Many accidents are completely preventable, including crashes caused by reckless drivers. Operating a motor vehicle is a privilege and a responsibility. When a driver fails to take this responsibility seriously and drives recklessly, they risk the lives of everyone on the road.
It’s typically the victims of accidents caused by reckless drivers – and not the reckless drivers themselves – who suffer the greatest consequences, such as painful injuries, trauma, mountains of medical bills, lost income, and the stress of trying to navigate the claims process.
At Sumner Law Group, LLC, our St. Louis personal injury attorneys have worked hard to build our reputation for aggressively representing accident victims and helping them pursue valuable compensation.
If you have been involved in a car accident due to a reckless driver, contact our law firm today to find out how we can help you. We offer a free consultation to review your case, and you won’t have to pay us anything unless we recover money for you.
What Is Considered Reckless Driving in St. Louis?
Missouri is one of a few states that does not have a specific reckless driving law on the books. Therefore, there is no specific legal definition of reckless driving as outlined by the state.
Instead, Missouri dictates that drivers must operate vehicles in a “careful and prudent manner.” Drivers are also required to drive at a rate of speed that does not unduly danger other motorists.
In some other states, reckless driving is defined as considered unsafe driving behavior that disregards the safety of others. Examples of reckless driving typically include excessive speeding, unsafe lane changes, running a red light, tailgating, racing, or driving while intoxicated.
Reckless Driving Laws in St. Louis
Missouri’s closest thing to a reckless driving law is careless and imprudent driving. Careless and imprudent driving is subjective and is generally considered any driving behavior that poses a safety risk to other motorists.
Behaviors that may fall under the umbrella of careless and imprudent driving could include:
- Excessive speeding
- Road rage
- Street racing
- Distracted driving
- Unsafe lane changes or weaving through traffic
- Performing driving stunts
- Unnecessary braking or “brake checking”
Careless and imprudent driving is illegal and can result in a traffic ticket with demerit points being added to a driver’s record as well as criminal penalties. In addition, a reckless driver can be held civilly responsible for losses that result from a reckless driving accident.
Types of Accidents Caused by Reckless Driving
Careless and imprudent driving can cause a wide range of serious car accidents. Some of the most common types of accidents that can occur when a driver is reckless behind the wheel include:
- Rear-end collisions
- Head-on accidents
- T-bone accidents
- Intersection accidents
- High-speed accidents
- Interstate accidents
Liability for St. Louis Reckless Driving Accidents
Missouri is considered a fault state, which means that a driver responsible for causing an accident is liable for the losses suffered by the accident victims. Determining fault in an accident can be challenging. It requires gathering enough evidence to show that the other driver was negligent, meaning they failed to use reasonable care to help keep others safe on the road.
Some of the types of evidence your attorney may gather to help prove liability includes:
- Statements from eyewitnesses
- Statements from other drivers
- Testimony from expert witnesses, such as accident reconstruction specialists and medical experts
- Physical evidence from the crash
- Photos of the accident scene, vehicle damages, and visible injuries
- Videos from surveillance cameras or dashcams
- Medical records
If it’s determined that you’re partly at fault for the crash, you can still pursue compensation for your losses. However, according to Missouri’s pure comparative fault laws, your compensation would be reduced by your percentage for fault for the accident.
So, if you are found to be 10 percent at fault for the crash, your compensation would be diminished by 10 percent. Courts are bound by this rule, while insurers use it as a guide for establishing the value of a claim.
Injuries Caused by Reckless Driving Car Accidents in St. Louis
Victims of reckless driving accidents can suffer traumatic physical and mental injuries that can alter their lives forever.
Some of the most common injuries caused by reckless driving include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Facial injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Internal injuries and bleeding
- Burn injuries
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
These types of injuries can require extensive medical treatments and rehabilitation. Medical costs can quickly skyrocket, leaving a victim to deal with financial instability as well as significant injuries.
Can I Get Compensation If I’m in an Accident with a Reckless Driver?
Victims injured in car accidents with negligent drivers may be able to recover valuable compensation for their injuries. It can be argued that a driver found to be operating a vehicle in violation of careless and imprudent driving laws is a negligent driver.
Typically, when seeking compensation from an at-fault driver, the victim can recover economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages account for the victim’s measurable losses, while non-economic damages are more subjective. Non-economic damages generally include money for mental distress or quality of life changes.
Reckless driving accident victims may be compensated for losses such as:
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Lost income
- Loss of earning capacity
- Loss of quality of life
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages in exceptional cases
Having an attorney on your side can help you maximize your potential compensation. An attorney can gather the evidence and information it takes to help establish liability and give you the best chance at recovering maximum compensation.
Penalties for Reckless Driving in St. Louis
The penalties for careless and imprudent driving can vary depending on the circumstances and whether an accident was caused. Generally speaking:
- A careless and imprudent driving conviction can result in a Class B misdemeanor, with penalties including up to six months of jail time and fines up to $1,000.
- Careless and imprudent driving that causes an accident can be charged as a Class A misdemeanor, with penalties including up to one year in jail and fines up to $2,000.
- If someone’s careless and imprudent driving causes serious injuries or death, they could potentially be charged with a felony.
Drivers convicted of careless and imprudent driving will also have demerit points added to their driving record. Generally, a violation will add four demerit points to their record. In Missouri, if four points are accumulated within 12 months, the driver will receive a warning letter. If a driver gets eight points in 18 months, their license may be suspended.
Keep in mind that traffic violations involving reckless driving are a completely separate matter from civil liability for a crash. A civil court could still find a reckless driver liable for a victim’s car crash injuries, even if the driver is acquitted in criminal court or never faces charges.
Contact a St. Louis Car Accident Lawyer Today
Reckless drivers need to be held accountable for their actions. At Sumner Law Group, LLC, we help victims injured by reckless drivers in Missouri seek the financial recovery they need and deserve for car accident injuries.
Contact our reckless driving attorneys if you’ve been hurt in a St. Louis auto accident. We can outline your legal options and help you understand your rights. For a free consultation and legal advice, contact us today through our online contact form or by phone.