The vast majority of vehicle accidents occur because a driver on the roadway makes a mistake. Often, these mistakes occur due to the careless or reckless actions of a driver. Here, we want to discuss the difference between negligent driving and reckless driving on the roadways of Pennsylvania. There is a difference between these two terms, although it may seem subtle at first. However, this can have implications when it comes to a person receiving a citation and having to pay compensation for their actions.
How is Negligence Different From Recklessness When Driving?
The vast majority of vehicle accidents are caused by the negligent actions of one or more drivers on the roadway. Negligence is defined by a driver failing to uphold their duty of care to other drivers around them on the roadway. Every driver has a duty of care to maintain a safe operating environment. When they breach this duty of care, and this breach of duty causes injuries or property damage, the driver could be found negligent.
There are various examples of driver negligence, including various traffic infractions a person can commit. This includes failing to use a turn signal, failing to yield the right of way, not stopping at a stop sign or stop light, and more. Additionally, following other vehicles too closely, failing to appropriately use headlights, and speeding are all examples of possibly negligent driving behaviors.
Negligence, however, does not mean recklessness. For a driver to be reckless behind the wheel, this means that they have behaved in a way that blatantly disregards the safety of others around them. Reckless drivers have not simply made a mistake or a simple traffic infraction. Reckless drivers know the risks of their behaviors but choose to operate recklessly anyway.
Some of the willfully or intentionally unsafe driving behaviors that reckless drivers could engage in include operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, driving at excessive speeds, racing others on the roadway, blatantly running red lights, operating at night without headlights intentionally, texting and driving, and more.
When examining whether or not a crash was caused by negligence or reckless behavior, we can generally assume that negligence is accidental, but recklessness is intentional. Police officers will examine the totality of the incident when determining whether or not to write a regular citation or also write a regular citation along with reckless driving charges.
Pennsylvania law specifically states that “Any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.” Drivers found guilty of having operated their vehicle recklessly could face a fine of up to $200 and jail time upon conviction.
Recovering Compensation After an Accident
Any individual harmed as a result of the negligent or reckless actions of another driver should be able to recover compensation for their losses. This includes both economic and non-economic types of compensation, such as coverage of medical expenses, lost wages, property damage expenses, and pain and suffering damages.
It is important for crash victims to work with a skilled car accident attorney in Philadelphia who can conduct a full investigation into the case, investigate the negligence or reckless driving behaviors, and handle all negotiations with other parties.