Traffic accidents are on the rise, and in 2015, there was a sharp increase in traffic fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. While the original impact of a collision is terrible, the aftereffects can be equally as traumatizing and troubling. Post traumatic stress disorder can flare up weeks, months, or even years down the road, not to mention the long-lasting aches, pains, and serious debilitations that come with a serious car accident. One of the troubling aspects about a car accident where the driver displayed profound negligence that resulted in you or your loved ones being seriously injured is the lack of punishment they may receive. Even if their actions caused a life-lasting injury or death, they may seem to walk away with a mere slap on the wrist. Unfortunately, this is the case all too often, as it is incredibly difficult to permanently strip (or even temporarily strip) a driver of their license, no matter how negligent they were and how many accidents they have caused in the past. One of the biggest distinctions between punishments is a citation of reckless versus careless driving. What is more frustrating is that the injuries or deaths of the victims of the crash are not taken into account when the sentence is passed down. The good news is that if you have been hit and injured by a negligent driver, either reckless or careless, you have the opportunity to file a lawsuit or settle for compensation. Contact an experienced Columbus car accident attorney today to learn more.
Reckless Driving in the State of Ohio
When you find out what charges have been given to the driver that caused you or your loved one’s serious injury or death, you may be wondering what exactly that charge means. A charge of careless driving is a very minor offense, and often does not carry a heavy punishment or burden on their driver’s license. However, reckless driving is a much higher offense. According to Ohio state law, reckless driving is described as operation of a motor vehicle with “willful or wanton disregard of the safety of persons or property.”
The first violation of this law is a misdemeanor. If that driver violates this law within 12 months of committing one other predicate motor vehicle or traffic offense, they get a misdemeanor in the fourth degree, and if a driver is convicted of reckless driving during a year when they have been convicted of two or more predicate motor vehicle or traffic offenses, they are sentenced with a misdemeanor in the third degree.
Example of reckless driving can include speeding, swerving, driving on the wrong side of the road, improper lane changes, and other traffic violations. Likewise, speeding, improper lane changes, and swerving can also be counted as careless driving. In the end, it is up to the district attorney, judge, and police officer that issued the citation to decide what falls under careless or reckless driving. The breaking point from careless to reckless driving are the terms “willful or wanton disregard,” meaning the driver had to be knowingly putting the lives’ of others at risk.
If you or a loved one have been injured by a careless or reckless driver, contact an experienced Columbus, Ohio car accident attorney with the law offices of the Ohio Car Accident Lawyers today for a free consultation.