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The Difference Between Negligent and Reckless Driving

Posted on July 29, 2021 Car Accidents
A driver has a responsibility to operate a motor vehicle safely and prudently. This means in accordance with traffic laws and local roadway rules. Unfortunately, many drivers endanger the lives of others by behaving negligently or recklessly behind the wheel. Negligence and recklessness are two different things that can result in different outcomes for your car accident lawsuit. Knowing the difference can help you understand your legal rights.

What Is Negligent Driving?

Negligence is the failure to use an acceptable or appropriate amount of care, resulting in harm or injury to others. If a driver is negligent, it means he or she is operating a vehicle without using reasonable care. Negligence does not necessarily mean an intentional wrongdoing or error; it can be a careless or unintentional mistake, as well. The main elements of negligence are that someone owed another person a duty of care and breached this duty. Examples of driver negligence include:
  • Failing to yield to another driver or pedestrian
  • Falling asleep behind the wheel
  • Turning or changing lanes without a blinker
  • Merging on top of another driver
  • Failing to pay attention to the road
It is possible to hold a driver liable (financially responsible) even if the driver did not intend to make a mistake. Texas is a fault-based insurance state, meaning that the driver or party at fault for causing a car accident will be liable. If driver negligence causes a car accident, therefore, the driver’s auto insurance policy will pay for damages, or a victim’s financial losses.   Negligent VS  Reckless Driving  

What Is Reckless Driving?

Reckless driving occurs when a driver displays a blatant or wanton disregard for the safety of others. Reckless driving means that a driver knows (or reasonably should know) that his or her actions are dangerous and could put others at risk, but does them anyway. A reckless driver takes unnecessary risks behind the wheel when the chances of a collision or injuries are high. Many different types of reckless driving can lead to serious car accidents, including:
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Speeding or racing
  • Weaving in and out of traffic
  • Texting and driving
  • Tailgating
  • Road-rage driving
  • Driving without headlights
  • Running red lights or stop signs
Reckless driving is a crime in Texas. It is a misdemeanor offense that can result in a fine of up to $200 and/or 30 days in jail. It is also a civil tort, or wrongdoing, This can make the reckless driver civilly liable for the wreck. If you believe that the driver that crashed into you was guilty of reckless driving, call the police. The police can investigate the wreck and may issue a citation against the other driver for reckless driving. You can use the ticket as evidence against the driver later.

How Reckless vs. Negligent Driving Can Affect Your Car Accident Case

As the victim of a car accident caused by another driver in Texas, you may be eligible for financial compensation if the driver was negligent or reckless. The amount of compensation available may change depending on the driver’s behaviors. In Texas, if a driver’s actions reach the level of recklessness, a judge may decide to award the plaintiff with punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. Punitive damages are an award given to a plaintiff as a way of punishing the defendant for particularly wrongful acts. If a reckless driver caused your car accident in Dallas, therefore, you may be eligible for greater financial compensation than if the driver only reached the level of negligence. In either case, however, you may be able to recover compensation for your property repairs, hospital bills, lost wages and other losses. If you were injured in a car accident caused by another driver, work with an attorney to determine if that driver was negligent or reckless. A Dallas car accident attorney can investigate your crash, help you determine fault and pursue maximum financial compensation on your behalf.