The Difference Between Negligent and Reckless Driving

January 20, 2023

On the surface, it may seem like the definitions of “negligent driving” and “reckless driving” are the same thing, but they do have major differences when it comes to vehicle accidents and liability. Here, we want to break down the difference between negligent and reckless driving, and we also want to discuss the prospects of recovering compensation after an accident involving these types of driving.

Negligent Driving on West Virginia Roadways

Negligent driving revolves around mistakes that individuals make on the roadway. Typically, when a vehicle accident occurs, it is the result of one or more drivers’ negligent actions. When we discussed negligence in the course of a civil claim, which is what most vehicle accidents are considered, we are looking at a few elements that must be in place, including a driver’s duty of care and their breach of duty.

Every driver on the roadway has a duty to operate safely and within the confines of West Virginia traffic laws. When a driver breaches their duty of care and causes an accident, this will typically be considered negligence. There are various ways that drivers can breach their duty of care, including operating while impaired by alcohol or drugs, speeding, operating while distracted, failing to yield the right of way, failing to stop at a stop sign or stop light, failing to use a turn signal, and other actions.

One thing to point out about negligent actions on the roadway is that drivers typically do not have the intent to cause harm to others. These are typically mistakes that people make that could lead to an accident. It is not uncommon for individuals to receive traffic citations for negligent driving, though negligence can also lead to an arrest.

Aggressive Driving in West Virginia

Aggressive driving is different from negligence. In general, we will consider aggressive driving to be intentional actions a driver takes that place themselves and others at harm. We can see that there are various types of driving behaviors that could be considered aggressive driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Speeding (purposely driving too fast for conditions)
  • Weaving in and out of traffic
  • Running stop signs or red lights
  • Tailgating other drivers
  • Purposely cutting off other drivers
  • Purposely ignoring other driver’s right of way

There are various factors that lead to aggressive driving, and this type of driving is often the stage right before road rage. Some of the external factors that can motivate aggressive driving behaviors include individuals running late and then hitting significant traffic delays. However, there are some drivers who simply operate aggressively on a regular basis out of habit.

Working With an Attorney

If you or somebody you know has been involved in an accident caused by a negligent or aggressive driver in West Virginia, we encourage you to reach out to an auto accident attorney as soon as possible. You have a right to recover compensation from other parties that cause you harm, but that does not mean it will be easy to win a claim. When you work with an attorney, you will have an advocate who can investigate your claim and help determine the other driver’s liability. The ultimate goal is to recover compensation for your medical bills, property damage expenses, lost wages, and any pain and suffering you experience.


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