You might drive on a local road or take Interstate 93 to get to places around Boston. You take every precaution as a driver, but anything can happen. Various actions can lead to reckless driving, and an accident can result in serious damage. Many people wonder what steps they should take after suffering an injury in a collision. In many cases, another driver caused the accident. Nevertheless, you might not know if you have a valid claim on your hands. A Boston personal injury attorney can answer questions and ease your worries.
How Does the Law Define Reckless Driving?
Each state has its own definition of reckless driving. For example, Massachusetts’ law defines reckless driving as when a person operates a vehicle recklessly. These actions can endanger the safety of the public. Drivers commit reckless driving when they hit an object or person and flee from the scene. Following an accident, drivers have to stay and provide their names, addresses, and car information if they cause an accident. Reckless driving includes the act of lending a license or learner’s permit to another person. The person then drives a vehicle with the wrong license, violating the law. Additionally, someone might knowingly write incorrect information on a license application. The state defines this act as reckless driving. Some people might think reckless driving and negligent driving constitute the same violation. However, the distinction between the two depends on the driver’s intention. The driver must have acknowledged the risks of such conduct and disregarded them to constitute reckless driving. Negligent driving means the defendant did not cause harm intentionally, but caused harm nonetheless.
Examples of Reckless Driving
One or more poor decisions can lead to cases of reckless driving. Some drivers follow too closely behind the cars in front of them. Tailgating poses the risk of a rear-end collision since the motorist does not have enough room to stop in case the car suddenly slows down. Failing to stop at a red light or stop sign constitutes another example of reckless driving. If someone else crosses the intersection, both of the drivers might struggle to avoid impact. In this situation, one or more people could suffer severe injuries. In some situations, a person makes an illegal turn. The driver could hit a passing car or pedestrian as a result. Changing lanes illegally or failing to use turn signals qualifies as reckless driving decisions. You might assume another vehicle plans to continue straight, and you might accidentally turn at the same time and cause a collision. A frequent situation of reckless driving involves when a driver becomes distracted. If drivers look at their phones for a couple of seconds, they may not have enough time to react to other cars if a situation arises. When it rains or becomes nighttime, motorists need to turn on their headlights. Headlights allow you to see oncoming traffic, and the lack of lights can pose risks. Operating a vehicle under the influence can lead to reckless driving, as well. Thousands of people get into car accidents after drinking alcohol. In Massachusetts, around 120 fatal collisions occur every year due to alcohol.
Reckless Driving Statistics
The Massachusetts Highway Safety Plan reports how drivers account for roughly 60 percent of fatalities in traffic accidents. People between the ages of 25 and 34 face a higher risk of sustaining injuries in a vehicle collision. The day of the week can influence the rate of reckless driving accidents in places like Boston. Saturday and Sunday see the highest number of crashes, and Friday sits as the third riskiest day. Drivers are more likely to speed or drive under the influence during the weekend. People tend to take public transit during the week, and they do not have to work on Saturdays and Sundays. Reckless driving accidents occur most frequently between 3 p.m. and 3 a.m. The evening rush, combined with Boston’s dense population, increases the risk of a collision. More people drive during the 12-hour window for after-school programs and nighttime activities. Boston tends to see more cases of reckless driving during July. Younger drivers don’t have to attend school, and people go around the city to celebrate the Fourth of July. Boston sees more visitors in the warmer months, increasing turnout at the city’s many tourist attractions, from Fenway Park to the Freedom Trail and Boston Commons. The international airport in Boston influences the number of cars on the streets. People face a higher risk of experiencing reckless accidents as a result. Additionally, arterial roads around the city see the highest rates of car collisions compared to other types of roadways. An arterial road is an urban road that serves to deliver traffic to and from freeways. The street sees a significant amount of motorists every day.
What Are The Penalties for Reckless Driving?
In Massachusetts, the law classifies reckless driving as a misdemeanor. If the court finds a motorist guilty, the person may receive a fine of anywhere between $20 and $200. Offenders could face a prison sentence, as well. Jail time can last anywhere from two weeks to two years. Of course, the police officer most likely will issue a ticket for driving behaviors, such as excessive speeding. Reckless driving can lead to offenders receiving five points on their driving records, since it constitutes a major traffic violation. Additional surcharge points may apply if the driver causes an accident, whether major or minor. Repeat offenses within a specific time frame can result in a license suspension, and the length of it varies. Seven chargeable events within three years mean that a person cannot drive for 60 days. Along with a suspension, people may have to take a driver retraining course as well. In some cases, the Registry of Motor Vehicles will revoke a license. For instance, three major violations within five years mean a revocation for four years. Someone would have to reapply for a license after the period ends. Additionally, an insurance company most likely will penalize a reckless driver. The person could pay an average of $1,192 more every year. Offenders could see around a 99 percent rise in insurance rates. The level of increase depends on the company you use and your driving record.
What You Should Do After an Accident?
After a reckless driving accident, you should collect information from the other driver. Details include name, driver’s license number, license plate, and contact information. You should exchange insurance details with the at-fault party as well. You or someone else should have contacted the police to report the collision. Police officers take statements and investigate the scene. They create a police report of the accident, and you can use the report to help you with your lawsuit. Under Boston law, residents need to complete a Motor Vehicle Crash Operator Report form. You need to submit the form within five days of the crash if someone sustained an injury or died. Another requirement includes sending a copy of the form to the police department if the vehicle or property damage exceeded $1,000. The report does not cost you any fees to file.
Injuries From a Reckless Driving Accident
Reckless driving can result in various types of vehicle accidents. Someone might collide with a stationary object or hit a pedestrian. Side-impact collisions, head-on accidents, and rear-end crashes can happen due to reckless behavior. No matter the type, people can get hurt. Injuries can range from minor to severe. Examples of common wounds include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Severe lacerations
- Broken bones
- Cuts and bruises
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal bleeding
Injuries from a car accident can mean an expensive medical bill. Ongoing treatment will cost you more money as well. If the incident resulted from another driver’s recklessness, you could seek compensation for any damages.
When Should You File A Reckless Driving Claim?
Injured individuals have three years from the date of the accident to file a car accident lawsuit, a deadline known as the statute of limitations. You should obviously focus your efforts on treating any serious injuries, but you do not want to wait too long to file a claim. Generally, you lose the ability to obtain compensation after the deadline passes. If someone passed away because of a reckless driving accident, you would file a wrongful death lawsuit. Individuals who wish to file a wrongful death claim have three years from the date of the decedent’s death. A lawyer can ensure the timely filing of your claim while you focus on managing personal affairs. You should hire a reckless driving accident attorney soon after the incident to prevent any missed deadlines.
Common Insurance Company Tactics
The insurance company likely will contact you during the claims process. The agent may sound friendly, but don’t think that the insurance company has your best interest in mind. Many insurers do not like paying a lot of money in compensation. As a result, they will try to minimize the amount of money they pay out in claims. The insurance company might try several tactics to lower the compensation. Some insurers contact accident victims and convince them to make a recorded statement. Insurance companies want these statements in hopes that they can use them against claimants. The insurance company may offer you an initial settlement that will rarely reflect the true value of your case. The company may call you soon after the accident in hopes that you accept the offer. The company knows that you likely feel stressed and wants to use this against you. The insurance company will also call before you contact a lawyer to determine the full extent of your injuries. A representative may try to intimidate you into accepting the offer and discourage you from retaining an attorney. The adjuster could downplay the severity of the accident and your injuries. Alternatively, the insurer could deny liability altogether. If your case has a high value, the insurance company may put more effort into its legal defense. The insurance company may also try to employ the tactic of ignoring you for as long as possible. The company may not respond to your calls or emails in hopes you give up on your case. The company might remain unresponsive until you feel too frustrated to demand a higher settlement. You should get the help of a lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney knows the common strategies that insurance companies use. Your attorney can talk to the representative, so you can focus on other tasks. Your lawyer can negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf.
What Damages Can You Recover?
In a reckless driving lawsuit, you can recover damages for medical expenses. The expenses include hospital visits and treatment costs. The court may consider future surgery, therapy, and medication costs into the total compensation. The amount can increase based on the severity of injuries. You can get reimbursement for property damage as well. You can receive money for the repair or replacement of your vehicle. Additionally, other pieces of damaged property inside the car can influence your settlement. You should also consider your lost wages when calculating how much compensation to pursue. This includes all of the time during which you could not work due to your recovery. The settlement can include future income you anticipate missing out on as well. The court may calculate pain and suffering when awarding damages. Pain and suffering refers to the physical and emotional pain during and after the accident. Pain and suffering may prove more difficult to calculate as lost wages. The loss of companionship and enjoyment can impact reimbursement, as well. A lawyer will investigate the details of the accident and your injuries. Your lawyer can give you an estimate of what the other party owes you.
How Long Does a Reckless Driving Lawsuit Take?
On average, a lawsuit for a reckless driving accident could take over a year to three years to complete. Some cases last longer, while others finish sooner. The complexity of the case can influence the timeline. After filing the car accident claim, the court may take 30 to 60 days to serve the defendant. The at-fault party has 30 days to file a response. The discovery stage could take time. Attorneys on both sides will take plenty of time to prepare for depositions. You might need to have a doctor perform examinations, as well. Most cases end in a settlement, but your case may proceed to trial. Your lawsuit process may also take longer if your case goes to trial after a failed mediation. Contact a Boston car accident attorney today to discuss your Boston reckless driving accident case.