You were in a car accident and you believe the other driver was reckless. What does that mean and what can you do?
Car accidents and the inevitable car accident injuries are way too common and usually caused by negligence. Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care; simply put, the failure to act as a reasonably careful person would act under the circumstances. But what happens if the other driver behaves dangerously, such as driving at excessive speeds?
Reckless driving is driving that endangers the life of another person. By definition, it is when a person operates their vehicle with disregard for the safety of others. Arizona takes this irresponsible conduct seriously by making it a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by fines, points on your license, license suspension, and even jail. If you were injured by another person’s reckless driving, you may be entitled to compensation. The driver’s charges and convictions will not determine possible victim compensation.
The most common types of reckless driving behaviors are:
- Speeding: I know, most people do it, but when the speeding is beyond the flow of traffic, during unsafe conditions, or more than 15 mph over the speed limit, then it is unreasonably dangerous.
- Impairment by drugs or alcohol: it is never safe to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, even when under the “legal limit.”
- Distracted driving: In today’s technological world, drivers can be distracted by a large number of things from cell phones to their child’s tablet in the backseat. Distracted driving is dangerous to others because it takes the driver’s attention away from driving. The most common distractions are cell phone use, playing with in-car controls and touchscreens, eating or drinking, site seeing or looking for directions, and looking at other crashes.
Some examples of reckless driving are:
- Aggressive driving (e.g., tailgating, cutting off another car, weaving in and out of traffic, slamming your brakes for no reason).
- Speeding or racing another vehicle.
- Traveling too fast for conditions (even if below the speed limit).
- Unsafe lane changes.
- Failure to obey traffic signals (e.g., running red lights).
- Passing on the right, outside of normal traffic lanes.
- Passing on the left, over a solid lane divider.
- Impairment, including fatigue.
- Distracted driving (e.g. cell phone use, playing with in-car controls and touchscreens, eating or drinking, site seeing or looking for directions, rubbernecking).
- Passing on blind curves.
- Passing a stopped school bus with flashing lights.
- Fleeing from police.
- Running a red light, stop sign, or yield sign.
- Failure to yield right-of-way.
How do I Prove the Other Driver was Reckless Driving?
Generally, it is indefensible to drive recklessly. There are no circumstances that would make reckless driving okay. When someone else causes a crash, you want to know if they were acting dangerously because it might entitle you to additional compensation, such as punitive damages.
Proving certain types of reckless driving is easier than others. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs generally comes from the police investigation. Most other forms of reckless driving rely on witnesses; although, you might occasionally find surveillance video from nearby homes or businesses that help. Speeding is proven by physical evidence, witness statements, GPS data, and testing the vehicle’s computer.
Distracted driving is more difficult to prove because many acts of distraction are brief and do not leave evidence of their existence. It is unlikely you will be able to prove someone was playing with their radio or climate control just before a crash, but cell phone activity can be verified. Because cell phones are used for more than calls and texts, it takes a forensic examination of the phone and provider data to determine if the driver was using the phone before the crash.
Here’s an example of how a personal injury attorney tackles potential cell phone use
A mother of two is on her way home in the family car. She is slowing slightly because the traffic ahead is slowing. Unbeknownst to her, the SUV behind her is speeding and the driver is using their cell phone. Without warning, the SUV slams into the right-side rear end of the mother’s car, sending it into oncoming traffic and ultimately causing the vehicle to rollover.
The investigation starts with witness interviews. Did anyone see I the SUV driver holding a phone or staring down into their lap. This includes talking with the responding police officer. Police will inspect the area driven by the SUV and surrounding the crash site to identify any potential surveillance cameras. Next, we would subpoena the SUV driver’s cell phone provider. Cell phone records prove if the driver was texting at the time of the crash. The records will also determine whether the phone was involved in a phone call, and how active the phone was exchanging data with nearby cell towers. If these records indicate phone use, a technology expert is hired to download the phone data to demonstrate the driver was distracted and driving recklessly.
Each piece of this investigation contributes towards proving a reckless driving case.
Legal Representation for Victims of Reckless Driving Accidents in Arizona
Reckless drivers need to be held accountable for the harm they cause. If you or a loved one has been injured in a reckless driving accident, you should talk with an experience attorney. An experienced lawyer will help you learn about your legal rights. The award-winning attorneys at Gage Mathers Law Group are well recognized for their experience and effectiveness.