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Tennessee Reckless Driving Laws

Posted by Harlene Labrum | Apr 11, 2022 | 0 Comments

Every person in society has a duty to act responsibly and avoid acting in ways that can cause harm or injury to others. Road safety is one area of our lives that is regulated to ensure that every road user acts responsibly towards others because of the inherent dangers involved in road transportation. A 2019 report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute showed that the rate of deaths per 100,000 population in Tennessee was higher than the national average. Tennessee, like other states, has enacted laws to punish reckless drivers and protect road users from harm. If you are injured by a reckless driver, you might be entitled to compensation for any losses you suffer as a result of your injury. If you have questions about how an attorney can help you understand Tennessee reckless driving laws, call Labrum Law at 615-338-9500 or visit us online to schedule a consultation with one of our accident attorneys.

What is Reckless Driving?

Tennessee law prohibits reckless driving. The law in Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-10-205 defines reckless driving as the “willful or wanton disregard for the safety” of other road users and property by a driver is reckless driving.

Because the law does not list specific activities that describe what willful or wanton disregard for safety is, it is fair to say that reckless driving encompasses a wide range of activities which put the safety of others at risk. Some activities that can constitute reckless driving for automobile drivers include:

  • texting while driving;
  • engaging in distracting activities like telephone conversations;
  • speeding;
  • ignoring speed limits; and
  • ignoring road signs.
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The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security statistics show that as of June 30, in 2021, there have been approximately 600 deaths and over 22,000 injuries from crashes in Tennessee.

In addition to disregarding the safety of other road users, a driver commits the offence of reckless driving by ignoring adequate flood warnings and driving into a flooded area. Such drivers may also be required to pay restitution for the cost incurred to rescue them, in addition to the prescribed punishment for the offence. A motorcycle driver accused of reckless driving into a flood can excuse their actions if they can show that they acted in response to an emergency.

Common Injuries Resulting From Reckless Driving

Because reckless drivers often endanger the pubic, resulting injuries may be severe. Injuries from reckless driving include broken bones, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, concussions, and death.  Accidents involving multiple vehicles are common with reckless drivers because of a high rate of speed or a failure to stop at a red light or stop sign. These accidents often cause whiplash-type injuries due to the sudden movement of the head and neck that accompanies a collision. These types of injuries can result in lifelong pain and discomfort that cannot be completely remedied through medical procedures or surgery.

Since people involved in these types of accidents often incur serious injury as well as vehicle damage/repair costs, they might consider consulting an attorney at Labrum Law about filing personal injury claims for compensation.

Penalty for the Offense of Reckless Driving

Reckless driving in Tennessee is a serious offense. Any person who violates the reckless driving laws in Tennessee commits a Class B misdemeanor which is punishable by imprisonment of up to six months or fines of up to $500, or both. While these penalties may seem minor, reckless driving can cause accidents with very grave consequences.  For example, when reckless driving results in the death of another person. Apart from the civil consequences of a wrongful death, the reckless driver may face criminal charges with stiffer penalties like vehicular homicide or criminally negligent homicide.

Negligence vs. Recklessness

Apart from criminal penalties, a reckless driver could also face civil liability under a legal doctrine called negligence. While the objective of criminal penalties is to punish a wrongdoer, the objective of a negligence or personal injury suit is to recover monetary compensation for the injured person.

Generally, the injured person must successfully prove all the elements of negligence to be entitled to compensation. The elements of negligence that an injured person must prove are:

  1. That the wrongdoer owed them a duty of care. Drivers and operators of vehicles owe a duty of care to other road users. They must use reasonable care to avoid causing foreseeable injuries to others.
  2. The injured person must show that the wrongdoer breached their duty of care.
  3. They must prove that the breach of duty was the legal cause of their injury.
  4. They must prove that they suffered actual damages as a result of their injury.

In order to get compensation, the injured person must prove all elements of negligence as stated.

How a Car Accident Attorney Can Help Victims of Tennessee Reckless Driving

Victims of Tennessee reckless driving may feel overwhelmed and unsure of their next steps.  Obtaining fair and just compensation following a car accident can be a legally complicated and challenging process.

A reckless driver may try to deny responsibility for the accident they caused and blame the injured person. An insurance company can use manipulative tactics in order to avoid paying the amount a victim deserves under the law. A victim may not understand the full amount of compensation they are due under the law for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.

An experienced car accident attorney can work with medical experts, accident reconstruction experts, and economic experts to gather the necessary evidence to prove a negligence case. The wrongdoer and their insurance company may offer a settlement, which may not be enough to cover the past and future losses that the injured person will bear. An aggressive attorney will ensure that victims receive the amount they deserve under the law.

If you suffered injuries and losses in a reckless driving incident in Tennessee, you do not have to figure out your next course of action on your own. Consider visiting with our experienced legal team to learn how you may have the right to receive justice and compensation under the Tennessee reckless driving laws intended to protect victims of car accidents. Call Labrum Law at 615-338-9500 or visit us online to schedule a consultation with one of our compassionate car accident attorneys.

About the Author

Harlene Labrum

Harlene is focused and passionate about helping those injured in car wrecks.  She earned her J.D. at Nashville School of Law and her Bachelor's degree at State University of New York at Albany, awarded with the highest GPA and high honors.  Harlene began her career in law as a personal injury par...

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