Reckless conduct can be the grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. It can also be a ground for criminal prosecution. A person is said to be reckless when he or she acts with utmost disregard for the safety of other although he or she is fully aware (or ought to have known) that his conduct can harm others. If someone is injured as a result of the reckless conduct, the person will be liable for the injuries.
The person can be liable for the injuries caused by his or her conduct under four different theories.
- Intent or willfulness: The person’s conduct was intentional and done to injure another person.
- Recklessness: The person was aware (or should have been aware) that his conduct will cause injuries to others
- Negligence: The person breached his duty of care thereby injuring others
- Strict liability: The person will be liable for the injuries without regard to his or her mental state. This is applicable only in certain situations.
Reckless conduct is more than simple negligence. Reckless conduct is intentional conduct without the actual intention to injure but with the knowledge (express or implied) that the conduct will injure others.
Every state has laws that specifically prohibit certain types of reckless conduct. A reckless person is considered as a social evil that endangers the safety of others. If you have been injured by the reckless conduct of someone, you can claim compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
Certain categories of individuals and parties who are generally immune from claims of simple negligence can be held liable for reckless conduct.
Recklessness is conduct which creates a higher degree of risk than that created by simple negligence. The Restatement states it thus:
“The actor’s conduct is in reckless disregard of the safety of another if he does an act or intentionally fails to do an act which it is his duty to the other to do, knowing or having reason to know of facts which would lead a reasonable man to realize, not only that his conduct creates an unreasonable risk of physical harm to another, but also that such risk is substantially greater than that which is necessary to make his conduct negligent.”
Unlike the negligence cause of action, the plaintiff’s contributory negligence does not operate as a defense to the defendant’s reckless conduct. The defense of assumption of risk, however, may be a defense to the recklessness-based cause of action.
Examples of reckless behavior include:
- Drunk driving
- Speeding in a school zone
- Keeping an unlocked firearm within easy reach of children
What constitutes Recklessness?
A reckless conduct is conduct that is an act that is intentional and done with the knowledge (express or implied) that the conduct can inure other. The conduct is unreasonable and is significantly greater than simple negligence. The person must know or ought to have known that the conduct can injure others.
Recklessness is not the same as negligence. Negligence is carelessness or incompetence. But recklessness is intentional conduct that involves a greater degree of risk than negligence.
Reckless misconduct and intentional wrongdoing are two separate issues. In recklessness, the person who conduct is reckless does not intend to actually injure or harm someone else by the conduct. In short, the conduct is intentional but the resultant injury or harm isn’t.
Claims of Recklessness
Claims for injuries arising out of reckless conduct are based on tort law. In tort, reckless conduct is also referred to as “wanton and willful misconduct,” “willful negligence” or “wanton and willful negligence”. In addition to compensation for Pain and suffering, Lost wages, Medical expenses and Rehabilitation costs, some states allow the victim to also claim legal expenses from the defendant in a recklessness claim.