Reckless Conduct and How Does It Impact My Personal Injury Claim?

September 16, 2019

If you’ve been injured due to the fault of another person or entity, you may have a claim for damages pursuant to Pennsylvania law.  Litigating your injury claim may seem like a straightforward matter, but depending on the circumstances, you may have to take additional issues into consideration.  These may include the nature of the defendant’s conduct and whether it constitutes mere negligence or recklessness.

Reckless Conduct and Punitive Damages

In Pennsylvania, reckless conduct is conduct where the defendant demonstrates a “reckless indifference” to the interests of others.  Recklessness requires a mental state in which the defendant consciously disregards the serious risk of danger that they pose to others.

Reckless conduct is more than mere negligence.  Whereas negligence requires only the breach of the duty of care (and thus, a heightened risk of injury), reckless conduct generally involves more egregious or outrageous conduct, as well as a mental state in which the defendant knows of the risks they pose to others but — regardless — choose to continue acting recklessly.

For example, imagine that you are injured in a motor vehicle accident.  The defendant driver makes a mistake and enters your lane without signaling, causing a collision.  This is likely to be deemed negligence.

Now, imagine another scenario where the defendant driver is weaving between lanes at a high speed and is also failing to signal.  He or she is well aware of the risk of danger posed to others on the road, but the driver chooses to continue this behavior.  This is almost certainly reckless conduct.

Why is it important to establish the defendant’s recklessness?

Pennsylvania law allows for punitive damages in situations where the defendant acts in a reckless manner.  Punitive damages can be significant, depending on the circumstances (as punitive damages are a multiple of the actual damages and can be equivalent to three or four times the suffered losses).  As such, there are potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars (if not millions) at stake. That is why a determination of recklessness can make a difference.

Liability Waivers Do Not Apply

In Pennsylvania, if you have signed a recreational liability waiver, you may be prevented from suing and recovering damages from the defendant, so long as the defendant was only negligent when causing you injuries.  If the defendant was reckless, however, then — according to Pennsylvania courts — the liability waiver will no longer apply.

Establishing the reckless conduct of the defendant is not necessarily a simple task.  Remember, you will have to show that they have acted in an egregious or otherwise outrageous manner that consciously disregarded the risks posed by their conduct.

Work With Skilled Personal Injury Lawyers

If you’ve suffered injuries in a Pennsylvania accident and would like to have your claims evaluated by a team of experienced personal injury lawyers, contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.  Our attorneys have represented numerous clients in a range of injury litigation and we have secured favorable verdicts and settlements on their behalf.

Call (888) 777-7098 or submit an online form to connect to one of our attorneys today.  We look forward to assisting you.