Reckless driving is a term most road users are conversant with, but not everyone knows what it entails. For instance, what does it mean? Will a person face a criminal charge for driving recklessly, or will they only face civil action. As a car accident victim, can you recover damages from a reckless driver, and if yes, what does it cover?
Our Atlanta car accident lawyers at The Weinstein Firm will provide answers to these questions in this article. If you are the victim of an accident caused by a reckless driver, contact our law office immediately to learn your legal options and how we can help you get justice.
What Is Reckless Driving Under Georgia Law?
Under O.C.G.A 40-6-390 reckless driving is when a driver operates a motor vehicle in “reckless disregard” for the safety of persons or property. Reckless driving is a crime considered to be a misdemeanor offense. Upon conviction, the reckless driver faces a fine not exceeding $1,000 or imprisonment, not exceeding 12 months, or both fine and imprisonment.
The facts of the case and the driver’s conduct after the arrest determine the severity of their punishment. Also, the law does not prevent or limit the power of the court to stay or suspend the execution of the sentence on the reckless driver or place them on probation. When the reckless driver causes an accident that leads to the death of another person, the offense goes from being a misdemeanor to a felony.
The preceding is because of O.C.G.A 40-6-393 — homicide by vehicle, O.C.G.A 40-60-394 — serious injury by vehicle, and O.C.G.A 40-6-391.1 — feticide by vehicle requires a “serious motor vehicle accident” to be committed before felony charges can be part of a driver’s indictment. Thus, here, the reckless driver would face a lengthier punishment than that of the misdemeanor offense.
Is Reckless Driving Different From Aggressive Driving?
Under O.C.G.A 40-6-397 aggressive driving happens when a driver operates a motor vehicle with the intent of annoying, harassing, molesting, intimidating, injuring, or obstructing another person. Aggressive driving is considered a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature. The penalties for aggressive driving include imprisonment and fines, and if the person is below 21 years, suspension of all driving privileges.
The difference between aggressive driving and reckless driving is intent. Although a reckless driver acts in a way that endangers their lives and other road users, it is not an intentional act. On the other hand, an aggressive driver behaves dangerously with the sole intention of harassing another driver. An excellent example of this is road rage.
Can a Reckless Driver Face a Civil Action?
The simple answer is yes. Just because a reckless driver gets indicted and faces a criminal charge does not mean they cannot face civil action. Remember that Georgia’s fault-based compensation system allows victims to file a compensation claim against the fault party in an accident. So, first, you can bring an insurance claim for economic and non-economic damages.
If the fault party’s insurance carrier fails to honor your claim, offers you a low sum, or drags out the case, you can file a personal injury lawsuit. You must commence the lawsuit within the two-year period for filing personal injury cases in Georgia. Note that insurance companies may want to drag out negotiations so that your case becomes statute-barred.
They are aware that if the two-year period elapses, you have no choice but to accept the lowball settlement offer. The alternative is to walk away empty-handed. Also, a lawsuit is the way to go if you want to get punitive damages for gross negligence. However, proving gross negligence is tricky, so you need the expertise of an Atlanta car accident lawyer.
If the reckless driving accident leads to the death of a victim, their legal beneficiaries will commence a wrongful death action against the reckless driver. Here, the beneficiaries will also get economic and non-economic damages. Find out more about this from our car accident attorneys.
Were You Involved in a Reckless Driving Accident? Contact The Weinstein Firm Today!
When an accident occurs due to another person’s recklessness, you deserve to get compensated. This is because traffic accidents have both physical, mental, and financial implications. At The Weinstein Firm, our auto accident lawyers have helped several injury clients get thousands to millions of dollars in compensation. We can do the same for you. So contact us today for a free consultation with one of our attorneys.