If you’ve been involved in a reckless driving accident in Indiana, you may be entitled to compensation even if an insurance company balks at offering you a settlement.
You probably don’t need help finding examples of reckless driving. Most of us see plenty of it whenever we drive. If we’re honest, most of us have probably been guilty of it, too.
Legally speaking, reckless driving does not require that the driver be a horrible person who doesn’t think about the consequences of their actions. Plenty of decent people make poor decisions on the road. But sometimes property gets damaged or people get hurt.
The following will help you determine if you have been the victim of a reckless driving accident according to the laws of Indiana and whether you may have the right to compensation.
The Definition of Reckless Driving
Many moving traffic violations fall under the definition of reckless driving. Essentially, reckless driving is operating a motor vehicle in a way that endangers others on the road. Thus, egregious speeding, failure to yield or obey traffic signals, and drifting in and out of lanes are all examples of reckless driving, and each violation can cause accidents.
Indiana law specifically defines reckless driving as operating a vehicle without regard to others on the road or to the property of others. Examples of reckless driving include:
- Driving at an unreasonably high or low rate of speed
- Blocking property or the flow of traffic
- Failure to share the roadway with other vehicles
- Passing a stopped school bus
- Passing a vehicle on a curve with less than 500 feet of vision.
“Wet reckless” is a term used to describe a plea-bargain reckless driving charge after an initial charge of driving under the influence, or operating while intoxicated (OWI).
Reckless Driving — and Traffic Fatalities — on the Rise
Between 2020 and 2021, car crash fatalities rose 18.4% nationwide. The National Highway Administration reports that 20,160 people died in car accidents in 2021. In Indiana, there were 914 fatalities due to vehicle collisions.
According to the Crash Fact Book released by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, in 2020, speeding was the leading cause of all car accidents in Indiana, accounting for 15,032 collisions, over 3,000 injuries, and 201 fatalities.
The 2021 traffic safety report from the Indiana state government lists speeding as the top reckless driving citation: There were 38,924 speeding citations and arrests made that year.
According to the Indianapolis Star, Indiana police departments received some $6.5 million of federal grant money in 2021 specifically to combat reckless driving.
Poor driving habits can often lead to collisions, yet are easy to rectify.
Indiana Laws Against Reckless Driving
In Indiana, a reckless driver can face a variety of serious charges. Typically, these charges fall under a misdemeanor charge, but severe accidents may incur felony charges. The misdemeanor charges include:
- Reckless driving resulting in property damage: This charge can result in a year-long driver’s license suspension and a Class B misdemeanor.
- Reckless driving resulting in injury: If a reckless driver injures you in an accident, they will face Class A misdemeanors. This can result in a license suspension up to a year in jail and up to $5,000 in fines.
- Unlawfully passing a school bus: If a reckless driver passes a school bus with its stop sign extended, they will face a Class B misdemeanor. This could result in 6 months jail time and $1,000 in fines.
- Standard reckless driving: Did you know that driving too slow can result in a reckless driving charge? Standard reckless driving includes speeding or going too slow and illegally passing another vehicle around a curve. This is considered a Class C misdemeanor and could result in two months in jail and $500 fines.
What You Should Do After a Reckless Driving Accident
If you’ve been a victim of a reckless driving accident in Indiana, make sure you take the following steps:
- Call 911 or file a police report online
- Take video and photographic evidence of your accident
- Seek immediate medical attention. If you’ve been injured or experienced trauma in an accident, it’s vital that you see a doctor in order to receive a proper diagnosis and document the treatment you receive.
- Contact an expert personal injury lawyer. The right attorney can help you navigate through the process of a legal claim and examine the merits of your case.
Potential Compensation After a Reckless Driving Accident
After your reckless driving accident, pursuing the settlement you deserve may feel like the farthest thing from your mind — you should certainly attend to your healing, first.
However, it is still important to do your due diligence and file the appropriate insurance claims and any paperwork with the police.
Sometimes the insurance company will hesitate to pay you. But you may still be entitled to personal injury compensation. Such compensation after an accident may include:
- Pain and suffering: Any emotional, mental, or physical distress attributed to your accident may be covered.
- Property damage: If your accident damaged your vehicle, you could be owed any repair costs and rental car fees.
- Loss of quality of life: If your accident results in emotional, mental, or physical injuries that reduce your quality of life, you may be owed compensatory damages.
- Medical expenses: Medical appointments, hospital stays, surgeries or other procedures, prescriptions, ambulance rides, and more could be covered in a compensatory settlement.
- Lost wages: Any lost income or potential earnings — including tips and bonuses — could result in a settlement.
How to File a Claim
If you’ve contacted the appropriate insurance provider but feel they are denying you compensation you’re justified in seeking, an attorney can help you file a civil claim. After your reckless driving accident in Indiana, retaining the legal services of an empathetic lawyer can help alleviate your stress and help you to seek the justice you deserve.
At Yosha Law, we are passionate about our clients and consider them part of our family. We will help with your personal injury claim and fight for what you’re owed.