If someone runs a red light or a stop sign and crashes into your car, it’s clear they made a mistake, and therefore you can sue them for damages. However, the Pennsylvania court will look into the details of the incident to determine if it was indeed reckless driving, which is illegal in the state.
What constitutes reckless driving?
Pennsylvania has a distinction between reckless driving and careless driving. Although both charges are used when a driver behaves in a way that puts others at risk, they are different, as are the penalties or even the compensation you might get as a victim.
Reckless driving is when a driver drives with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others. And, careless driving is when a driver fails to be cautious while operating their vehicle and, as a result, endangers others.
Punitive damages for reckless driving
If you are hit by a driver who is found guilty of reckless driving, you may be able to get punitive damages in addition to any other compensation that might be awarded. Punitive damages for motor vehicle accidents are meant to punish the driver for their wrong deed and to deter future bad driving behavior. The amount you may get will depend on factors, such as how much harm was caused and how flagrant the driver’s actions were.
Comparative fault and possible compensation
Pennsylvania is a comparative-fault state, which means that, if you are found to be even partially at fault for an accident, it could affect the amount of compensation you would receive. For example, you are stopped at a red light when another car runs the light and crashes into you. The other driver is clearly at fault. However, if the police investigation finds that you had been texting on your phone just before the accident, you’d also be held slightly at fault for the accident because it is illegal to text at a red light. Therefore, your compensation would be reduced by the percentage of fault that the jury assigns to you.
If you were the victim of a reckless driver’s motor vehicle accident, you could get punitive damages, as well as any other compensation that may be awarded.