When you get into a car accident, reckless driving and negligence are used when explaining who was at fault. Most people believe that the two are the same and end up being used in the same context. However, the two are actually very different and can change the outcome or compensation of a lawsuit.
According to Cornell Law School, negligence is the failure to behave with reasonable care. Negligence assumes that the person causing the accident never intended to cause the accident. In a car accident, negligence is assumed whenever a driver does not obey the rules of the road or fail to maintain their car. For example, if a driver were not maintaining their car’s alignment, and that misalignment causes them to hit another car, that would be considered negligence. Furthermore, negligence is also used whenever a car collides into a pedestrian. Because negligence is based on failure to act with reasonable care, it is a little difficult to prove and in a lawsuit it would be considered a civil case. To avoid negligent driving, always be mindful of how you are driving as well as your surroundings.
Reckless driving is a more serious tort that involves a deliberate disregard of safety, meaning it is not only careless but also intentional. For example, someone who has caused an accident by speeding or drunk driving would be considered reckless driving as the person knows the dangers of speeding and drunk driving.
Another case of reckless driving would be road rage. Road rage typically occurs in situations of stress and drivers start to act more aggressive than they usually do. We naturally see more road rage occur in areas of higher traffic such as big cities. Whenever someone is in road rage, people tend to yell at another driver or start tailgating. Sometimes, this could lead to confrontation or other offensive behaviors. To avoid road rage, avoid making eye contact or making gestures with other drivers as an angry driver may react poorly due to stress.
How Does The Difference Change Your Accident Case?
After an accident, you have the right to file a lawsuit to seek compensation. Usually, when filing for a lawsuit, you need to keep documents and statements relating to the accident to keep track of what happened with evidence to determine who is at-fault. When it comes to determining who is at fault, the difference between negligence and reckless driving can be an important factor.
If the accident is considered negligence, the consequences for it would be monetary damages for medical bills, property damage, and other related expenses. In the event the accident is considered reckless, the driver may be charged criminal charges with punitive damages or possibly even jail time. A reckless accident would be assumed if the driver has been completely strayed from what could be considered reasonable care. As such, it is easier to prove whenever someone has committed reckless driving than it would be to prove negligence.
Lastly, it is important to remember that both negligence and reckless driving can overlap. A driver may be deemed both negligent and reckless if they were not paying attention to the road due to using their phones or other activities and are aware that whatever activity they were doing was unsafe.