Albuquerque Reckless Driving 

Most car accidents are caused by negligence, which occurs when a driver makes a mistake that leads to an accident. However, some are caused by recklessness, in which a driver disregards the safety of others, increasing the likelihood of a collision. When someone’s reckless actions cause you to suffer injuries, this can impact your personal injury claim in important ways. An experienced Albuquerque car crash attorney from Caruso Law Offices can explain your legal rights and options.

What Is Reckless Driving?

Reckless driving is actually a crime in New Mexico that can subject violators to criminal penalties. Under § 66-8-113, reckless driving occurs when a person drives a vehicle “carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others” without due caution at a speed or manner that endangers others or property.

Examples of Reckless Driving

Some examples of reckless driving include:

  • Excessive speeding
  • Aggressive driving
  • Weaving in and out of lanes
  • Running red lights or stop signs
  • Street racing
  • Not turning on lights when driving at night or in inclement weather

Reckless driving often involves intentionally disregarding others’ safety. It can also include knowingly driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

How Reckless Driving Causes Accidents

Reckless driving increases the odds of crashes. All drivers are required to follow traffic laws and avoid accidents. You reasonably expect other drivers to follow these rules. Reckless drivers act unpredictably – you don’t expect them to weave through lanes or run red lights. You can’t anticipate these actions – or avoid them.

If a crash does occur, it is more likely to be severe because higher speeds are usually involved. Reckless driving accidents often result in catastrophic injuries and deaths.

Damages You Can Seek After a Reckless Driving Accident

Car accident victims can recover compensatory damages for the accident-related losses they suffered, such as:

  • Past, current, and future medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Reduced earning capacity
  • Costs to repair or replace a damaged vehicle
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress

However, unlike most car accident cases that involve negligence, you may be able to seek punitive damages in a case involving reckless driving. In New Mexico, courts can award punitive damages in cases where the defendant’s acts were malicious, willful, reckless, wanton, fraudulent, or made in bad faith.

Unlike other types of damages that are meant to compensate victims for their losses, punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant and deter others from acting similarly. The court determines the amount of punitive damages to award based on reason and justice, considering all the circumstances, including the nature of the acts and aggravating factors. The award must be reasonably related to the injury and proportionate to the circumstances.

How a Criminal Reckless Driving Case Can Affect Your Personal Injury Claim

Because your case may have involved criminal conduct, it is possible that the defendant may be facing criminal charges at the time your personal injury case is pending. Knowing how this separate criminal case may affect your personal injury claim is important.

If the defendant is found guilty of a reckless driving charge, this can help your case. You may be able to use the evidence the prosecutor presented in the criminal case. However, if the defendant was not convicted, you can still recover compensation for a civil claim. Your financial recovery is not conditioned on the outcome of an underlying criminal case. Criminal cases have a higher burden of proof than civil ones.

Are You Ready to Fight for Compensation After a Reckless Driving Crash?

At Caruso Law Offices, our car accident attorneys fight to protect the rights of victims injured by the negligence or recklessness of others. Contact us today for a free case review.

Join us at the All-Out-Call-Out event at Albuquerque Dragway on June 8th.