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Reckless driving can lead to tragic, and sometimes fatal, accidents. San Diego’s busy streets and growing population make it prone to serious motor vehicle accidents, often caused by one or more drivers’ reckless behaviors.
If you were in an accident with a reckless driver, you should always seek medical attention, even if you believe your injuries are minor. You should also seek legal representation to ensure that you recover compensation for the full cost of your injuries. Your wreck may involve extenuating circumstances, including third parties who caused the accident, such as company owners, other vehicles, dispatchers, and more. Even vehicle manufacturers could share in the responsibility of a reckless driving accident if a car part failed and caused an accident.
Contact an experienced San Diego reckless driving accident lawyer today to determine your eligibility to pursue a legal claim.
In a recent year, San Diego saw 5,607 accidents with severe or fatal injuries. Of those, 791 were speed-related, and 402 were hit and run accidents, and those are just two types of reckless driving. With a population of over 1.4 million, the risk of injuring or killing someone with reckless driving is relatively high in San Diego.
Nationwide, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 87 percent of the drivers across the United States drive recklessly, according to iDriveSafely. These statistics are alarming but not necessarily surprising.
People who drive recklessly do not consider the safety of others.
Reckless driving behaviors include:
The above is just a partial list of reckless driving behaviors. Reckless drivers not only face the potential for civil lawsuits, but such drivers may also face criminal penalties, including fines and jail time.
California law defines reckless driving as driving in such a manner that the reckless driver has a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. In addition to facing a lawsuit from the injured person, the reckless driver also faces the potential for criminal prosecution.
Those who drive recklessly could face up to 90 days in jail, but not less than five days in jail, and/or a fine of up to $1,000, but not less than $145. If the reckless driver does not injure another person, the driver will face a misdemeanor charge.
If the reckless driver injures someone, the driver faces additional charges for the criminal act of reckless driving. The reckless driver faces up to six months in jail for bodily injury, but not less than 30 days. The reckless driver also faces a fine of at least $220, but not more than $1,000. The court can hand down both punishments if it so chooses.
Even if the state prosecutes and convicts the reckless driver criminally, you can still settle with the driver’s insurance company or sue the driver for damages in civil lawsuit. This does not constitute double jeopardy, because the reckless driver is facing charges in two different courts—the criminal court and the civil court.
Even if the court sentences the reckless driver to time in jail or prison, you can still collect damages from the driver’s insurance company. If you have to sue the driver in addition to his or her insurance company, you might have to wait until the reckless driver finishes his or her jail sentence to collect.
Reckless driving often involves high speed, passing on blind curves, driving under the influence, going around railroad barriers, speeding excessively, ignoring stop signs and red lights, quickly changing lanes, and passing school busses while loading and unloading students.
People might drive recklessly because they are upset, mad, just do not care, or are running from the police. Reckless drivers might be in a hurry because they woke up late and do not want to be late to work or an appointment, or they might be driving home after a night out on the town and had a little too much to drink. Truck drivers could be tired from driving all day or night if they broke the hours-of-service regulations. Whatever the reason for the reckless driving, the driver breached the general duty of care to drive safely and must face the consequences.
When someone hits you blindly or at a high rate of speed, the risk of catastrophic injuries or death is heightened. Also, the size of the vehicle that hits you contributes to the severity of the resulting injuries.
The severity of injuries depends on the circumstances of a wreck. Speed, the size of the vehicle, how the vehicle hits you, and other factors all play a part in the injuries you receive. Injuries could range from a few scratches and bruises to death.
Common injuries include:
You could also suffer from secondary injuries, especially if you have underlying conditions, such as diabetes or immunodeficiencies, or are taking medications or treatments that lower your immunity. Even wounds created by doctors to repair accident injuries, such as the wound to repair a compound fracture or internal injuries, could become infected.
Some underlying conditions and treatments cause you to recover much slower, which significantly increases the risk of infection. Even severe burns could become infected if they take longer to heal, requiring additional care, including debridement.
Your accident injuries could also exacerbate pre-existing conditions. In both cases, the at-fault driver would also be responsible for the medical expenses and pain and suffering these secondary injuries cause.
The at-fault driver is responsible for these extra injuries because you would not have suffered through them but for the at-fault driver’s actions or inactions.
You can recover two types of compensatory damages, in addition to possibly recovering punitive damages after an accident in San Diego. Economic damages are compensation for expenses you have incurred or will incur in the future as a result of the injuries you sustained, lost wages, or other expenses incurred. Non-economic damages compensate you for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and other emotional injuries, which have a subjective value but no tangible expense. The court orders both damages in an attempt to make you whole again. If the court orders punitive damages, it is a punishment for the defendant’s grossly negligent or intentional behavior that violated the duty the defendant had to keep others safe from his or her actions or inactions.
Special damages, often referred to as economic damages, include:
Non-economic damages can include:
Sometimes reckless driving accidents involve more than one vehicle. Sorting out who is responsible for your injuries is often complex, especially if your accident involved a commercial vehicle. A reckless driver could wreck into another vehicle, pushing the other vehicle into you.
The second vehicle might not share in any responsibility for your injuries, but the reckless driver could have responsibility for your injuries and the other driver’s injuries. A San Diego reckless driving attorney can investigate to find all of the liable parties in your case.
On the other hand, if the second driver was antagonizing a reckless driver, and they both share the responsibility for causing the accident, you could recover damages from both drivers based on their percentage of fault.
If commercial vehicle drivers drive recklessly, their employers could share liability for your injuries. For example, suppose a dispatcher tells a driver that he or she has to deliver a load within six hours, knowing that it takes nine hours, and also insinuates that the driver’s job is on the line. In that case, the dispatcher could face penalties for encouraging a driver to break the federal hours-of-service regulations.
Your reckless driving accident attorney in San Diego will investigate the case to learn why a person was driving recklessly and add others who could share in the responsibility for your injuries.
Furthermore, insurance companies are in the business to make money and often attempt to minimize. Every claim that an insurance company pays out reduces its profits. Insurance companies will try anything to deny your claim or offer you a low settlement. They have tricks to do this, such as twisting your words and using them against you. This is where an attorney can help protect your rights.
You can notify an insurance company of an accident, but never give more than your contact information, the date and location of the accident, and your attorney’s contact information. If possible, let your attorney provide the insurance company a statement on your behalf.
If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a San Diego reckless driving accident, contact an experienced reckless driving attorney at Gomez Trial Attorneys today for a free case evaluation.
John Gomez founded the firm alone in 2005. Today, John acts as President and Lead Trial Attorney. He has been voted by his peers as a top ten San Diego litigator in three separate fields: Personal Injury, Insurance and Corporate Litigation. Since 2000, he has recovered over $800 million in settlements and verdicts for his clients with more than 160 separate recoveries of one million dollars or more. A prolific trial lawyer, John has tried to jury verdict more than 60 separate cases.
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