What Is Recklessness in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

What Is Recklessness in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Sometimes people confuse or misuse the terms recklessness and negligence in a personal injury lawsuit. It is easy to conflate these concepts because their legal definitions differ from their general use. When an individual deems someone or something negligent or reckless, they imply that someone acted carelessly. However, it is important to make the distinction between negligence and recklessness in the legal realm. Negligence and recklessness in law indicate two different levels of fault that will produce varying consequences for the defendant. 

What Is Negligence?

We have explored the concept of negligence in many of our posts, but here is a quick recap. If a person suffers injuries due to another entity’s negligence, the responsible party did not exercise ordinary care. There is a duty of care that companies, manufacturers, and people must uphold. In a case of alleged negligence, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant violated their duty of care which caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Breach of duty occurs when a person or firm breaks this oath. Negligence deals with carelessness, where the defendant did not behave in a manner that a reasonable person acting with prudence would have under similar circumstances. 

Negligence can apply to civil and criminal cases and in countless situations. The plaintiff must prove that the individuals breached the duty of care and that this violation directly resulted in the plaintiff’s damages or suffering. A few examples of negligence include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Failing to put up a wet floor sign
  • Medical malpractice 
  • A landlord not replacing a hazardous step on the stairs 

Is Recklessness Different Than Negligence?

Negligence is when someone should have done something but did not, while recklessness is a more severe offense than mere negligence. In a personal injury lawsuit, recklessness refers to a situation where someone is aware of the consequences but deliberately decides to act regardless of the risks. Recklessness involves a willful disregard for the well-being of others. 

For instance, we mentioned that distracted driving, such as being on a cell phone, is a form of negligence. Yet, causing an accident while driving drunk or under the influence is an example of recklessness. Misdiagnosis falls under medical malpractice, which generally constitutes negligence. Meanwhile, a medical professional who performs surgery or a procedure for which they do not have a license is a case of recklessness. 

In cases of recklessness, all of the criteria for negligence must be met, but there is an added layer of egregious or appalling behavior linked to the breach of duty. 

What Types of Compensation Can I Recover for Recklessness?

When the defendant is accused of recklessness, the plaintiff can recover forms of compensation typical in a personal injury lawsuit. For recklessness, the victim can secure compensatory damages which cover: 

  • Past and future medical expenses 
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering 
  • Property damage
  • Other economic losses related to your injury

In addition to compensatory damage, a court may award the victim of recklessness punitive damages. Punitive damages, also known as “exemplary damages,” punish the defendant for their reckless conduct. Punitive damages intend to dissuade the defendant and others from engaging in similar behavior in the future. Courts do not award punitive damages as often compared to compensatory damages. However, punitive damages may be more likely if the defendant’s actions were extreme and if they understood the risks of their dangerous behavior. Therefore, punitive damages are more probable in a personal injury lawsuit concerning recklessness. 

How Our Law Firm Can Help You

The attorneys at The Lake Law Firm are on standby to discuss your potential claim if you or a loved one suffered injuries due to the recklessness of another. Although recklessness is not to the degree of an intentional act, a person who acted recklessly knowingly ignored the risks of their actions. When a person or entity behaves recklessly, their goal is not to hurt someone. However, they were aware their reckless behavior could jeopardize the public’s safety. 

The Lake Law Firm was founded by Edward J. Lake, Esq., a personal injury lawyer for over 25 years. Our dedicated team of attorneys is committed to seeking justice on behalf of those who have suffered injury or death due to the negligence of others. Our experienced attorneys handle many different types of pharmaceutical drugs, medical devices, and other defective products. The lawyers in our firm have helped collect millions of dollars for their clients. The Lake Law Firm will advocate for you and your rights. Please contact us for a free confidential case evaluation at (888) 274-0139.