Negligence v. Recklessness: How to Pressure the Insurance Companies To Pay

Negligence v. Recklessness.  These two words may seem interchangeable to most people. However, they do not mean the same thing. In fact, their meanings may make the difference between an insurance company paying your injury claim or taking the case to trial.

Know the Difference

Negligence, in the legal sense, is defined as:

A failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.

Recklessness, on the other hand, loosely means a person knew (or should have known) that their actions were likely to cause harm.

The difference between these two definitions may seem trivial but there is a huge difference for insurance companies.

What is Covered and What is Not?

You see, we buy car insurance, homeowners insurance, and other types of insurance to protect us from our own negligence.  Recklessness on the other hand is generally not covered by insurance.

What does this mean?

This means that the insurance company foots the bill when the driver in an accident is found to be negligent. If that driver is determined to have been reckless, however, there will be two separate bills for your injuries. One for the negligence of the driver (that will be the insurance company’s responsibility) and one for “punitive damages” not covered by insurance. The latter will be the driver’s responsibility.

You might still be wondering why any of this matters.  The insurance company has a legal responsibility to defend their negligent driver. Further, they must get the case resolved without it hurting their negligent driver’s wallet.  If they are unable to do so, causing their driver to pay the bill, that driver could then sue their own insurance company for failing to settle the case.

So, long story short, the insurance company doesn’t want to see an injured driver claiming that their driving was reckless.  That’s why they will stop at nothing to get claims of “recklessness” thrown out of court.  So, if they fail to get the case thrown out, there is great incentive for the insurance company to settle the claim quickly.

Get Help

Keeping claims of recklessness moving forward depends, in large part, on the skill of your attorney.  It is at a judge’s discretion whether those claims can move forward. Judges decisions are based almost exclusively on how well the complaint you filed in court is written by your attorney.  A complaint written by one attorney relative to a negligent driver running a stop sign could be good enough for recklessness claims to move forward, while another attorney’s complaint might not.

As a former insurance company attorney, I know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to writing a complaint that will keep those recklessness allegations before the Court, pressuring the insurance company to pay up.  Contact me today for a free consultation if you have been injured or have any questions!


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