Every driver in the State of Florida is required to drive safely and legally in order to comply with traffic laws, including driving in a safe, sensible manner. However, reckless driving is, unfortunately, one of the most common causes of traffic accidents, including side-impact collisions in the state.
If you’ve been involved in a side-impact or reckless driving accident, get in touch with The Law Place today. We offer a number of legal services, including criminal defense, litigation, and personal injury. Our team of experienced attorneys can provide specialist legal advice and support to try to reduce any criminal charges or to pursue compensation if you have suffered injuries.
To book your free consultation with one of our qualified lawyers, call our office today on (941) 444-4444.
What Is Reckless Driving?
According to Florida Statute 316.192, reckless driving occurs when any person drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.
Reckless driving behaviors include:
- Exceeding the speed limit.
- Failure to observe stop signs.
- Running red lights.
- Weaving in and out of traffic.
- Driving into oncoming traffic.
Reckless driving could be caused by drivers who:
- Engage in dangerous driving behaviors such as road rage.
- Drive whilst under the influence of illegal drugs such as those laid out in the 5 drug schedules of Florida Statute 893.03.
- Drive with a breath alcohol level of 0.08 or above. (This is classed as ‘driving under the influence’ according to Florida Statute 316.193.)
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How Does Reckless Driving Cause Side-Impact Accidents?
Reckless driving can cause many different types of traffic accidents. However, it could specifically cause a side-impact accident if a driver:
- Weaves in and out of traffic on a highway but fails to properly check that the lane they are moving into is empty.
- Swerves erratically into another vehicle.
- Do not stop at a red light or stop sign and drive into the side of an oncoming vehicle.
In addition, reckless driving can lead to other accidents, including:
- Head-on collisions.
- Rear-end collisions.
- Car pileups.
Penalties for Reckless Driving Accidents
The penalty you could receive for being a reckless driver in the State of Florida depends on the specifics of your case. Some factors which affect reckless driving include:
- Whether or not this was your first traffic offense.
- Whether another individual was injured or killed as a result of your reckless driving.
- Whether or not you were committing another crime, such as fleeing a crime scene.
- Whether or not you caused significant property damage as a result of driving recklessly.
- The reason for your reckless driving – for example, you are likely to receive a harsher penalty if you were driving whilst intoxicated.
Some common reckless driving charges and penalties include:
Driving With Willful or Wanton Disregard
The punishment for reckless driving with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of other road users or physical property is:
- Imprisonment of up to 90 days and a fine of between $25 and $500 for first-time offenders.
- Imprisonment of up to 6 months and a fine of between $50 and $500 for any subsequent convictions.
Reckless Driving With Property Damage or Injury
Individuals who damage property or cause injury to another individual can receive:
- A first-degree misdemeanor conviction for damaging property through reckless driving. This is punishable by a fine of up to $500 and up to 60 days in prison, according to Florida Statute 775.083.
- A third-degree felony conviction for causing serious injuries, punishable with a fine of up to $5,000 and up to 5 years in prison.
Reckless Driving With a DUI Charge
Often, reckless driving accidents are caused by individuals who drive whilst under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. In this case, those convicted could receive:
- A first-degree misdemeanor conviction for property damage through DUI.
- A third-degree felony conviction for causing serious injuries.
- A DUI manslaughter conviction if anyone is killed, which is a second-degree felony.
- A minimum of 50 hours of community service.
- Up to 1 year of probation.
- Mandatory rehabilitation at an alcohol or substance abuse center.
If you are facing criminal charges for reckless driving or a side-impact accident, it’s important to get in touch with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Personal Injury From a Side-Impact Collision With a Reckless Driver
It may be the case that you were injured due to someone’s reckless driving. If you are the victim of a car accident, you have a number of options when it comes to recovering damages:
- Personal injury protection insurance – According to Florida Statute 627.7407, Florida is a no-fault state. Therefore, the first way to receive compensation for short-term damages is through the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance that you’re required to possess in order to be a legal road user. The amount of PIP compensation you receive will depend on the extent of your cover as well as the extent of your injuries and will be paid to you regardless of whether or not you were at fault for the motor vehicle accident.
- Filing a claim against the at-fault driver – If you suffered injuries due to another driver’s negligence, you could file a claim against them. Your lawyer will negotiate with the at-fault driver’s insurance company to reach a settlement agreement. This is an amount of compensation that will be paid to you without taking your case to court.
- Suing the at-fault driver – You also have the option of filing a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who caused your accident to take your case before a court of law.
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What to Do If You Are Involved in a Side-Impact Accident
If you’re involved in a side-impact car accident, whether or not it was caused by reckless driving, you’ll need to:
Comply With Law Enforcement and Remain at the Scene
Whether or not you caused an accident, you’ll need to remain at the scene until you have fulfilled your obligation to render aid to other drivers (if necessary) and provide information to law enforcement under Florida Statute 316.062. This is especially important if you caused the accident, as you could face a hit-and-run charge if you choose to flee.
Receive Medical Attention
You should also make sure to receive medical attention if you are suffering from any injuries. According to Florida Statute 627.736, you’ll need to seek medical attention within 14 days in order to be eligible to pursue compensation. You should also keep a record of any medical expenses and any diagnoses as these will be necessary should you choose to pursue compensation at a later date.
Contact a Lawyer
You should contact a lawyer as soon as possible whether or not you were at fault for the car accident you were involved in. If you are facing criminal charges, you’ll need to work with a criminal defense lawyer. If you were hit by a reckless driver, you should contact a personal injury attorney. Here at The Law Place, we offer both services.
Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company
If possible, you should find legal representation before reporting an accident to your insurance company. Your lawyer will be able to handle all communications to make sure you don’t do anything to harm your claim. You are usually required to report a traffic accident within 24 hours.
Contact The Law Place – Lawyers Specialized in Car Accidents
If you’ve been involved in a side-impact crash, contact The Law Place today. Our team work around the clock to provide you with the help and support you need to achieve the best possible case outcome for you.
Here at The Law Place, we offer both criminal defense and personal injury services. So, we can help you understand your legal options regardless of whether or not you were at fault for a crash. We can also help you to recover compensation, including medical bills, lost wages, and more.
In addition, we offer a free initial consultation to all of our new clients. We want you to be sure you’re working with the right professional for the job and that you have a good attorney-client relationship before you commit to working with us. We also work on a no-win, no-fee basis, so you can be confident we’re working day and night to win your case.
We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So, there’s always a team member waiting to take your call. To book your free case evaluation, call our office today on (941) 444-4444.