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Reckless Driving Accidents

You’re driving home from a night out with your spouse, taking in some of Chicago’s fine dining and entertainment. On your way, you notice a car in the opposite lane driving too fast and weaving in and out of traffic. You don’t think much of it, other than to note the reckless behavior, until that driver tries to pass someone by crossing the center line into your lane. You try to swerve, but it’s too late and the other driver crashes into you head-on.

A lot of the time, accidents are just accidents. Someone is at fault and they have to take responsibility for the injuries they cause, but with the kind of negligence at the heart of most car accidents, there’s often no blatant disregard for other people. However, sometimes another driver just doesn’t care that he or she is putting other people at risk. When that happens, the law describes that kind of willful or wanton disregard as recklessness.

Reckless driving is a misdemeanor crime in Illinois, but it can be a felony when the driver causes bodily harm, disability, or disfigurement. In the scenario above, the driver who caused the head-on collision through his recklessness may face prison time and significant fines through the criminal justice system. However, as the accident victim, you also have a right to pursue a claim for compensation separately from any criminal charges that driver may face.

Through a successful claim, you may be able to receive payment for your medical costs, lost wages or income, disability and disfigurement, pain and suffering, and loss of normal life. When the actions that caused your accident were extremely reckless a jury may award punitive damages, but those are relatively rare in Illinois.

An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you understand what options might be available to you for pursuing compensation of your injuries and other losses, and negotiate for the best possible settlement with the reckless driver’s insurance company. A lawyer also can investigate your car accident and gather the evidence and testimony needed to demonstrate the at-fault driver’s recklessness. If necessary, your lawyer can file a lawsuit and make a case to a jury why you should be fully compensated for your damages resulting from the accident.

Common Causes of Reckless Driving Accidents

In general, reckless driving is driving in a way that demonstrates a willful and wanton disregard for the safety and property of other people. That can be a somewhat broad standard for determining what kind of conduct is reckless. It’s also a somewhat subjective standard, and it can be challenging to prove to a jury that someone was “willful and wanton” rather than merely negligent. However, there are some behaviors that often get defined as reckless driving in the criminal sense, and may be considered reckless driving when they result in a car accident. Those include:

  • Excessive speeding, usually 20 mph or more over the posted speed limit
  • Driving under the influence
  • Street racing
  • Aggressive tailgating
  • Running a red light or stop sign
  • Unsafe passing or lane changing

If you have been hurt in a Chicago auto accident due to someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible for compensation for your injuries. Contact Staver Law Group for a free consultation of your situation and to see how we may be able to help you – .