Wilmington Reckless Driving Accident Lawyers
Legal Help for Victims of Reckless Driving Injuries in North Carolina
Traffic crashes across North Carolina rose by 6.3% in 2016. Pedestrians killed in accidents involving vehicles were up 1.5%, and crashes with teen drivers rose by 4.8%. Many of these collisions can be attributed to driver recklessness. Examples of negligent behaviors include running a red light, failing to yield, tailgating, and more. If a driver exhibits multiple negligent behaviors or pairs any negligent behavior with speeding, this may be considered reckless driving. Drivers convicted of reckless driving will face penalties and, if they cause accidents that hurt people, can be sued for the victims’ medical expenses, pain, and suffering.
If you have been injured in an accident with a reckless driver, you may be entitled to significant compensation and should contact a Wilmington car accident attorney at Rhine Law Firm, P.C., for a free consultation.
NC Reckless Driving Statute
Under North Carolina’s § 20-140 statute, reckless driving is defined as operating a vehicle in a careless and heedless manner "demonstrating willful or wanton disregard" for the safety or others or driving "without due caution and circumspection and at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property." Violations are a Class 2 misdemeanor and may be punishable by up to 60 days of jail time and fines up to $1,000.
Speeding or Tailgating
Last year, 32.2% of all vehicle fatalities in North Carolina involved speeding, totaling approximately 89,839 crashes. Under most circumstances, exceeding the posted limit by more than 15 miles per hour is considered reckless driving. The law also requires that you maintain sufficient distance between your vehicle and a vehicle traveling ahead. The Charlotte Observer reported aggressive driving actions such as tailgating (following too closely) caused roughly 31,000 collisions in 2015. Though tailgating is not automatically classified as "reckless," it certainly can be if it contributes to an accident.
Some states allow certain driving while impaired (DWI) charges to be reduced to "wet reckless" charges – that is, reckless driving caused by alcohol. The penalties and fines are likewise diminished, though insurance rates will probably still go up. However, North Carolina only allows this in few, select counties, and a person who has a prior DWI can never receive a wet reckless charge. To qualify, the person must usually have a borderline 0.08% blood alcohol concentration, with no property damage or personal injury done in the accident.
Reckless Driving and NC’s Contributory Negligence
North Carolina is one of the toughest states in the nation when it comes to personal injury claims. The doctrine of contributory negligence means that a victim cannot recover any compensation if he or she was partially at fault for the accident that caused injury – as little as 1% at fault.
There is one other exception to contributory negligence, "the last clear chance" doctrine. In this scenario, a driver who exhibits one act of negligence and cannot stop the impending crash is less liable than another driver who had the opportunity to avoid the accident, but did not. This is used as both a legal offense and a legal defense in contributory negligence cases.
However, this doctrine only applies to negligence. If a person crashes his car into another vehicle through reckless behavior as defined by statute §20-140, not ordinary negligence, then he or she is liable for the damages, medical bills, and other expenses caused by the accident. Reckless driving accident lawsuits, for the most part, do not fall under the contributory negligence umbrella.
Construction (Work) Zones
In 2016, roughly 50% of work zone crashes were caused by speeding and/or distracted driving. Penalties are heightened within these zones, which are clearly marked with orange signs and/or "flaggers" – people in orange vests handling traffic control. In these dangerous stretches of road, law enforcement may be more likely to cite drivers for reckless driving.
Penalties: Reckless Driving
A point system exists for traffic violations that accumulate in the prior three-year period. If you accumulate 12 points in a three-year period, you may face up to a one-year license suspension. Here are examples of point-based violations:
- Passing around a stopped school bus: 5
- Aggressive driving: 5
- Recklessly driving: 4
- Tailgating: 4
- Failing to yield to pedestrians: 4
- Running a red light or stop sign: 3
Suspensions are a potential consequence for reckless drivers. For example, those convicted of speeding two times at over 55 mph in a 12-month span, or racing another vehicle, will face suspension of their driver’s licenses.
Wilmington Lawyers for Injury Victims in Car Accidents
Have you or a loved one been injured in an accident caused by a reckless or careless driver? The accident injury attorneys at Rhine Law Firm, P.C., have the experience and resources to obtain the financial retribution that you deserve. You may have a limited period of time to pursue a claim; contact us today for a free consultation at (910) 772-9960 or (866) 772-9960.
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