A driver may face misdemeanor or felony charges for reckless driving in Illinois. If you’ve been hurt in a car crash and you believe that the other driver acted recklessly, then you may be interested in both the criminal and civil consequences of reckless driving. Both types of consequences are important, but they are significantly different.
Criminal Reckless Driving Cases
625 ILCS Sec. 11-503 defines the crimes of reckless driving and aggravated reckless driving in Illinois. According to the law:
- Reckless driving occurs when a person drives any vehicle with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of other people or property. Reckless driving also occurs when a driver uses an incline, such a railroad crossing, bridge approach, or hill, to become airborne. Unless the law provides a specific exception, reckless driving is a Class A misdemeanor. Reckless driving may be a class 4 felony if it causes bodily harm to a child or school crossing who is performing official duties.
- Aggravated reckless driving occurs when reckless driving causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or disfigurement. If the person who suffers great bodily harm, permanent disability, or disfigurement is a child or crossing guard performing official duties, then this type of aggravated reckless driving is a class 3 felony. Otherwise, a reckless driver who causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or disfigurement is guilty of a class 4 felony.
Depending on the unique circumstances of each case, the potential penalties may include jail time, fines, or both fines and jail time. A criminal case will not, however, result in a financial recovery for any victims of a reckless driving accident.
Civil Reckless Driving Lawsuits
If you’ve been hurt or your loved one died in a reckless driving accident, then you will need to pursue a personal injury case to recover compensation for your car accident injuries or loss.
While the same evidence that is used in the criminal reckless driving case may also be used in your civil personal injury case, the cases are very different. To recover damages in a civil case, you do not need to prove that the driver acted willfully or wantonly. Instead, you need to prove that the driver was negligent by providing evidence that:
- The driver owed you a duty of care. All Illinois drivers owe all other motorists, passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists a duty of care.
- The driver breached the duty of care. The duty of care requires Illinois drivers to act as other reasonable Illinois drivers would in similar circumstances. The failure to act as a reasonable driver would act is a breach of the duty of care.
- The driver caused your injuries. Your injuries must have occurred because of the driver’s actions or inactions.
- You have the legal right to recover damages in Illinois. Your damages may include, but aren’t limited to, past and future healthcare costs, out-of-pocket expenses, lost income, pain, and suffering.
While the standard of proof in a civil case is lower than it is in a criminal case, you should not rely solely on an arrest or even a criminal conviction to prove your civil case.
Take Action If a Reckless Driver Hurts You
A reckless driver may have changed the direction of your life. Instead of working, spending time doing things you enjoy, or enjoying the company of your loved one, you are now physically injured or mourning a loved one’s death.
You deserve to make a fair recovery, but the reckless driver or their insurance company is unlikely to provide it to you unless an attorney represents you.
Our experienced Illinois car accident lawyers know how to make insurance companies listen to negotiate fair settlements. If a fair settlement can’t be reached, then we will pursue your fair recovery court.
To learn more about your rights and our Win or It’s Free Guarantee, please call us or start a live chat with us to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.