Recklessness is a legal concept that applies to the fields of both criminal law and personal injury litigation. It occurs whenever someone takes a risk knowing that their actions may result in someone else being harmed. DUIs, for example, are sometimes reduced to a reckless driving charge called a wet reckless.
What Is the Difference Between Recklessness and Negligence?
As we mentioned above, recklessness can apply in both criminal cases and civil lawsuits. Criminal recklessness can only occur when the defendant (or the person on trial) makes a conscious decision to disregard the risks associated with their actions and proceeds despite foreseeable harm. Defending a recklessness charge often involves explaining the defendant’s frame of mind.
In civil concerns, recklessness is a step above negligence. Negligence is a failure to exercise reasonable care and often applies when the defendant makes an honest mistake. On the other hand, recklessness involves a knowing disregard for the safety of others. For example, a driver who accidentally rear-ends someone because they are adjusting the air conditioning would be negligent, but someone who rear-ends someone while tailgating them would be reckless. The difference here is that adjusting the air conditioning does not cause accidents with nearly as much frequency as tailgating and other aggressive driving behaviors do. While the driver who was momentarily distracted was acting carelessly, the person who was tailgating knew what the consequences of their actions could be and acted without regard to safety.
If someone purposefully rams the back of another vehicle during a road rage incident, their actions have gone beyond recklessness and may be addressed an intentional tort.
Other Situations Where Recklessness Applies
Although car accidents are good for showing the nuances of recklessness, this legal concept can come into play in many different situations.
Recklessness could apply in the following situations:
- Using illegal substances in a public area
- Carrying a concealed weapon without a license
- Endangering a child
- Knowingly exposing someone to a sexually transmitted disease
Once again, if you have been charged with recklessness, your frame of mind is important. Hiring a criminal defense attorney can help you account for your actions and fight or reduce your charges.
Tell Us Your Story Today
Depending on your situation, you may need help facing a recklessness charge or assistance holding reckless individuals accountable. No matter what you’re facing, May, Rammell & Wells can help.
Call us at (208) 623-8021 today to discuss your case – and don’t forget to schedule a free consultation.
We hope we have helped you understand the concept of recklessness, and we look forward to the opportunity to navigate the legal system by your side.