Teens and Reckless Driving
Imagine getting in the car and backing out of your driveway without stopping at the sidewalk or turning and looking both ways for people or traffic. Imagine cruising through your neighborhood at 40 mph instead of the posted 25 mph. Think of all the stop signs you could just roll through. Consider all of the turns you can take so quickly you feel like you’re on two wheels instead of four.
If you’re a mature driver, these imaginings are probably frightening. You’re asking yourself who would drive that way? Who would be so careless?
The answer is: teenagers.
Experienced drivers, even if they still haven’t come to terms with how fragile and fleeting life is, are more cautious behind the wheel. They recognize how dangerous a vehicle can be, which is why they maintain a reasonable speed limit, slow down for turns, stop at stop signs and red lights, and always watch out for other cars and pedestrians.
Teenagers, on the other hand, are known for poor decision-making skills and reckless driving.
Teenagers and Car Crashes
Auto accidents are a leading cause of adolescent deaths. Every year a few thousands 16 to 19-year-olds are killed in car accidents and a couple hundred thousand are treated for injuries in the ER. It’s not surprising when you consider that teenagers are more likely to speed and become distracted by their cellphones or friends and are less likely to wear their seatbelts compared to older, more experienced drivers. Teenagers are also at risk of getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana, or doing other drugs.
But teenagers don’t exclusively hurt themselves or other teens in crashes. In many of these accidents, they also injure other people.
Illinois Reckless Driving Law
Under Illinois law, a person drives recklessly when they 1) drive with a willful and wanton disregard for people and property’s safety and 2) knowingly uses a ramp or incline to make the car go airborne.
Reckless driving can be more than a ticket and a hassle. An officer can arrest any driver they believe to be driving recklessly. The driver will be sent to jail if they can’t post bond, and eventually, the driver will need to go to traffic court and face a judge.
The offense is a Class A misdemeanor. A judge can sentence a driver up to 1 year in jail or probation and a fine up to $2,500. During probation, the driver might have to complete a traffic course or community service.
Aggravated Reckless Driving
If the reckless driver causes harm, disability, or disfigurement to another person, that driver is guilty of aggravated reckless driving. This is a Class 4 felony in Illinois, and a defendant faces much harsher penalties. Upon conviction, the judge can sentence the driver to up to 3 years in prison.
If the injury or disability is to a child or a school crossing guard, the offense is a Class 3 felony. This is punishable with up to 5 years in prison. All felony consequences can include a fine of up to $25,000 and restitution to the victims.
Injuries to Others and Teen Liability
The reason Illinois takes reckless driving so seriously is that it puts other lives at risk. Reckless driving can cause a teen to hit a kid on a bike, a family minivan, a parent on their way home from work. Any single person a reckless teenager hurts has family and friends who will be saddened by their injuries or mourn their death. The teen may cause someone to have a permanent disability or kill someone. The possibilities of who a reckless driver can hurt are endless, to say nothing of the trauma it will cause the adolescent.
If a teenager hurts another person due to their reckless driving, that person will use their own and the teenager’s insurance to recover. A teenager is liable for an accident they cause just like anyone else. However, if the teen isn’t insured or the policy limit isn’t enough to cover the victim’s damages, it may be possible for the victim to sue the parents. It’s a narrow situation, but if the teen is out driving on family business, such as running an errand for mom or dad, then the parents may be liable. Suing the teenager may not practical as there’s little to no income to recover from.
Contact a Lawyer
If you were injured by a reckless teen driver, contact a Chicago car injury attorney today. An experienced lawyer can help you navigate the insurance claims process and ensure you’re treated fairly by the insurance company. If your claim is denied for some reason, the lawyer will help you appeal or seek another remedy available to you. Contact Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. today at (312) 236-2900 to learn more.