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Driving isn’t all fun and games, but that is the attitude that some reckless drivers take when they hit the road. Reckless driving is a willful and negligent act that puts the lives of other drivers at risk. When an accident inevitably happens, it is the victim that ends up suffering the consequences. Physical injuries take a toll on the body, while medical bills take a toll on a victim’s financial security. Will an insurance settlement from the at-fault driver’s company be enough to cover the tremendous costs associated with a reckless driving accident?
That’s a question you should let an experienced Lake Charles reckless accident attorney answer for you. At Veron, Bice, Palermo & Wilson, LLC, we encourage victims of reckless driving accidents to pick our brains and take advantage of our free initial consultation. Too often, victims don’t realize that the amount of money an insurance company offers may not be enough to cover medical expenses, time missed from work, and property damage expenses. A first offer is not set in stone. It is negotiable, and an attorney can help you broker a full and fair settlement.
Interested in learning more about how a Lake Charles car accident attorney can help you hold reckless drivers accountable and seek the maximum amount of compensation possible for your situation? Call us at 337-800-8800 and speak with a seasoned attorney. We’ll set you up with a free consolation and put you on the path towards resolving this traumatic situation.
What is Considered Reckless Driving?
Reckless driving isn’t just unsafe driving. It is typically defined as a willful and negligent act that purposefully puts other drivers at risk and jeopardizes safety. In the state of Louisiana, reckless driving is known as “reckless operation of a vehicle.” The generality of this phrase allows law enforcement officials some flexibility in determining what constitutes reckless driving behavior. Some of the most common examples of behavior that can be targeted as “reckless” include:
- Driving while intoxicated
- Excessive speeding
- Street racing
- Failing to obey traffic signs
- Failing to obey traffic lights
- Operating a motorized vehicle on a sidewalk
- Making unsafe lane changes
- “Brake checking”
- Not allowing other cars to switch lanes
- Blocking cars from exiting
- Driving the wrong way
- Passing stopped school buses with lights on and signs out
Louisiana Penalties for Reckless Driving
Not only is reckless driving dangerous and risky behavior, but it is also criminally punishable under Louisiana law. A driver that engages in reckless driving not only risks the safety of others but can be held responsible for the financial consequences of an accident, as well as being criminally punished. The reckless operation of a vehicle is considered a misdemeanor offense and can carry fines and jail time. The consequences depend on the number of previous convictions the reckless driver has on their record and may include:
- 90 days in jail and/or
- $200 in fines
- 10 days to 6 months in jail and/or
- $25 to $500 in fines
- In addition to jail time and fines, if a driver is convicted of three reckless operation of a vehicle charges within a 12-month period, the driver may end up losing their license for one year. Driving with a suspended license during this time can result in the driver losing their license for an additional year.
Unlike other states, Louisiana does not subscribe to a point-based system when it comes to tracking driving offenses. Instead, the state follows what is known as the Problem Driver Pointer System. This system allows the state to track driving offenses and violations that occur both in and out of the state of Louisiana. If the state determines that a driver has committed too many violations, that driver may face the suspension of their driver’s license, fees, and may have to enroll in educational driving courses. All reckless driving offenses are tracked using this system and can impact a driver’s overall record when combined with other driving offenses.
Injuries Associated with Reckless Driving Accidents
While reckless driving encompasses a wide variety of different and dangerous driving behaviors, the consequences of a reckless driving accident are almost always serious. Crashing while traveling at excessive speeds can cause significant, sometimes fatal injuries. Going around a stopped bus that has its sign out and lights flashing can kill a child walking off the bus. Reckless driving behavior can impact a victim for the rest of their life, altering their quality of life and even their ability to earn a living. Some of the most commonly seen injuries in reckless driving accidents tend to include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Facial and dental injuries
- Head, neck, and spine injuries
- Fractured bones
- Organ damage
- Internal bleeding
- Road rash
- Wrongful death
These types of injuries carry with them significant medical treatment costs. Surgeries, hospital bills, doctor’s bills, pharmacy costs, and physical therapy costs can deplete anyone’s financial resources in a hurry. Factor in that many of these types of injuries will require future care, follow-up visits, and possibly rehabilitation, and these bills can impact a victim well into the foreseeable future. Physical recovery takes time, and so does financial recovery. However, if a victim can’t return to work immediately, financial recovery can be extremely difficult.
An insurance company may piece together an offer that attempts to cover your immediate medical needs, but what about your future medical needs? What about the income that you are missing out on by being out of work while you recover? To make sure that the insurance company is treating you fairly and offering you the full value your claim is worth, talk to an attorney with Veron, Bice, Palermo & Wilson, LLC before accepting an offer. We can review your situation, the circumstances of the accident, and help determine if you are being offered a fair settlement.
Compensation for Reckless Driving Accident Victims
While one of the most common options for recovering compensation following a reckless driving accident is pursuing a claim with the reckless driver’s insurance company, that isn’t the only option open to Louisiana drivers. Louisiana is known as an at-fault state. A fault-based system gives victims several different avenues for being able to pursue compensation after an accident.
In a fault-based system, the driver that is responsible for causing the accident is the driver responsible for covering the costs associated with the accident. A victim is free to seek this compensation by either filing an insurance claim with their car insurance company, filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, or filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Once a victim decides which claim best suits their situation, it is important to keep in mind that compensation is distributed following Louisiana’s “pure comparative fault” rule. This rule stipulates that those looking to collect compensation after an accident will be awarded that money based on the amount of responsibility allocated to each party for causing the accident. This rule binds compensation decisions in courtrooms and can heavily influence insurance company negotiations.
A reckless driver could be found 90 percent liable for causing an accident because of their dangerous and negligent behavior. However, if the victim was on their phone, or speeding only a few miles over the legal limit, they too may bear responsibility for the accident. In this example, if the victim was found to be 10 percent at fault for an accident, it means they can collect the total amount of damages minus that 10 percent. If damages are equal to $100,000, then they can claim $90,000.
Under a pure comparative fault system, even the driver most responsible for causing the accident can claim a piece of the compensation. In this scenario, that would be $10,000. However, they are also still responsible for covering the $90,000 that is due to the victim.
The system may seem complicated, but a skilled attorney has experience navigating both the insurance claims process and the personal injury lawsuit process. The attorneys with Veron, Bice, Palermo & Wilson, LLC can investigate the cause of the accident. They can gather all the necessary evidence to build a solid case that helps solidify liability and earn the victim the maximum amount of compensation possible.
A Louisiana Reckless Driving Lawyer Can Help
Reckless drivers have no regard for the law or your safety and security. If you have been hurt in a reckless driving accident, you can’t wait for the reckless driver or their insurance company to decide to “do the right thing.” You need to hold the driver accountable for their actions and go after the maximum amount of compensation that your situation commands. That is where the Lake Charles attorneys at Veron, Bice, Palermo & Wilson, LLC can help.
We will review your case and lay out your legal options in an honest and transparent way. Then we can discuss the best approach to getting you the money you need for your medical expenses and time away from work. To talk to an experienced Lake Charles attorney and schedule a free initial consultation, call us at 337-800-8800 today.