cars drag racing on a public streetWhile you might be familiar with the term “reckless driving,” Missouri’s statutes do not use it to refer to driving that endangers others. Instead, our state calls it “careless and imprudent” driving, and it is a criminal offense. Whatever the violation is called, if you were hurt by a reckless or careless driver, you may be able to recover damages through a personal injury claim.

Careless and Imprudent Driving

The definition—and penalties—for careless and imprudent driving are similar to those for reckless driving in other states. However, Missouri’s definition is very broad. Here, a “careless and imprudent driver” is someone who operates their vehicle in such a way as to pose a risk to other motorists.

Missouri’s Driving Expectations

Missouri requires that everyone operating a vehicle do so:

  • In a “careful, prudent” manner
  • At a safe speed
  • With “the highest degree of care”

People who do not follow these three rules may be cited for careless and imprudent driving.

Examples of Careless and Imprudent Driving

Since Missouri’s definition of this violation is so broad, law enforcement officers have a lot of discretion in writing citations. A driver might be ticketed under this statute for any of the following dangerous behaviors:

  • Excessive speeding
  • Texting and driving
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Street racing
  • Road rage incidents

What to Do If You’ve Been Hurt by a Reckless Driver

You should always contact a Missouri car accident attorney after you have been hurt in a car crash. They can help you collect evidence to show that the other driver was at fault, negotiate with the car insurance company, and take the other driver to court if necessary.

Even if the at-fault motorist is facing criminal charges, you still need to take quick action on your personal injury complaint. This is because even a successful criminal prosecution will not likely provide you with the money needed to recover after the accident.

Criminal cases can also take a long time—and if you wait too long to file a personal injury claim, it could fall outside Missouri’s statute of limitations. Once the statute of limitations has passed, the court will dismiss your lawsuit, no matter how strong your case is.

Megan D. Andrews
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