The number of fatalities, serious injuries, and total injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents in Canada was the lowest ever on record recently, according to a study by Transport Canada. While this means that our roads appear to be getting safer, traffic collisions still seriously or fatally injure thousands of Canadians each year. Reckless driving behaviours are a significant contributing factor.
Getting behind the wheel is hazardous enough with unpredictable circumstances of the road and drivers who are carelessness, distracted, or simply make driving errors. When motor vehicle operators act with intentional recklessness, they add unnecessary risks to an already dangerous situation.
Reckless driving is particularly irresponsible, and Canadian law outlines strict sanctions for people convicted of reckless driving offences. Reckless drivers can also be held civilly liable when their actions cause a crash.
If you were injured in a reckless driving incident, you know first-hand the devastating consequences that can result from these preventable tragedies. At Valent Legal, we understand that you might feel overwhelmed or uncertain due to the challenges you face as you seek personal and financial recovery. Our compassionate, down-to-earth personal injury lawyers are here to help you through this difficult time.
We offer free case reviews to all potential clients. You’ll never pay unless we recover money for you. Contact our legal team by phone or online to schedule your free initial consultation now.
Reckless Drivers Cause Serious and Catastrophic Injuries
A reckless driving accident can leave victims with severe injuries of all types. While all car accidents have the potential to cause catastrophic harm, the dangerous intent of a reckless driver introduces an especially hazardous component.
Some examples of injuries sustained in reckless driving accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) occur when a blow or puncture wound to the head causes damage to a person’s brain.
- Spinal cord injuries may result from the extreme forces the body is subjected to in an automobile crash. Damage to a person’s spinal cord can have serious effects, including total or partial paralysis.
- Back and neck injuries show up very frequently following car accidents, with whiplash being among the most common accident-related injuries. Even low-speed accidents can result in whiplash. Back injuries like slipped disks and cervical dislocations are common, too.
- Internal injuries can occur when a reckless driving accident forces or flings a foreign object into a person’s body. Puncture wounds of this nature can cause internal bleeding and may require surgery.
- Bone fractures in any area of the body are also incredibly common car accident injuries. Simple breaks or severe compound fractures often occur in pelvic regions, legs, ribs, arms, ankles, or wrists.
- Burns, scars, and skin injuries may result from contact with hot substances or surfaces, volatile chemicals, steam, or fire. Road rash and facial disfigurement are also common effects of friction abrasions or impacts.
- Amputations of arms, legs, digits, or other body parts sometimes occur in dangerous, high-speed collisions caused by reckless drivers.
- Arm, wrist, and hand injuries can result from the force absorbed by drivers’ hands when they brace themselves against a steering wheel or dashboard before impact. Broken wrists and shoulder injuries are very common.
- Leg, knee, and foot injuries may occur when legs or knees smash into objects in front of them, or feet or toes become severed upon impact. Sprains and fractures in the ankles, feet, and toes also happen frequently.
- Soft tissue injuries like sprains, strains, or bruises affect a person’s muscles, tendons, and ligaments. These injuries are common and often have painful, long-lasting consequences.
- Emotional trauma and PTSD can be just as devastating as any physical injury. Some accident victims may develop anxiety, depression, PTSD, or new phobias following a reckless driving incident.
Common Reckless Driving Behaviours That Lead to Accidents
No two car accidents look alike, but there are certain behaviours that are particularly common in reckless driving crashes.
Accidents may result from reckless driving behaviours, such as:
- Impaired driving, including driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Illegal vehicle racing, driving well in excess of posted speed limits or driving far too fast under the conditions
- Aggressive driving behaviours, such as unsafe passing manoeuvres, tailgating, and passing other vehicles on the right
- Swerving, erratic lane weaving, and failure to remain in designated traffic lanes
- Failure to consistently check blind spots, use turn signals, or yield the proper right-of-way
- Crossing traffic barriers, running red lights, or failure to observe stop signs or other traffic postings
- Driving while texting or otherwise distracted.
Reckless Driving Laws in Nova Scotia
In Nova Scotia and throughout Canada, “reckless driving” is legally referred to as “dangerous driving.” In the Criminal Code of Canada, dangerous driving is defined as a serious criminal offence involving a driver who operates their vehicle in a way that poses a public safety hazard.
In most dangerous driving incidents, at-fault drivers are found driving recklessly on busy, public streets or highways. However, it’s not necessary for other people or drivers to be nearby for dangerous drivers to face criminal charges. The law understands a “public place” as any space easily available to the general public, such as a road, field, or parking area. When a court is determining whether driving offences should be labeled as dangerous or simply careless, it will consider both the circumstances and the location of the incident.
Canada’s Criminal Code punishes dangerous driving offences with the same severity as impaired driving offences. Dangerous driving charges are quite serious and may result in driving suspensions, criminal records, or even jail time for guilty parties.
If a dangerous driving incident causes another person severe or fatal injuries, the dangerous driver could face up to 14 years in prison. In addition to legal consequences, convicted dangerous drivers may also face substantial increases to their insurance rates, or even forced policy cancellations.
What Is the Difference Between Reckless and Careless Driving?
The terms “reckless” and “careless” may be used interchangeably in everyday speech, but they refer to two very distinct types of driving offences in the Criminal Code of Canada.
A driver is considered to be committing a careless driving offence when they drive without reasonable care or attention to others on or near the road. Careless driving is a civil offence for which prosecutors are not required to prove intent.
Incidents involving careless driving are usually understood as driving errors that involve:
- An accident that occurred in a public area
- Driving without reasonable consideration of other drivers
- A defendant operating a legally defined vehicle
Penalties for careless driving convictions may include significant fines, six licence demerit points, a licence suspension of up to two years, and a jail term of up to six months.
Dangerous driving, on the other hand, is considered a criminal offence under the Criminal Code. To prove dangerous driving charges, crown prosecutors must demonstrate to the court that:
- The defendant was operating a legally defined vehicle.
- The accused committed the driving action with intent.
- The accident occurred in a public area.
- The driving action in question was dangerous.
Basically, dangerous driving is legally understood as bad or dangerous driving actions committed with intent, as opposed to those committed by accident or carelessness. It’s important to note that dangerous drivers may be convicted even if their driving actions do not result in an accident or injury. Penalties for dangerous driving convictions include a criminal record, licence suspension, and up to 10 years in prison.
If a careless or dangerous driver causes an accident, he or she can still be held civilly liable for the resulting damages even if there are no criminal charges made, the charges are dropped, or the driver is acquitted. Criminal responsibility and civil liability are separate matters.
How Our Car Accident Lawyers Help Reckless Driving Victims
The Halifax car accident lawyers of Valent Legal are dedicated exclusively to personal injury law and exceptional client service. We are proud to offer clients personalized, approachable assistance. We look forward to getting to know you and your unique circumstances.
For years, our award-winning team has fought relentlessly, both in and out of the courtroom, to deliver favourable outcomes to deserving individuals like you. We understand your legal options and rights, and we will work hard to protect your best interests.
When you hire us, our thorough personal injury claim process will include:
- An initial case review and consultation
- A strategic follow-up meeting
- The gathering of strong supporting evidence
- Starting the insurance claim process
- Regular updates of all progress
- Representation in court, if necessary
Our founding partner, Mike Dull, has built a solid reputation based on years of community involvement and successful representation throughout Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. Our entire team is deeply committed to serving our clients and community as well.
We want to ensure that everyone in need of skilled legal representation has access to our services, which is why we offer no-cost, no-obligation initial consultations and work on a contingency-fee-basis. This means that until we win you an insurance settlement or favourable court judgment, you pay us no fees at all.
Call us today or contact us online for a free claim review.