Reckless driving is a problem for all drivers. When one person decides to drive recklessly, they put all other people on the road at risk of serious injury or even death.
Reckless driving accidents can be more severe than typical car accidents because of the nature of the activities involved. Those who decide to drive recklessly in Texas can be subject to both criminal and civil penalties for their behavior.
What Is Reckless Driving?
According to Texas Transportation Code § 545.401, reckless driving is when a person drives a vehicle with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of people or property.
Although there are possible criminal penalties for reckless driving in Texas, you may also be able to bring an injury claim against a reckless driver if you are hurt because of their actions.
What does willful or wanton mean for reckless driving?
In reckless driving cases, there is a requirement that the behavior is either willful or wanton. For a behavior to be considered reckless driving, it is not enough that the person was negligent. The person must also be aware that their driving is likely to cause harm.
Reckless driving is making a conscious decision to drive in a way that you know may cause harm to others. Negligent driving means driving in a way that fails to use the same amount of caution a reasonable person would in the same conditions and circumstances.
What are examples of reckless driving?
Some common forms of reckless driving in Texas include:
- Speeding – Driving too fast for the conditions on the road, whether it is driving double the speed limit or driving 15 miles per hour over the speed limit when weather conditions make it unsafe to do so both amount to reckless driving.
- Tailgating – Driving too close to the vehicle in front of you creates a higher risk of a rear-end collision than if a driver left the appropriate amount of space between the two cars.
- Erratic lane changes – Changing lanes suddenly creates an unreasonable risk of an accident because other drivers cannot predict the actions of the driver changing lanes. Unpredictable lane changes usually also involve speeding and failure to signal before changing lanes, creating an even higher risk of an accident.
- Driving while intoxicated – When a driver gets behind the wheel of a vehicle while intoxicated on drugs or alcohol, every person on the roadway is in danger. All drivers know that this is illegal and excessively dangerous behavior.
- Racing – When drivers decide to race on streets meant for the use of all drivers, they put themselves and all other drivers on the road at risk of getting hurt in an accident. Racing usually involves going well over the speed limit in conditions not suitable for driving that fast.
- Distracted driving – All drivers know that the rules of the road require them to be attentive and give all focus to driving safely. When drivers decide to text and drive, eat and drive, put on makeup while driving, or do any other activity while driving, this creates an increased risk for others.
- Road rage – When someone drives in an overly aggressive way, it can leave other drivers scared and cause them to make bad driving decisions, putting others in danger. Road rage also usually comes with speeding, ignoring traffic signs and signals, excessive lane changes, and tailgating.
- Passing a school bus – All drivers are required to stop for school busses with their stop signs out and flashing lights on to make sure the children on the bus can cross safely. Passing a bus when it is unloading kids is dangerous and puts children in danger of getting hurt or killed.
These are just some examples of reckless driving, but any driving behavior that creates an unreasonable risk of harm to others amounts to reckless driving.
Can I sue someone for reckless driving in Texas?
Texas allows victims of accidents to recover compensation for their injuries. So if you get hurt in an accident because someone else was driving recklessly, you may be able to sue for compensation.
Depending on the facts of your accident, you may be entitled to recover compensation from the person who is at fault for the accident.
Who decides if someone is driving recklessly?
Generally, law enforcement officers make the call as to whether a specific behavior constitutes reckless driving. As a result, police officers have a great deal of discretion when determining if a particular behavior is considered reckless driving.
However, if a police officer feels you put others at an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death, they will usually classify the behavior like reckless driving.
How do I prove reckless driving in my car accident case?
Proving reckless behavior means providing evidence that the defendant knew what they were doing created a risk of unreasonable danger to others. In a civil case, the burden of proof is a preponderance of the evidence, which means your version of events is more likely true than not. It is much less stringent than what criminal cases require.
In most instances of reckless driving, like speeding, driving while intoxicated, racing, or passing a stopped school bus, it is common knowledge that the behavior is dangerous and likely to cause harm. However, what you need to prove another person’s reckless driving was the cause of your injuries depends on the specific facts of your case.
Can a Texas injury lawyer help me after a reckless driving accident?
If a reckless driving accident hurts you or a loved one, working with a lawyer can help you build a strong compensation case. A Brownsville, TX car accident lawyer knows what you will need to make a strong claim for compensation against a reckless driver.
You may be entitled to recover a range of damages for your injuries, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. Your lawyer can help you through the process to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Contact a personal injury attorney today for more information.