Did Recklessness Cause Your Car Accident?

Glenn Honda | | Car Accidents
Did Recklessness Cause Your Car Accident

Reckless driving is a dangerous and irresponsible practice. Sadly, it is also a common cause of car accidents in Hawaii. Reckless driving refers to any actions that neglect the safety of others, such as speeding, weaving rapidly from lane to lane, drag racing, and similar activities. Reckless drivers often cause serious and deadly crashes with terrible consequences for injured victims. 

According to statistics from the Hawaii Department of Transportation, the state witnessed a notable reduction in traffic-related fatalities. In a recent year, there were 92 fatalities due to motor vehicle collisions across the state, marking a decrease from the 112 fatalities recorded in the previous year. This data suggests a positive trend in driving behavior across Hawaii, with noted reductions in speeding incidents and DUI offenses among truck drivers, alongside a rise in the choice of sober drivers.

Despite this encouraging trend, reckless driving remains a pressing concern in Hawaii. Not only does reckless driving lead to accidents, but distracted driving—a form of reckless behavior—has also become a significant factor in car accidents. These reckless behaviors, including using a phone while driving, eating, or even adjusting the radio, further endanger the lives of all road users. 

In the aftermath of a reckless driving accident, victims often turn to specialized legal assistance for recourse. The Recovery Law Center is your personal injury lawyer in Hawaii, representing those affected. Victims seek justice and compensation for their injuries and losses by filing a personal injury lawsuit. This legal support highlights the importance of holding reckless drivers accountable for their actions, reinforcing the need for continued efforts to improve road safety and driver responsibility.

What Is Reckless Driving?

According to Hawaii revised statute § 291-2, reckless driving occurs when someone operates a vehicle “in disregard of the safety of persons or property.” Per Hawaii’s laws, the driver’s state of mind is important when distinguishing recklessness from other types of harmful behavior, such as negligence.

When someone acts negligently, they “should be aware” that their actions present a “substantial and unjustifiable risk” to others. In other words, they act carelessly by failing to take the potential dangers of their actions into account.

However, when someone acts recklessly, they “consciously disregard” a substantial and unjustifiable risk. This means they knew or should have known that their actions could hurt others, but they did it anyway, showing indifference to others’ safety.

It’s not always easy to distinguish between negligence vs. recklessness. But reckless driving tends to include highly dangerous behaviors, such as excessive speeding or disregarding traffic signals or pedestrian right-of-way rules.

Reckless drivers charged in Hawaii face harsh penalties, which may include imprisonment for up to 30 days and up to $1,000 in fines.

What are the Reckless Driving Accident Charges in Hawaii?

Reckless Driver

Hawaii’s law HRS §291C-105 on excessive speeding is designed to punish those who speed excessively, with penalties increasing for repeat offenses.

  1. First Offense (no prior conviction in the last 5 years)
    • Fine: $500 to $1,000.
    • License Suspension: 30 days (can be reduced to 15 days with restricted driving for work).
    • Must attend a driver retraining course.
    • Additional surcharges: $25 for the neurotrauma fund and possibly up to $100 for the trauma system fund.
    • Other penalties: Driver education assessment, and either 36 hours of community service or 48 hours to 5 days in jail.
  2. Second Offense (within 5 years of a prior conviction)
    • Fine: $750 to $1,000.
    • License Suspension: 30 days with no driving allowed.
    • Must attend a driver retraining course.
    • Additional surcharges: Same as the first offense.
    • Other penalties: Driver education assessment and either 120 hours of community service or 5 to 14 days in jail, with at least 48 hours served consecutively.
  3. Third Offense (within 5 years of two prior convictions)
    • Fine: $1,000.
    • License Revocation: 90 days to 1 year.
    • Must attend a driver retraining course.
    • Jail Time: 10 to 30 days, with at least 48 hours served consecutively.
    • Additional surcharges: Same as the first and second offenses.
    • Other penalties: Driver education assessment.

Examples of Reckless Driving

Reckless driving examples include:

  • Driving significantly above the speed limit
  • Racing
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Driving while severely fatigued
  • Violating traffic and driving laws, including making an illegal turn, changing lanes improperly, driving illegally on the shoulder, or not using turn signals

Distracted driving is generally considered an act of negligence. However, using hand-held devices or texting when driving is prohibited in Hawaii, so when these actions cause a severe accident, they could be seen as acts of recklessness.

Reckless driving may occur simultaneously with negligent and criminal actions. For example, a person who commits a traffic violation such as speeding or running a red light could also be guilty of reckless driving.

Injuries Caused by Recklessness

Reckless driving can lead to any number of serious and potentially fatal injuries, such as:

reckless driving accidentMany serious injuries require long-term medical treatment and result in lifelong disabilities. Medical bills alone can be sky-high, especially when accompanied by lost wages if you cannot work. While your no-fault auto insurance benefits may cover some of these financial losses, they may not be enough to cover the full extent of your losses. A seasoned Honolulu car accident attorney can review your case to determine what legal options may be open to you.

Role of An Insurance Company in Reckless Driving Accidents 

Insurance in reckless driving accidents is pivotal in providing financial protection and ensuring victims receive compensation for damages and injuries. It plays an essential role in the aftermath of an accident, from handling car accident claims to working with insurance companies to settle insurance claims. 

When a reckless driving incident occurs, the at-fault driver’s insurance company is typically responsible for covering the damages. This process begins when the victim or their representative files a car accident claim with the insurance company. The claim is an official request for compensation for the damages suffered, such as medical expenses, property damage, and any other losses incurred due to the accident.

Insurance companies assess car accident claims based on the evidence provided, including:

  • Police reports
  • Witness statements
  • Other documentation that proves the reckless nature of the other driver’s behavior

Reckless driving, particularly aggressive driving or a willful or wanton disregard for the rules of the road, can significantly influence the outcome of an insurance claim. Insurers may consider such behavior when determining liability and the amount of compensation to be awarded.

Talk to a Car Accident Lawyer Today

Examining the driving behaviors involved is important to determine if recklessness caused your car accident. Reckless driving behaviors—such as speeding, ignoring traffic signals, or driving under the influence—can indicate that a reckless driver was at fault.

This behavior may not only constitute negligence but also strengthen personal injury claims, facilitating the process of financial recovery for the injured party. Victims may be entitled to fair compensation for their losses, including punitive damages to penalize the negligent party.

Consulting with a car accident attorney is advisable to ensure a thorough evaluation and to maximize the chances of receiving fair compensation. An experienced attorney can help you with personal injury claims, advocating for your rights and aiming for possible financial recovery.

If you or someone you know suffered injuries in a reckless driving accident, talk to an Oahu car accident lawyer at Recovery Law Center today.

Glenn T. Honda

For over 29 years, attorney Glenn Honda has helped people injured in accidents throughout Hawaii get the best outcome for their case, whether it’s maximizing their settlement, or balancing costs and risks vs. putting the whole experience behind them. As the founding attorney of the Recovery Law Center, he is passionate about helping his clients with their physical, emotional and financial recovery. Mr. Honda will fight to get you coverage for your medical bills, lost wages, damaged property and other costs related to your accident.

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