Q: If I’m hurt by a reckless driver, does his reckless driving criminal charge impact my civil damages claim?
Reckless driving is incredibly dangerous, often leading to serious rear-end, head-on, and side-impact collisions. When a reckless driver causes a vehicle accident, criminal charges may be filed against him. Injury victims can also sue the reckless driver for damages in civil court.
Reckless driving involves the operation of a vehicle in a manner that displays willful or wanton disregard for the safety of people or property. Some of the most common types of reckless driving include:
- Running red lights or stop signs
- Road rage
- Drowsy driving
- Racing other vehicles
- Excessive speeding
- Failure to use turn signals
- Evading law enforcement
- Distracted driving
- Unsafe passing of other vehicles
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Criminal and Civil Reckless Driving Cases
A reckless driver who causes injuries or death will likely face both a criminal trial and a civil lawsuit. While the same incident can lead to both civil and criminal actions, the outcome of the personal injury lawsuit isn’t based on the results of the criminal case.
Civil actions have a much lower burden of proof than criminal cases do, since the injury victim merely needs to prove the reckless driver was negligent in order to support his claim. Therefore, a defendant exonerated of criminal charges may still be held responsible for the injuries he caused in a personal injury lawsuit.
Similarly, even if the reckless driver is found guilty in a criminal trial, he won’t automatically be considered negligent in a civil proceeding. However, the evidence that led to his conviction in a criminal court may be used to strengthen a civil claim.
You Need an Attorney
When you’ve been injured in a collision due to the irresponsible actions of a reckless driver, you have the right to pursue damages. Regardless of whether there is a criminal conviction, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you receive the compensation you deserve.
To learn more, contact the law offices of Steve M. Lee, P.C., by clicking the Live Chat button on this page.