver accumulates too many offenses under this system, he or she can face the suspension of their license, fees, and may be required to take driving courses.
Pursuing Damages After a Reckless Driving Accident
Victims injured in reckless driving accidents may be able to pursue several options for securing compensation for their injuries. Louisiana has a fault-based system for determining who is responsible for paying for car accident damages.
Under a fault-based model, the person who caused the accident is the person primarily responsible for covering the cost of the resulting damage, including medical expenses, property damage, and other losses.
A victim has several options for pursuing compensation from the at-fault party, including:
- Filing a claim against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company
- Filing a car insurance claim with his or her own insurer
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit
While several avenues are open for seeking compensation, the total amount of compensation that may be recovered is dependent upon another Louisiana law. Louisiana subscribes to a pure comparative fault doctrine. This means that the money a person is able to collect following an accident will be reduced by their portion of responsibility for the crash.
Consider this example: A reckless driver is speeding and hits your car at an intersection, causing you to suffer a broken arm and a concussion. However, you didn’t use a turn signal to indicate that you would be making a left turn. The speeding driver may be assigned 90 percent of the fault for causing the accident. However, since you didn’t obey the traffic laws by signaling, you were also deemed 10 percent responsible for the crash. You would then be entitled to the total amount of damages, minus your 10 percent of fault. If you had a total of $100,000 in losses, you could only recover $90,000 from the at-fault driver.
It’s important to work with a Baton Rouge reckless driving accident attorney in cases of shared fault. Insurance companies will stop at nothing to reduce how much they have to pay you. It’s guaranteed that they will try to push as much blame for the accident as possible onto you.
With a lawyer’s help, you can secure important evidence to prove that the other driver was reckless and primarily responsible for the crash that injured you. An attorney will also be able to aggressively negotiate on your behalf to push for the maximum amount of compensation you deserve.
Victims of serious reckless driving accidents must also keep in mind that if a personal injury lawsuit is the best course of action, you have a limited window to file. The statute of limitations for filing a claim in Louisiana is one year from the date of the accident.
This deadline is especially important to remember even if you are pursuing an insurance claim. Settlement talks between a victim and an insurance company can break down. When that happens, a lawsuit may become the only viable way to recover fair compensation. But if negotiations have taken too long or the insurance company drags talks out, the statute of limitations may run out. Filing a case after the one-year deadline will result in the case being dismissed without consideration.
At TomenyǀBest Injury Lawyers, we know that a hasty settlement rarely provides victims with the full amount of compensation they deserve following a reckless driving accident. Securing a proven attorney ensures that you have a strong advocate on your side.
Insurance adjusters know that a claimant with a lawyer is not going to back down easily. Plus, if an insurance company is unwilling to negotiate in good faith, we have the knowledge and resources to take them to court and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Get Help From a Baton Rouge Reckless Driving Accident Attorney
There’s never an excuse for reckless driving. If you’ve been hurt, put Tomeny Best Injury Lawyers to work for you. We know what it takes to put a value on your claim and demand compensation for every dollar you’re owed.
Let’s get started now. Call or contact us for a free consultation with a Baton Rouge reckless driving accident lawyer.