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What is the difference between negligence and recklessness?

When West Virginia residents hear of a car accident caused by someone else's behavior, they may be quick to assume the driver was negligent or reckless. Though these terms are often used interchangeably, they actually have legal meanings attached to them and these terms help determine who is responsible in a car crash and who can be held liable for compensation as well.

When it is said that a driver was negligent, that means they were careless or engaged in inadvertent behavior that led to harm or damage. This is generally the most common factor in car accidents. Negligence can be in the form of neglecting to do something, such as failing to yield to the right of way, or actively doing something, such as running a red light.

In certain situations, there is also a presumption of negligence which the driver who caused the accident must disprove. This happens when the driver violated a traffic law-most states have codified the manner in which vehicles must be operated on the roadways. When these laws are violated, negligence is established as a matter of law by citing the statute that was violated.

Recklessness on the other hand, is the willful disregard of the safety of others. An example could be drunk driving, where the driver has intentionally wrong conduct. However, establishing negligence or recklessness can often be complicated, especially when there is more than one vehicle involved or when an uninsured or underinsured driver has caused the accident. Accident victims already have enough on their plate with recovering from their injuries-they may benefit from consulting an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help them get the accountability they deserve.

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Stephen P. New, Attorney at Law
114 Main Street
Beckley, WV 25801

Phone: 304-250-3280
Toll Free: 888-692-8084
Fax: 304-250-6012

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