Reckless Driving Car Accidents
Around Miami, examples of reckless driving are everywhere. From texting while driving to swerving in and out of lanes at high rates of speed, it’s no wonder that Miami-Dade County has some of the most dangerous roads in the country. When a reckless driver causes an accident, that person can be held responsible for his or her actions both in the criminal and the civil court systems. The experienced Miami reckless driving car accident attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz help injured people get justice and seek compensation after an accident caused by someone else’s wrongdoing.What is Reckless Driving?
Florida defines reckless driving as driving in a manner that shows willful or wanton disregard for the safety of people or property. A driver who is reckless knows that his or her conduct is dangerous and engages in it anyway. In comparison, a careless driver may make mistakes while driving that endanger other people, but is not purposefully putting other people in harm’s way.
It is up to a judge or jury to ultimately decide which types of offenses constitute reckless driving. However, some types of conduct are so dangerous that they are almost always considered reckless. For example, driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs or alcohol is so dangerous that it almost always endangers people or property. Similarly, driving 20 to 30 miles over the speed limit is usually grounds for a reckless driving ticket or arrest.
Reckless driving is a criminal offense and first-time offenders can be punished with fines of up to $500 and 90 days in jail. If the reckless driver causes an accident that hurts someone, the driver may face up to a year in jail. If a reckless driver causes a serious injury or kills someone, the penalties can be even higher.How Does Reckless Driving Affect a Lawsuit?
A person who causes an injury or death while engaging in reckless driving will probably face both a criminal trial and a civil lawsuit. While both cases may be based on the same conduct, the civil personal injury lawsuit is not dependent on the results of the criminal case. On the criminal side, the state attorney’s office decides whether to pursue criminal charges, whereas a personal injury lawsuit is filed in civil court by an injured person or his or her surviving family members.
If a person is found guilty of reckless driving in a criminal court case, this does not mean that he or she is automatically found negligent in a civil lawsuit. Likewise, a person who is found innocent of reckless driving in criminal court can still be held negligent and responsible for injuries in a personal injury lawsuit. The two systems operate independently of each other and have different standards of proof.
During a civil lawsuit, the injured person will only have to prove that the reckless driver was negligent, meaning that he or she had a duty to drive carefully and breached that duty which caused an injury. This is a much lower standard than the criminal court uses, which means that it is easier to prove negligence in civil court than it is to prove guilt in a criminal case.
While being found negligent in civil court will not result in the reckless driver being sentenced to jail time, proving that a driver was reckless during a personal injury lawsuit has other benefits. In some cases, drivers whose conduct is extraordinarily reckless can be forced to pay punitive damages to the people who were injured. These damages go above and beyond the amount of compensation needed to cover things like medical expenses or lost wages; these damages are meant solely to punish the person for his or her reckless behavior.Hold Reckless Drivers Accountable
When a person willingly endangers others on the road and causes an injury or death, he or she should be held accountable for those actions. While an injured person may not be able to force prosecutors to bring a criminal case against the driver, injured people and their families can get justice against a reckless driver in civil court.
The Miami reckless driving car accident lawyers at Gerson & Schwartz understand the pain that reckless drivers cause innocent people, and will work to help you get all the types of compensation that you deserve after an accident. To schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help, contact our office today by calling (877) 475-2905.