People Caring for People

Negligence Involving Careless Reckless Behavior

Cases of Negligence involving careless reckless behavior

Negligence is often the underlying cause in all kinds of accidents, such as those involving vehicles and pedestrians as well as dog attacks, slip and fall accidents, hit and run, and swimming pool accidents.  The law of negligence requires individuals to conduct themselves in a manner that conforms to certain standards of conduct.  Should a person’s action violate those standards, then that person is required by law to compensate anyone who is harmed as a result.  In some cases,  the law of negligence also covers an individual’s omission to act.  Remember, that negligent conduct may result from either an act or a failure to act.

In tort law, negligence is considered a distinct cause of action.  Negligence is also defined in the Restatement (Second) of Torts as “conduct that falls below the standard established by law for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm.”  In some situations, a statute or other law may define specific duties, such as the legal duty of an individual to care for another.  Certain professionals, like lawyers and doctors, are also required to maintain a standard of care when handling clients.  When a doctor/ lawyer fails to uphold such a standard of care and an injury results, then that person may be liable for malpractice – a tort-based on the law of negligence.

The Difference between Negligence and Recklessness

Negligence and recklessness are often used interchangeably, and from a legal standpoint, they do have some similarities.  However, negligence and recklessness are two distinct wrongful behaviors, and proving that a defendant displayed one or the other in the course of causing harm can make a difference when it comes to seeking economic compensation.

Recklessness is more serious than negligence since recklessness involves a state of mind on the part of the defendant that’s more difficult to excuse.  When a defendant acts recklessly, they must actually know of an unreasonable risk of harm to others and cause harm to the plaintiff by acting despite knowing the risk.  In this case, the defendant knew better and still went ahead regardless of that knowledge.

For instance, if you’re driving 10 miles an hour faster than the speed limit, then you may be negligent. On the other hand, if you’re drag-racing then that would be reckless.  Not using a turn signal and changing lanes may be negligent, while knowingly running a red light or a stop sign would be reckless behavior.

The Four Types of Negligence


Comparative negligence is when a party is partially responsible for the harm they’ve sustained.  In these scenarios, even being 1% responsible can hinder a person from receiving compensation.  Virginia is a state where contributory negligence is practiced.

Comparative Negligence Case Example:

A person got hurt by stepping on a wet floor despite the fact that there was a wet floor sign present.  In this situation, the injured individual is typically deemed responsible for knowing their surroundings and won’t be able to receive any damages.


Gross negligence is the most serious type of negligence and is the term commonly used in medical malpractice cases.  Reckless behavior is highlighted in these cases to prove that any reasonable person would not commit this act.

Gross Negligence Case Example:

A home care nurse not feeding a patient for several days.


Contributory negligence is when an individual isn’t 100% at fault for the crime, yet did contribute to some extent.  

Contributory Negligence Case Example:

A person who’s texting while driving gets into an accident with another driver that made an illegal turn.


Vicarious negligence is when someone is indirectly responsible for the accident.  

Vicarious Negligence Case Example:

A dog bite is a common example.  It might not be the owner’s actual intent to injure someone, but their dog did, and so they are responsible for the injuries caused by their dog.

Negligence and Recklessness May Affect Your Claim

In a lawsuit that involves a vehicular accident, whether the defendant acted negligently or recklessly may not affect the actual or economic damages that the plaintiff may seek. However, if the plaintiff is also seeking punitive or exemplary damages, then the plaintiff’s case may be stronger if the plaintiff can prove that the defendant acted recklessly instead of just negligently.  Only an experienced attorney can assess the circumstances and legal standards that apply in your specific situation.  

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages may be awarded in addition to the actual damages in certain situations. The punitive damages act as punishment and are usually awarded at the court’s discretion when a defendant’s conduct is proven to be especially harmful.  

In the case of a tort liability, courts can choose to apply punitive damages.  Although, they will usually only do so if a plaintiff can prove that a defendant engaged in an intentional tort and/ or engaged in wanton and willful misconduct.

What is Wrongful DeathDue to Negligence or Recklessness?

Wrongful death occurs when a person is killed because of another person or entity’s misconduct or negligence.  There may be a criminal prosecution related to a fatality but a wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action and it’s separate and distinct from any criminal charges.  Also, the standard of proof is lower in a civil case than it is in a criminal case for manslaughter or murder.

Various circumstances can give rise to a wrongful death lawsuit, such as motor vehicle accidents, toxic torts, medical malpractice, criminal activity, or manufacturing defects.  Do note that each state has its own wrongful death statute, with its own criteria and procedure for bringing wrongful death lawsuits.  In some instances, there may be certain agencies that possess governmental immunity from prosecution for wrongful death lawsuits.

Consult an Accidental Death Lawyer

We understand that a wrongful death claim can’t bring a loved one back.  However, it can secure your and your family’s financial future.  It’s critical to hire an accidental death lawyer to ensure that you get the maximum compensation from the responsible parties.  Look for a law firm that specializes in wrongful death claims and personal injury laws.  If you’re in West Virginia, then look no further than Robinette Legal Group, PLLC.  We’ve handled all types of wrongful death claims, including fatalities caused by pipeline explosions, truck accidents, toxic exposure, coal mining, oil and gas rigs, product failure, construction accidents, logging and timbering, motor vehicle collisions, and medical malpractice.

At Robinette Legal Group, LLC, we can assist you with compassion and understanding while aggressively pursuing your case before the court.

We will not stop until we have done everything in our power to make sure that those responsible for your loved one’s death face the consequences.

Call 304-594-1800 today for a free and compassionate consultation.