Atlanta injury attorney helping victims of reckless driving accidents get the justice and compensation they deserve
Were you or a loved one the victim of a reckless driving accident in Georgia?
Get the help you need from the experienced legal team at Gerber & Holder.
We’ll fight to get you and your family the justice and compensation you deserve.
In Atlanta and all across the United States, reckless driving accidents are unfortunately all-too-common occurrences, posing serious risks to both drivers and pedestrians. Characterized by a blatant disregard for the safety of others, reckless driving can lead to devastating consequences, from severe injuries to loss of life, impacting the physical, emotional and financial well-being of victims and their families.
If you’ve been a victim of a reckless driving accident in Atlanta, it’s important to know that you have legal options for seeking justice and compensation. A personal injury lawsuit can be a pathway to recovering damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
By taking legal action, you not only hold the reckless driver accountable but also secure the financial support needed for your recovery.
The reality of reckless driving accidents and fatalities
Thousands of people are injured or killed in reckless driving accidents every year in the U.S., which is nothing short of a tragedy since all of these accidents are preventable.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 10% of all car crashes in the U.S. are caused by speeding. Speeding has been shown to not only increase the likelihood of an accident but also increase the risk of fatalities during a crash.
In fact, in 2021 alone, 12,330 people died in speeding-related crashes in the U.S., accounting for 29% of all traffic fatalities. In addition to these deaths, another 328,946 people were injured that year in speeding-related accidents.
The NHTSA also reported that drunk drivers were far more likely to be involved in fatal speeding-related crashes than sober drivers. Specifically, 37% of speeding drivers had BAC levels of .08 g/dL or higher, compared to 17% of non-speeding drivers. Additionally, 25% of speeding drivers had even higher BACs of .15 g/dL or more, compared to just 11% of those not speeding.
Nationally, drunk driving accidents are responsible for about 31% of all traffic fatalities (slightly more than speeding-related accidents), claiming the lives of 13,384 people in 2021.
What behaviors qualify as reckless driving in Georgia?
In Georgia, reckless driving is defined as operating a vehicle without regard for the safety of people or property. Below are some behaviors that could be considered reckless driving:
- Excessive speeding or racing other cars
- Tailgating, brake-checking or otherwise driving aggressively
- Ignoring traffic signals (e.g., running red lights or stop signs)
- Weaving in and out of traffic or passing without signaling
- Passing in a no-passing zone
- Failing to yield the right-of-way
- Driving on the wrong side of the road
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Driving while excessively tired or drowsy
- Texting, calling, or otherwise using a mobile device while driving
It’s important to note that the penalties for reckless driving in Georgia can be severe, including fines, imprisonment, or both, as well as points added to the driver’s license, which could lead to its suspension.
What’s the penalty for reckless driving in Georgia?
Reckless driving is a serious traffic offense that implies a willful disregard for the safety of others on the road. Being convicted of this offense is a misdemeanor that carries a penalty of up to $1,000 in fines, up to 12 months in jail, or both. Courts also have the discretion to place the defendant on probation.
In the news: University of Georgia football program continues to be plagued by issues with reckless driving
Jarvis Jones, a member of the University of Georgia football coaching staff, was arrested in September 2023 on charges of reckless driving and speeding. He is the 15th individual from the program to face such charges since a fatal crash in January involving team members. Jones, who was booked and later released on a $2,400 bond, is accused of driving more than 20 mph over the speed limit.
Head coach Kirby Smart initially denied that the program had a culture problem concerning reckless driving but later acknowledged the issue, stating that measures are being taken to address it.
How could a reckless driving conviction impact compensation for accident victims?
In Georgia, a reckless driving conviction can have a significant impact on compensation for victims in personal injury cases. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense in the state, and a conviction clearly establishes the driver’s liability for the accident. This can make it much easier for the victim to claim and secure compensation for injuries, property damages, and suffering.
Moreover, the seriousness of a reckless driving offense can potentially increase the amount of damages awarded to the victim. In addition to compensatory damages, which cover medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, punitive damages may also be awarded in cases involving reckless driving. These are meant to punish the defendant and deter similar behavior in the future.
However, it’s important to consult with an attorney knowledgeable in Georgia’s personal injury laws for case-specific advice, as various factors can influence the outcome of a lawsuit.
What types of compensation can I receive in a reckless driving lawsuit?
In a successful reckless driving lawsuit in Georgia, compensation can generally be categorized into the following types of damages.
These are quantifiable financial losses directly resulting from the accident. Types of economic damages you might be awarded include:
- Medical expenses. These cover costs such as emergency room visits, hospital stays, and ongoing treatments and rehabilitation.
- Lost wages. This is compensation for the income you’ve lost while recovering from your injuries.
- Future lost earnings. If your ability to work has been impacted long-term, you may be compensated for future lost wages as well.
- Property damage. This covers the cost of repairing or replacing property, such as your vehicle, that was damaged in the accident.
Non-economic damages refer to compensation for losses that are intangible and not easily quantifiable in monetary terms. These damages aim to compensate the victim for the emotional and psychological impact of an accident or injury.
Types of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering. This is compensation for the physical pain endured due to the accident.
- Emotional distress. These are awarded for emotional and psychological suffering, such as anxiety or depression, resulting from the incident.
- Loss of companionship or consortium. This is compensation given to make up for the loss of intimacy or relationship quality with a spouse or partner due to the accident.
- Loss of enjoyment of life. This is compensation for the inability to enjoy daily activities and experiences that brought joy before the accident.
If you were thankfully able to walk away from an accident, only to start experiencing back pain in the hours or days after a crash, here’s what you need to do.
In some situations where the recklessness is especially severe, you might also receive punitive damages. These are designed to penalize the defendant and discourage similar behavior from the driver and others going forward.
It’s advisable to consult with a personal injury attorney to get an accurate estimate of the types and amounts of compensation you may be entitled to, as each case is unique.
What kind of evidence is needed to prove a driver was driving recklessly?
Proving that a driver was driving recklessly often requires multiple forms of evidence, some of which you can gather at the scene and others you can obtain with the help of an attorney.
Here are some common types of evidence used to demonstrate reckless driving:
- Police reports. A detailed police report can provide an unbiased account of the accident, including any citations for reckless behavior like speeding or running red lights.
- Eyewitness testimony. Witnesses can be crucial in providing statements that confirm reckless actions such as tailgating, erratic lane changes, or excessive speeding.
- Video footage. Dashcam videos, security camera footage, and videos taken by bystanders that visually capture the reckless behavior can be key pieces of evidence.
- Photos of the accident scene. Photographs showing factors like skid marks, vehicle damage and road conditions can be analyzed to infer reckless driving.
- Expert testimony. Accident reconstruction experts can often recreate the scene to prove that reckless driving led to the accident.
- Medical records. The severity and type of injuries can sometimes indicate the force of impact, which can also be a clue to reckless driving.
- Vehicle Data. Modern vehicles often have onboard computers that record data such as speed, brake application and steering input, which can be analyzed to show recklessness.
- Cell phone records. Usage logs can show if a driver was texting or talking on the phone at the time of the accident, which is considered a form of reckless driving.
Collecting a combination of these types of evidence can strengthen your case and help prove that the driver was acting recklessly.
What if I was partially responsible for an accident with a distracted driver?
To recover compensation for an accident, you’ll need to prove that the other party was negligent and that their negligence caused the accident and your resulting injuries.
But what happens if you were partially at fault for the accident?
In Georgia, the concept of “modified comparative negligence” applies, which means you can still recover damages even if you are partially at fault for the accident. However, your compensation will be reduced by the percentage of your own fault. Importantly, if you’re found to be 50% or more at fault, you are not entitled to recover any damages.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you were going 5 miles over the speed limit at the time of your accident, but the other driver was legally drunk, which is a far more serious offense. In this situation, both drivers could be considered negligent, but you would likely be deemed less responsible for the accident because going slightly over the speed limit is generally less dangerous than driving drunk.
In Georgia, a modified comparative negligence rule would apply to this case. Even if you were found to be 20% at fault for speeding, you could still recover 80% of the total damages from the other driver, who would be considered primarily at fault for driving while intoxicated. So, if your total award would have been $100,000, you would ultimately receive $80,000 (or 20% less).
How long do I have to file a lawsuit after a reckless driving accident in Georgia?
In Georgia, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit, including those stemming from reckless driving accidents, is generally 2 years from the date of the accident.
If the reckless driving accident resulted in a loved one’s death, the same 2-year statute of limitations applies, but the clock starts running on the day of their death, which might not necessarily be the same as the day of the accident.
In either case, if you fail to file your lawsuit within the allotted 2-year window, you may lose the right to pursue compensation.
Were you injured in a reckless driving accident? Get help from an experienced Atlanta injury attorney.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of a reckless driving accident in Georgia, please know that while filing a lawsuit can feel overwhelming, you don’t have to navigate the complex legal landscape alone. The experienced Atlanta injury attorneys at Gerber & Holder are here to answer your questions and guide you through the legal process to get you the justice and compensation you deserve.
Contact us today for a free consultation to get started.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2019, January 11). Drunk Driving. NHTSA; United States Department of Transportation. https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving
Speeding: 2021 Data 1 Speeding. (2023). https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/813473