What is Reckless Driving?
Car accidents have many different causes in Florida, although motorists are often to blame for collisions. There are various ways in which a driver can be liable for an auto accident, from distracted driving to aggressive driving or intoxicated driving. In some circumstances, reckless driving is to blame. What is reckless driving, and how can you prove that another motorist engaged in reckless driving so that you can file a claim to seek financial compensation for your serious injuries? Our Brandon car accident lawyers can tell you more about reckless driving, and what you will need to do to be eligible to file a reckless driving claim in Florida.
Understanding Reckless Driving Under Florida Law
According to Chapter 316 of the Florida Statutes, a person can face criminal charges for reckless driving if that person “drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” When a motorist is guilty of reckless driving, that person can face monetary fines and jail time, and those penalties can be enhanced for subsequent reckless driving convictions, as well as in circumstances where the reckless driving results in serious bodily injury. In fact, when reckless driving causes serious bodily injury to another person, the reckless driver will face third-degree felony charges.
What is “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property”? The statute does not expressly provide a definition of what constitutes willful or wanton disregard. However, that language is generally understood to mean that a person acted either intentionally, or with knowledge of the high likelihood that their actions could cause injury to another person or damage to property.
When might a person’s behavior be considered willful or wanton such that it constitutes reckless driving in Florida? There are various examples, but a few might include, for instance:
- Person take shots of alcohol at a bar, acknowledges how drunk they are, and gets in their car to drive;
- Driver decides replying to an email is more important than watching the road and sets the car on cruise control while drafting an email on their handheld phone; or
- Motorist intentionally speeds through a school zone while children are crossing or approaching the road; or
- Driver deliberately tailgates another vehicle that is driving slowly to force the vehicle to change lanes or to take the exit.
How Reckless Driving Charges Impact Personal Injury Lawsuits
For purposes of a reckless driving personal injury lawsuit, which is a kind of civil lawsuit, criminal charges or a criminal conviction are separate from the civil claim. However, when a motorist is facing criminal charges for reckless driving or is convicted of reckless driving, anyone who was injured in the collision may be able to cite the criminal charges or conviction in support of personal injury damages.
Typically, to be eligible to file a car accident lawsuit in Florida, you will need to prove that you have serious enough injuries that a lawsuit is appropriate given that Florida is a no-fault state. When a reckless driver causes severe injuries, you should speak with a lawyer about filing a lawsuit.
Contact Our Brandon Reckless Driving Accident Attorneys
If you were injured in a reckless driving accident, a Brandon car accident attorney can assist you. Contact Carman and Bevington for more information.