An Atlanta car accident lawyer will pay specific attention to the way a client describes the other driver’s actions just before the accident. They will also look at the accident report and other documents to find out if the at-fault driver was charged with reckless driving.
While this may not seem an important factor for you, an experienced lawyer knows that this can have an impact on your car accident case. You may be eligible to seek punitive damages. Also, the criminal charges against the other driver for reckless driving will represent a strong piece of evidence for your claim.
Even though your case may not get to court (the only legal forum that can decide on punitive damages), you still stand to win sufficient compensation from the insurance company. For a skilled Atlanta car accident lawyer, a reckless driving charge is a valuable element during the negotiations with the insurer.
Reckless Driving Is a Serious Offense in Georgia
The term reckless driving is not just a figure of speech. It is a violation of traffic laws and is categorized as a misdemeanor by the Official Code of Georgia 40-6-390. The penalties for this offense can include a fine of up to $1,000, and up to 12 months in jail.
There is also a separate and more serious offense, similar to reckless driving – aggressive driving. According to the Official Code of Georgia 40-6-397, it represents a manner of driving “with the intent to annoy, harass, molest, intimidate, injure or obstruct” other persons.
A driver can be charged at the same time with reckless driving and aggressive driving, giving your lawyer more opportunities to negotiate from a position of strength.
What Exactly Qualifies as Reckless Driving?
An insurance adjuster will always try to downplay their client’s fault. This is not a show of solidarity with their client. It is a way of making sure that they will pay less for your car accident claim. If reckless driving can be excluded from the negotiations, they may just get away with a reduced settlement amount.
This is why your Atlanta car accident lawyer will need the exact description of the accident to prove the reckless behavior of the other driver. Here are the most common instances recognized by Georgia law.
1. Excessive Speeding
The concept of excessive speeding is not defined by a specific speed threshold, but by the place where it happens. For example, excessive speeding may mean traveling 30 mph over the speed limit in a residential area, while on the expressway it may be defined as exceeding the maximum speed by 60 mph.
The police officers who investigate the accident scene will determine whether the driver is guilty of reckless driving due to excessive speeding.
2. Ignoring Traffic Signs or Signals
Running a red light or driving in the wrong direction on a one-way street is a clear example of reckless driving. Traffic signals and signs exist to create order in traffic for everyone:
They are carefully placed and synchronized to give everyone the chance to cross a road or drive through an intersection. Thus, failing to stop when a traffic signal says so, means that the driver does not care about the safety and the rights of other people.
3. Not Yielding Right of Way
Right of way indicates the order in which pedestrians or cars can cross from one direction to another in an intersection. A reckless driver will ignore this rule and, very likely hit another car, a bicycle, motorcycle, or a pedestrian.
If your accident happened in this way, the other driver most clearly will be charged with reckless driving,
Tailgating means driving too closely to the car in front. This is especially dangerous in case of:
- Reduced visibility during the night
- Poor visibility due to fog
- Inclement weather conditions
- Poorly maintained road.
At any moment, the driver in front may have to apply the brakes. In this case, the reckless driver behind cannot avoid a rear-end collision.
5. Driving Under the Influence
DUI is a separate offense, but any driver found with a blood alcohol content that exceeds the legal limit will be charged with reckless driving, as well. Georgia legislators consider that the fact that someone chooses to drive under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances is a sign of clear disregard for other people’s life and safety.
At the same time, DUI is one of the three types of offense for which there is no cap on punitive damages.
6. Changing Lanes Quickly and Frequently
A reckless driver is always unhappy with the lane they are driving on. They always change it when they believe they can advance faster, without regard for other drivers.
In many cases, these drivers also fail to signal a lane change. This leaves other car drivers unable to avoid the collision.
This instance of reckless driving is usually not an isolated situation. Your Atlanta car accident lawyer can subpoena the at-fault driver’s record and identify a history of traffic violations.
7. Street Racing
Car races are strictly regulated and take place on special circuits, which are not open to general traffic. Any kind of racing on public roads is strictly prohibited. In many cases, it ends badly for an innocent third party.
In this situation, all the drivers involved in street racing will be charged with reckless driving and may be liable to pay for your damages.
Is It Worth Seeking Punitive Damages in a Lawsuit?
As we explained above, reckless driving instances qualify for punitive damages in a personal injury lawsuit. However, this is not something guaranteed. A jury may agree that a reckless driver should receive additional punishment, making them an example and deterrent for other drivers.
But punitive damages are strictly at the jury’s discretion. Meanwhile, your Atlanta car accident lawyer may reach a favorable out-of-court settlement with the driver’s insurance company. You would get sufficient compensation to cover both the economic and non-economic damages.
Bring Your Case to a Dedicated Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer!
One of the biggest advantages of bringing your case to the Diaz & Gaeta Law is that you will be able to get advice from a Spanish-speaking lawyer. For many accident victims, the language barrier is the main obstacle between them and the fair settlement they deserve.
We will analyze all the evidence carefully and advise you on the merit of your case. If reckless driving is one of the factors in your specific situation, we may consider the opportunity of filing a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf. However, our main goal is to help you obtain the fair compensation you deserve.
Schedule your free case review with us as soon as possible after your accident!