In some states, reckless driving is a criminal offense that's charged when a driver commits a specific traffic violation or exceeds a certain speed. However, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, reckless driving is open to interpretation. As a misdemeanor criminal offense, it can be charged when an officer determines the driver operated their vehicle in a manner that was likely to result in death or serious injury to another person, and that they failed to appreciate the risk caused by their driving. It's often charged in addition to offenses such as speeding or drunk driving.
If you're injured in an accident caused by a reckless driver, you'll have a strong claim for damages.
What Might Be Considered Reckless Driving in Massachusetts?
Under the definition in Massachusetts, reckless driving is more about a person's intention than the law they broke. If the individual displays a wanton disregard for the consequences of their unsafe driving, they could be charged with reckless driving. The following actions may incur a charge of reckless driving on top of other traffic violations:
- Excessive speed. There's clearly a difference between going 70 in a 65 mph zone and going 70 in a 45 mph zone. The latter is much more likely to cause an accident. Exceeding the speed limit by more than 15 or 20 mph may be charged as reckless driving in addition to speeding.
- Drag racing. When two drivers use local public roads or interstate highways to race each other, they're showing a clear intention to break the law. Whether a bystander or other motorist is injured or killed by the drag racer or not, they could be charged with reckless driving, in addition to other violations.
- Passing a school bus. It's illegal to pass a school bus when it's dropping off or picking up passengers, and its stop sign is out. In addition to the charge of passing a school bus, the motorist could also be charged with reckless driving for showing complete disregard for children’s safety.
- Running a red light. Driving through a red light or stop sign without stopping shows a wanton disregard for the safety of others and could be charged as reckless driving as well as running a red light.
- Weaving in and out of traffic. Playing “pole position” or driving erratically to try to get past traffic is reckless, even if the person behind the wheel isn't exceeding the speed limit.
- Road rage and aggressive driving. Targeting other drivers out of anger or frustration can lead to criminal charges, including assault with a deadly weapon and negligent operation of a vehicle. If these charges cannot be proved in court, the driver might instead be charged with reckless driving.
- Impaired or distracted driving. By definition, driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is likely to result in injury or death to another person, as is a motorist taking their eyes off the road to read a text or pick up a sandwich. DUIs and distracted driving charges could be supplemented by a reckless driving charge if the responding officer sees fit.
As the victim of a reckless driver, you can sue who caused your crash if you incurred at least $2,000 in reasonable medical expenses, and/or your injuries resulted in permanent and serious disfigurement, fractured bones, or substantial loss of hearing or sight. Otherwise, under Massachusetts’ no-fault laws, your insurance company would cover your expenses.
How a Car Accident Attorney Can Help
If you were seriously injured or a loved one was killed in a crash caused by a reckless driver, there should be no question of fault, and they should be held accountable. However, even with a conviction on reckless driving charges, the insurance company for the person at fault will do all it can to avoid paying on your claim.
Fight fire with fire by hiring the experienced car accident attorneys at Mahaney & Pappas. We'll build a strong claim that includes the driver’s criminal conviction on reckless driving charges to get you the compensation you deserve.