Auto accidents can occur for many different reasons, and the potential for serious injury is always there. Negligence is a common cause. Examples include forgetting to check the mirrors before changing lanes or daydreaming instead of focusing on the road. However, when you suffer an injury in an accident caused by a reckless driver, the devastation of the damages can be much more frustrating. Unfortunately, reckless driving is a serious problem in Manhattan, but personal injury law provides you with a legal route to recover compensation for the losses you suffered.
How Does the Law Define Reckless Driving?
Reckless driving is a criminal act in New York. The at-fault party in a reckless driving accident will likely face misdemeanor charges in addition to the civil case should you decide to file a lawsuit to recover damages. The actual term “reckless” is relative in the legal system. It is used case-by-case to define intentional behavior on the road that could result in serious injury to other drivers. Additionally, reckless driving does not need to result in an accident for the driver to face criminal charges. However, if it does, the responsible party could face significantly more financial repercussions in damages than a negligent driver would.
Examples of Reckless Driving
There is no comprehensive list of behaviors that define reckless driving. However, some examples may include:
- Distracted driving. Engaging in activities that divert manual and cognitive attention away from the road and the wheel of the vehicle is distracted driving. This can include eating, applying makeup, adjusting the radio, searching for something in the car, or any other activity that inhibits the ability to react to the road efficiently.
- Deliberate traffic signal violations. Running stop signs, speeding through traffic lights, running a red light, and making an illegal turn at a traffic light are all examples of traffic signal violations.
- Driving while impaired. Driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or other intoxicants constitutes impaired driving. This is often one of the top examples of reckless driving. Driving while intoxicated significantly slows the driver’s reaction time, making them more likely to cause an accident.
- Driving while fatigued. Driving while fatigued can be just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. This is often an issue with truck drivers, who may go beyond their allotted hours of service in an effort to get to their destinations sooner.
- Tailgating. Tailgating is the number one cause of rear-end collisions. It occurs when one driver follows another driver too closely from the rear. It is especially dangerous at high speed because it significantly decreases the space and time needed to decelerate.
- Carrying too many passengers. Having more people in the vehicle than the size of the vehicle permits endangers the lives of everyone in the event of an accident. Additionally, it violates seatbelt safety laws when there are not enough seatbelts to accommodate everyone in the car.
- Abrupt lane changes. Changing lanes without proper signaling or checking mirrors gives other drivers no time to react. This is particularly dangerous for motorcyclists.
- Excessive speeding. New York state considers driving at any speed more than 30 miles per hour over the posted speed limit reckless. It hinders the driver’s ability to stop and can easily result in loss of control. Accidents involving excessive speeding typically cause the most substantial damages.
- Street racing. Auto racing is only legal within the confines of a regulated track with vehicles that meet the safety requirements for racing. On the street, racing requires excessive speeding above the posted speed limit and violates the duty of care drivers owe to one another on the road.
- Passing pedestrians too closely. Violations of crosswalk laws can result in dangerous circumstances for pedestrians. Additionally, passing pedestrians too closely to the sidewalk can result in a deadly accident.
- Failing to merge for police. When officers pull over another vehicle on a multi-lane road, the passing cars must merge to avoid potentially hitting them.
- Driving off-road. Driving off-road in an area heavy with pedestrian traffic is especially dangerous.
A reckless driving charge often includes multiple reckless actions. For example, driving under the influence and speeding or speeding and driving by pedestrians too closely are examples of more than one reckless behavior occurring simultaneously. If you suffered an injury due to any of these behaviors or have questions about the specific details of your accident, a Manhattan reckless driving accident lawyer can help you understand the damages in your case and what compensation is available to you.
What Compensation Can You Receive From a Reckless Driving Accident?
When you file a personal injury lawsuit in Manhattan, your attorney will help you understand the damages you can claim. Damages refer to your losses, typically in two forms: economic compensatory and non-economic compensatory damages. Additionally, the court may deem it necessary to punish the defendant in your case by requiring punitive damages.
Economic Compensatory Damages
Economic compensatory damages refer to the specific losses you suffered due to your accident and injuries. These typically have tangible evidence you can easily access. Some common examples include:
- The medical bills you collected from treatment, including the cost of an ambulance ride, emergency room visit, hospital stays, doctor visits, medications, surgeries, rehabilitative therapy, and necessary medical devices
- The income you lost as a result of missing work or losing your ability to perform the job you had prior to the accident
- The cost of repairing or replacing the vehicle damaged in the accident
- The cost of any at-home assistance you need during recovery or for the long-term, such as childcare
One benefit of hiring an attorney is they will collect the medical bills, receipts, pay stubs, tax returns, and any other evidence necessary to prove these damages.
Non-Economic Compensatory Damages
Non-economic damages refer to the psychological losses you suffered. They are less easily quantified but just as significant as the economic losses. These include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional anguish
- Resulting anxiety or depression disorders
- Your loss of the ability to enjoy life
- Disability or disfigurement caused by your injuries
Proving non-economic damages is more complex than economic damages. Your attorney may use a variety of evidence, including expert testimony, your written statement about how the accident and your injuries affected your life, and testimonies from people who are a part of your daily life.
Punitive damages are typically rare in auto accident cases. However, if the court decides the reckless drivers should face financial punishment for their actions, they may require them to pay a substantial amount, and New York state does not place a cap on punitive damages.
How Can a Manhattan Reckless Driving Accident Lawyer Help Your Case?
Auto accident cases can be complex. Many elements, such as paperwork and evidence collection, can be cumbersome and frustrating for someone without professional legal experience, especially if you face a lengthy injury recovery process. At Cellino Law, our team of experienced reckless driving accident lawyers will guide you through the legal process and advise you of your rights. In your initial consultation, you have the chance to discuss the details of your accident in confidence and ask the legal questions you have about your right to compensation. Contact us today to set up your free consultation with a Manhattan reckless driving accident lawyer. We are prepared to assist you right away.