Get A Proven Legal Champion By Your Side

Is There a Legal Difference Between Negligent and Reckless Driving?

On Behalf of | May 10, 2022 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Although the terms “negligent” and “reckless” may seem similar, they have two totally different meanings from a legal standpoint. Negligent driving occurs when a driver fails to use what is known as “reasonable care” while operating a motor vehicle. Failing to use reasonable care means that the driver has breached their duty to act in a particular manner so as not to cause harm or injury to other motorists.
Reckless driving is when a driver acts in a manner that demonstrates a blatant disregard for the safety of others. Unlike those who are guilty of negligent driving and are unaware of the risks associated with their behaviors, individuals who are driving recklessly are aware that their actions could cause harm but continue to drive dangerously.

What are Some Examples of Negligent Versus Reckless Driving?

In order to understand the difference between the two distinctive legal terms of negligent versus reckless driving, some examples are listed below:
Negligent driving
• Situations in which the term accidental is appropriate to describe the event that occurred.
• Driving while drowsy
• Not making proper allowances while driving in bad weather
• Unknowingly creating an unsafe environment for other drivers or pedestrians
Reckless driving
• Driving at excessive speeds well over the posted speed limit
• Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
• Texting while driving
• Street racing
• Refusing to stop at red lights or stop signs

What are the Penalties for Negligent or Reckless Driving?

The penalties associated with negligent driving, as opposed to reckless driving, have much to do with intent. In negligent driving cases, the act is often considered a traffic infraction. Traffic infractions are punishable by set laws in California. A negligent driver may be ordered to pay fines or probation, and points are added to your license.
Convictions for reckless driving are considerably greater as you may face potential jail time, steep fines, points added to your license, suspension of your driver’s license, as well as a sharp increase in car insurance premiums.

Can I File a Claim Against a Driver if I Was Injured Because They Were Driving Recklessly?

If you have been injured due to negligent or reckless driving, you may be entitled to claim damages. The amount of compensation you may receive would be based on what type of charges the driver initially received. If you were injured because a driver was texting, this would be considered negligent. Therefore, the potential damages would be substantially less than if an intoxicated driver injured you.

How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help Me if I Have Been Injured by Negligent or Reckless Driving?

If you have been injured as the result of either negligent or reckless driving, you need to speak with a personal injury attorney immediately. Understanding the differences between negligent and reckless driving can be difficult without the assistance of an experienced attorney. Contact our law offices by calling 310-774-4260 and ask to schedule a free consultation to discuss your potential case.