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Car accident lawsuits: What is recklessness?

No human being who cares about the welfare of others would act in a way that could hurt someone else. Whether it's out of sheer stupidity or forgetfulness, however, people act in reckless and dangerous ways that put themselves and others at risk of serious harm all the time.

When a driver acts recklessly or wantonly like this, and it does result in someone else getting hurt, that driver will be financially liable for damages, injuries and deaths he or she causes.

How do courts define recklessness and wanton conduct?

Negligence is a central theme in nearly every car accident injury lawsuit. Essentially, when a driver or some other party failed to act in a way that any other reasonable party would have acted to prevent the risk of injury to others, that driver will be negligent. By establishing negligence, a plaintiff can demand financial compensation from the at-fault party.

Recklessness or wanton conduct takes the issue of negligence to a higher level. When recklessness or wanton conduct have occurred, it elevates the wrongdoing and financial liability of the defendant. Often, when there is a question of recklessness or wanton conduct, the defendant's actions were foolishly dangerous and disrespectful to the welfare of others.

Here are some clear examples of recklessness:

  • Driving while severely intoxicated.
  • Drag racing with another driver.
  • Speeding in a residential neighborhood.
  • Speeding near a school or playground.
  • Doing a wheelie on a motorcycle with a passenger on the back.
  • Endangering pedestrians by driving on the sidewalk.

What's the difference between recklessness and negligence

The primary difference between recklessness and negligence is the fact that the reckless party -- although he or she did not purposefully intend to hurt someone -- made a conscious decision to act in a way that endangered others. Here are four factors that courts look for when determining if a particular action was reckless:

  • The defendant intended to act in a certain way, knowing that it could create the chance of harm.
  • The level of risk the defendant took was unreasonable.
  • The level of risk was substantially more than the risk associated with negligent conduct.
  • The defendant knew or had sufficient reason to suspect that the action placed others at risk.

Individuals who suffered injuries as a result of another party's recklessness may want to learn more about their legal rights and options. In many cases, injured parties may be able to seek financial restitution in court.

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