Determining Liability After a Car Wreck in Georgia: Reckless Driving – OCGA 40-6-390
Posted by Wetherington Law Firm | Articles
What is Considered Reckless Driving?
Welcome back to our ongoing discussion of negligence per se, and how it applies to Georgia’s rules of the road.
The legal term “negligence per se” is based on the idea that everyone has a duty to follow all safety rules at all times. This concept is extremely helpful in establishing liability in civil cases, because it eliminates the need for subjective arguments over whether the defendant acted in a way that a reasonable person wouldn’t. As long as the defendant injured someone in the course of breaking a safety rule, that’s automatically considered unreasonable behavior, and it’s referred to as negligence per se.
All of the rules of the road count as safety rules, so each one represents at least one way of committing negligence per se. Last week, we talked about OCGA 40-6-311, which details how motorcycles may be used on the road. This week, we’re talking about OCGA 40-6-390, which covers the offense of reckless driving. To view our article on aggressive driving, click here.
What Is Reckless Driving?
Reckless driving is a broad term. It includes any kind of driving that shows malice or indifference toward the safety of other people.
(a) Any person who drives any vehicle in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property commits the offense of reckless driving.
This simple but open-ended definition covers a virtually endless range of traffic offenses, from extreme speeding to driving on the wrong side of the street.
Reckless driving usually involves breaking other specific laws, but it doesn’t have to. For example, driving at the speed limit may be considered reckless, if the driver is ignoring current road conditions that make this speed unsafe.
Unlike aggressive driving, which we’ve talked about in a previous post, reckless driving doesn’t have to be aimed at hurting anyone in particular. Rather, reckless driving is a willful failure of the duty everyone on the road shares toward each other — the duty to take reasonable care to avoid causing accidents.
Consequences for Reckless Driving
Under statute 40-6-390, reckless driving is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and a jail sentence of up to a year.
(b) Every person convicted of reckless driving shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000.00 or imprisonment not to exceed 12 months, or by both such fine and imprisonment, provided that no provision of this Code section shall be construed so as to deprive the court imposing the sentence of the power given by law to stay or suspend the execution of such sentence or to place the defendant on probation.
Of course, under civil law, the price of recklessness can be much higher. A person guilty of reckless driving is automatically liable for any damage they cause, under negligence per se.
What Damages Can You Recover from a Reckless Driver?
As in any civil case, the damages you can recover from a reckless driver fall into two main categories: special damages and general damages. Each category requires its own forms of evidence, but the Wetherington Law Firm can help you get the most out of both aspects of your settlement.
Special Damages Reimburse You for Your Expenses
Medical expenses are the main reason accident survivors pursue civil cases. These bills can pile up quickly, continue for a lifetime, and completely upend a survivor’s financial life. The good news is that, if you were injured by a reckless driver in an accident that was not your fault, you’re owed full reimbursement not only for the medical bills you’ve already received, but for any accident-related medical expenses you’re expected to face in the future, and any other kinds of expenses as well. This includes a replacement vehicle, if yours was totaled, and your lost income, if the accident affected your ability to work. These are your special damages. To learn about how the Wetherington Law Firm can help you calculate and prove these damages, click here.
General Damages Account for Your Pain
Full reimbursement for your expenses still falls a long way short of making up for the trauma of being in a traffic accident in the first place, which is why your settlement should also include a total for general damages. General damages account for things like physical pain, psychological harm, lost time, and non-financial missed opportunities. Because general damages are intended to compensate for losses that are actually priceless, it can be a lot harder to come up with a fair general damages total than it is to reimburse a stack of bills. This is where your lawyer’s skill level makes the biggest difference in how thorough your compensation will be.
What If the Reckless Driver Killed Someone?
The most devastatingly priceless loss of all is the life of a loved one. Both the Wetherington Law Firm and law itself recognize the gravity of wrongful death cases. There are slightly different rules for these than for personal injury cases, which you can learn more about here.
Why Do I Need a Lawyer?
In addition to making sure the judge and jury appreciate the extent of your most priceless losses, a lawyer can also act as an advisor, tour guide, and emotional bodyguard throughout the process of obtaining your settlement. From the moment you survive an accident, you become the target of the at-fault driver’s insurance company, which will do everything in its power to pay out as little as possible of what it owes you. Common tactics include excessive friendliness, trick questions, lowball offers, and harassment. When you have a lawyer, you’re protected from direct interactions with insurance representatives that can be both stressful and dangerous to your case. You also have an expert at your beck and call to help you ensure you’re accounting for all of your expenses and making the best move at every turn.
How to Hire the Best Car Wreck Lawyers in Atlanta
The Wetherington Law Firm is made up of seasoned professionals who are passionate about making sure everyone with a legitimate case receives the best of representation. We don’t believe your chance to be heard in court should have anything to do with your ability to pay.
That’s why we work exclusively on a contingency basis. We accept cases based solely on their merits, and once we’ve taken you on as a client, we’ll fight for as long as it takes to get you the compensation you deserve. Only once you’ve received your settlement do we accept our percentage as payment. If we don’t win, you owe us nothing.
To discuss your case with a lawyer today, give us a call at 404-888-4444 or reach out through the form on the right for a free consultation.
If You Have a Case You Believe Could Help Others, We Want to Hear from You
The Wetherington Law Firm exists to help people through the power of litigation. Our first priority is always helping our clients, but some of our clients also have their own visions for helping others. We’re always thrilled to support these everyday heroes in making a difference. For example, if reckless driving is particularly common around a certain property where you were injured, we’ll look into the policies of local businesses and the possible need for extra security to prevent more accidents like yours. To learn more about how we’ve helped survivors like you make positive changes, just ask!