Things to Know If You Were Injured By a Reckless Driver

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by Tyler Hall, Esq.

What to Know About Being Injured By a Reckless Driver

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reckless or aggressive driving plays a role in more than half of all fatal car accidents. If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by a reckless driver, it is critical to know your rights and what you can do to protect them.

What Behaviors Are Considered Reckless Driving?

Reckless driving constitutes any behavior on the road that demonstrates a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of other road users. This can include:

  • Speeding — This is by far the most common form of reckless driving. It is also one of the most dangerous, as speeding increases both the likelihood and severity of an accident. Speeding in a reckless driving context is typically defined as driving too fast for conditions.
  • Tailgating — Following another vehicle too closely is not only rude but also dangerous. If a driver has to brake suddenly, the person tailgating them could rear-end their vehicle, causing serious injuries.
  • Weaving in and out of traffic — This includes cutting off other drivers, changing lanes without signaling, and generally driving in a way that is unpredictable and dangerous.
  • Running red lights or stop signs — This is a blatant disregard for the rules of the road and can easily lead to a collision.
  • Driving on the shoulder — Driving on the shoulder is only allowed in certain circumstances, such as when pulling over to the side of the road. Otherwise, it can be extremely hazardous to other drivers.
  • Lane splitting — This is when a motorcyclist drives between two lanes of traffic, which is illegal in most states and is frowned upon in New Jersey. It can be very dangerous to other motorists as it increases the risk of a collision.
  • Impaired driving — Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not only illegal but also incredibly dangerous. Impaired drivers are much more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle accident.

Common Types of Reckless Driving-Related Injuries

Due to the dangerous nature of reckless driving, it is not surprising that serious injuries often result. Some of the most common ones caused by this type of behavior include:

  • Head injuries — Due to the high speeds involved, head injuries are some of the most common types of injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents caused by reckless driving. These can range from concussions to traumatic brain injuries.
  • Neck and back injuries — Whiplash is a common neck injury that can occur in car accidents. It is caused by the sudden jerking of the head, which can damage the muscles, ligaments, and vertebrae in the neck. Back injuries such as herniated discs are also common, particularly in rear-end collisions.
  • Spinal cord injuries — Spinal cord injuries can be extremely serious, leading to paralysis or other permanent disabilities.
  • Broken bones — Broken bones are also common in motor vehicle accidents, particularly in high-speed collisions.
  • Internal bleeding — Internal bleeding is a serious condition that can occur when organs are damaged in a motor vehicle accident.

Thoroughly understanding the extent of your injuries is essential to improve your odds of obtaining maximum compensation. An experienced car accident lawyer may help you do this.

Damages Commonly Awarded for Reckless Driving Accidents

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by a reckless driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Common damages include:

  • Medical expenses — You may recover both past and future medical expenses related to your injuries, including visits to your doctor, stays in the hospital, surgical procedures, and rehabilitation.
  • Lost wages — If you have had to miss work as a result of your injuries, you may be able to recover your lost wages.
  • Pain and suffering — You might also recover damages for the emotional and physical pain and suffering you experienced because of your injuries.

In some cases, punitive damages may also be awarded. These are designed to punish the reckless driver for their actions and deter others from driving in a similarly dangerous manner.

What to Do If You Are Injured by a Reckless Driver

There are certain steps you should take to protect your rights and improve your chances of receiving compensation. Keep these tips in mind after a car accident caused by a reckless driver:

1. Report the accident to the police — This creates an official record of the accident, which can be used as evidence in your case.

2. Get medical attention — Even if you don’t think you are seriously injured, it is important to get checked out by a medical professional. Some injuries, such as concussions or whiplash, may not be immediately apparent.

3. Gather evidence — If possible, take photos of the accident scene and get the contact information of any witnesses.

4. Consult with a motor vehicle accident lawyer — An experienced lawyer may help you understand your rights and options and pursue the full compensation you need to move forward.

How Liability Is Determined for Reckless Driving Accidents

In motor vehicle accident cases, liability is determined by who was at fault. However, in some states such as New Jersey, a concept known as comparative negligence may apply. Under this rule, even if you were partially at fault for the accident, you may still recover damages as long as you were no more than 50 percent at fault.

For example, let’s say you were rear-ended by a reckless driver while stopped at a red light. In this scenario, the other driver is determined to be 80% at fault for the accident. Because you were stopped at a red light that had just turned green, the court may find that you are 20% at fault. In this case, you would still be eligible to recover damages.

Steps of a Reckless Driving Injury Lawsuit

If you decide to file a motor vehicle accident lawsuit, your lawyer may take the following steps:

1. Investigate the accident — This involves speaking with witnesses, reviewing police reports, and analyzing any other evidence related to the accident.

2. Gather evidence — Your lawyer may collect evidence to support your claim, including medical records, photos of the accident scene, and eyewitness testimony.

3. File a complaint — Your lawyer may file a complaint, which is the first step in initiating a personal injury lawsuit.

4. Engage in discovery — During discovery, both sides exchange information and evidence. This may involve depositions, interrogatories, and requests for documents.

5. Prepare for trial — If your case does not settle during discovery, your lawyer may then prepare for trial. This involves selecting a jury, making opening and closing statements, and presenting evidence.

Reckless driving is a serious problem on our roads, and those who engage in this behavior should be held accountable for the injuries they cause. If you have been injured in a New Jersey motor vehicle accident caused by a reckless driver, a motor vehicle accident lawyer at Rebenack Aronow & Mascolo, L.L.P., may help you pursue compensation for your losses. Contact our New Brunswick or Somerville office today at 732-394-1549 for a case review.

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To schedule a confidential consultation, contact us online or call our offices, in New Brunswick at (732) 247-3600, in Somerville at (908) 448-2560, or in Freehold at (732) 828-2234.

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