What Is Considered Reckless Driving?

December 1, 2023 | Ed Bernstein
What Is Considered Reckless Driving?

Drivers who disregard others’ safety drive recklessly. Though each state has its own reckless driving statutes, most states consider the same behaviors as reckless driving.

A car accident attorney will seek fair compensation for your damages if a reckless driver causes an accident involving you or your loved one. Reckless drivers often have little regard for others’ safety.

How Is Reckless Driving Different from Careless Driving?

What Is Considered Reckless Driving

You may hear careless and reckless driving terms if you drive long enough. You may not know the difference unless you have racked up multiple tickets or accidents.

Two primary differences between careless driving and reckless driving are that:

  • Reckless driving can be criminal, while careless driving is generally only a civil citation.
  • A reckless driver knowingly engages in dangerous acts, while careless driving can refer to a mere lack of attention or care.

Reckless driving is a more severe offense. Careless driving can refer to a wide range of driving behaviors that endanger others. Still, an officer may spare a reckless driving charge for those knowingly engaging in egregious acts of danger.

Reckless Driving Typically Rises Above the Level of Negligence

Negligence is a failure to act reasonably. This is the standard for proving liability in civil cases. When talking about reckless driving, though, we generally discuss actions beyond negligence.

When someone drives recklessly, they don’t just fail to act reasonably. A reckless driver knowingly acts unreasonably. In negligence cases, the negligent party may not realize they acted with negligence. In reckless driving cases, the individual always knows they are engaging in dangerous behavior—and does so anyway.

Examples of Reckless Driving

Law enforcement officers have some discretion in deciding when a driver is reckless versus when they are careless. Acts that may qualify as reckless driving include:

Speeding (In Conjunction with Aggravating Factors)

Speeding alone is not usually enough to qualify as reckless driving. However, when someone speeds in certain conditions or while engaging in other dangerous activities, the speeding motorist may have driven recklessly.

Examples of reckless speeding may include:

  • Speeding while racing other vehicles
  • Speeding while weaving through traffic
  • Speeding in a school zone
  • Speeding in a pedestrian-heavy area
  • Speeding while carrying dangerous materials (as may be the case with a truck driver carrying flammable materials)
  • Speeding to elude law enforcement officers

Speeding is a factor in a large percentage of motor vehicle accidents. When someone speeds recklessly, they may risk causing severe injuries or even claiming victims’ lives.

Disregarding Lanes and Passing Rules

When motorists are unwilling to follow traffic laws, they may be tempted to drive recklessly. If a driver passes when it is illegal to do so, drives in the wrong direction down a one-way street, drives on the sidewalk, or passes in any other way that endangers others, they may commit reckless driving.

Being Intoxicated or On Drugs

Motorists may face charges of reckless driving if they drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This charge may occur in combination with another criminal charge, such as driving under the influence (DUI).

These are just a few common examples of driving acts that may be considered reckless driving. As an accident victim, you deserve justice for any harm you’ve suffered because of a reckless driver.

Why Is Reckless Driving Such a Major Problem?

Every time a motorist acts dangerously, it is a problem. However, mistakes happen, and most drivers are not intentionally endangering others.

Reckless driving is a whole different problem.

When someone knows they are endangering others yet proceed in their dangerous acts, that person:

  • Exhibits a callous disregard for others
  • Shows an inability to calculate risk versus reward, a calculation that must be accurate if someone is going to drive safely
  • Indicates that they are above the traffic laws
  • May have a penchant for engaging in reckless driving regularly—if someone shows such blatant disregard for others’ safety once, why wouldn’t they do it again?

The notion that a motorist will knowingly put others’ lives at risk is so concerning about reckless driving. This is why reckless driving qualifies as a criminal offense and why victims of reckless drivers demand fair compensation from the irresponsible motorist.

You Can Pursue Compensation from a Reckless Driver (and Don’t Have to Do It Alone)

Compensation from a Reckless Driver

The greatest issue with reckless driving is that it can lead to accidents.

If a reckless driver victimized you, you deserve fair compensation for all accident-related damages, which may include:

  • Property damage: Your lawyer will consult an automotive repair pro to calculate the repair or replacement of your vehicle. If a reckless driver damaged your phone, clothing, or other property, your lawyer will include those expenses in your case.
  • Pain and suffering: Motor vehicle accidents can be immensely traumatic. This can be especially true when a reckless driver causes an accident, as these accidents may happen at high speeds or in frightening circumstances (like a head-on accident). Your lawyer will account for physical pain, emotional anguish, psychological distress, and other forms of pain and suffering.
  • Professional losses: Car accident attorneys calculate the cost of their clients’ lost income, diminished earning power, and other professional damages. In cases where the victim cannot work for the foreseeable future (or ever again), a lawyer projects these professional damages through retirement age.
  • Medical expenses: Your accident-related medical bills will be vital to your case. Your lawyer will demand that liable parties cover all accident-related medical costs until you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).
  • Disability-related damages: Those with disabilities may need additional services, like in-home caregiver assistance. They may also need a wheelchair, improvements to their home, a disability-accommodating vehicle, and other items. If you or a loved one are disabled because of a reckless driver, your lawyer will account for your disability-specific damages.
  • A wrongful death: Lost lives are the ultimate cost of reckless driving. Survivors should receive compensation for funeral costs, lost financial support, loss of consortium, and all other damages resulting from a fatal traffic accident.

The cost of a motor vehicle accident often falls between tens of thousands of dollars and more than $1 million, depending on the severity of injuries. You do not want to miss out on the compensation you deserve. Many victims of reckless drivers trust car accident attorneys to build the strongest case possible.

Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer After a Reckless Driving Accident

Being hit by a reckless driver can throw your life into chaos. A lawyer will provide essential legal services, but just as importantly, a lawyer can provide the guidance you need.

Some of the most common benefits of hiring a reckless driving lawyer are:

  • A lawyer’s familiarity with completing reckless driving accident cases: A lawyer has seen cases like yours. While your case has unique details, you will not be the first victim of a reckless driver your lawyer has represented. Having a lawyer’s experience on your side can be a steadying, case-boosting benefit.
  • The time you’ll have to focus on your recovery: With your attorney managing every detail of your lawsuit or claim, you can focus on your health. You may short-change your case and the recovery process if you do not have a lawyer.
  • A law firm’s unwavering financial support: Your car accident lawyer will pay the cost of your case. The firm will build the strongest case possible, no matter the cost. 
  • The mental health benefits of letting a lawyer handle your case: Insurance claims and lawsuits can be psychologically draining. Avoid any added stress by hiring a lawyer to fight for your financial recovery. 

If you are inexperienced with insurance claims or lawsuits, this can hurt your case. If you face physical injuries, psychological stress, or emotional volatility, this can hurt your case. Rather than try to overcome these immense challenges, allow a lawyer to take your case off your shoulders.

Will the Reckless Driver Personally Pay for My Accident?

This depends on the details of your case. Often, traffic accident victims will first seek compensation through an insurance claim. If the reckless driver has insurance, their insurer may be required to pay for some or all of your accident-related damages.

A reckless driver can be personally liable for accident-related damages.

Your lawyer may advise you to pursue a lawsuit if:

  • The reckless driver does not have auto insurance
  • The reckless driver’s auto insurance does not cover all of your damages
  • The reckless driver’s auto insurance provider does not negotiate in good faith (or does not offer a fair settlement)

Whether you pursue compensation through an insurance claim or lawsuit, your car accident lawyer will lead every step of the way.

What Will a Lawyer Do for Me? 

Your lawyer will fight for you. They will protect your rights, deal with insurance companies, and demand justice for the harm you’ve suffered. More specifically, a car accident attorney will:

Protect You from Insurers 

Insurance companies do not always act with good intentions or good faith.

Your lawyer will deal with insurers, meaning they will:

  • Handle all communications with insurance companies
  • Ensure that no insurer can badger you
  • Provide any paperwork insurers need to move forth with your claim
  • Urge insurers to handle your claim in a fair, urgent manner

An insurance company can try to misrepresent your words or have you accept a lowball settlement offer. A car accident lawyer will ensure that this does not happen.

Detail the Reckless Driving That Caused Your Accident

Lawyers secure evidence of negligence in many car accident cases.

In your case, your lawyer will seek evidence of recklessness, which may include:

  • Video footage of your accident
  • Witness accounts of the accident
  • The police report, which may include a formal citation for reckless driving
  • An expert’s testimony that the at-fault motorist engaged in reckless driving
  • Any other evidence documenting the at-fault driver’s reckless actions

If a motorist’s recklessness caused your accident, there may be no doubt they are financially responsible for your damages. Therefore, your lawyer must prove their recklessness.

Document the Harm That Has Come from Your Accident

Your lawyer will enter settlement negotiations with proof of your damages, which may include:

  • Your account of how the accident has negatively affected you
  • Medical records detailing your injuries
  • Records from a mental health expert detailing your pain and suffering
  • Invoices for the repair or replacement of damaged property
  • Invoices for temporary transportation
  • Proof that you have missed work (and past income statements to prove your lost income)

The more proof of damages your lawyers secure, the stronger their case may be.

Calculate the Value of a Fair Settlement

Before negotiating with insurers or other liable parties, your lawyer will determine exactly how much money you deserve. They will account for both economic and non-economic harm when completing this calculation.

If you have yet to fully heal or have a disability, your attorney will project the cost of all damages you will suffer in the future.

Secure a Settlement or Take Your Case to Court

Your attorney will seek fair compensation through a settlement or jury verdict. If liable parties are unwilling to offer your deserved compensation, your lawyer will take your case to trial. They will fight for a jury to award you the financial recovery you deserve.

Hire a Car Accident Lawyer as Soon as You Can—a Filing Deadline Looms

The sooner you hire an accident lawyer, the sooner they can file your case. They will also waste no time in gathering evidence, as this is a time-sensitive priority.

If you wait too long:

  • Evidence might weaken or disappear
  • You might miss the statute of limitations and lose the right to file a lawsuit in civil court
  • You might give the insurance company considerable leverage in negotiations, often reducing your overall compensation

Call Las Vegas personal injury attorneys, hire the most qualified firm, and focus on your recovery while your lawyer fights for you.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation Today!


Ed Bernstein

Edward M. Bernstein, Esq. is the owner and founding partner of Edward M. Bernstein & Associates, and one of the most recognizable figures in Nevada. Ed is one of state’s premier personal injury attorneys and has hosted The Ed Bernstein Show for over 31 years. He has served the Las Vegas community for decades with dozens of community appointments and terms of service. In the year 2000, he was Nevada’s Democratic nominee for the United States Senate.

Ed received his B.A. from Long Island University in 1971 and his J.D. from Widener University in 1975. Since then, Ed’s professional accolades include numerous publications, honors and awards, court appointments, and has been named one of America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.