The road can be a dangerous place whether you’re a pedestrian, a cyclist or a motorist. Many road deaths are caused due to someone else’s actions. While any person can cause a road traffic accident, motorists are most at risk of causing a serious accident. Vehicles can be extremely dangerous, especially if the driver acts in a negligent manner. There’s a reason why people need to undergo thorough driving examinations and why using the road is heavily regulated by laws.
Fatal road accidents caused by another person can be split into two categories: death by careless driving and death by dangerous driving. Careless and dangerous driving does not suggest an intent to harm someone, which is why it’s called an accident. But with that said, it is still a serious act of negligence. Dangerous driving is clearly the more severe offense and will lead to harsher consequences. However, both careless and dangerous driving can be impactful behaviors and may lead to loss of life. It’s useful to know the differences between the two to ensure you behave like a safe and competent road user.
Fatal Accident Claims is a specialist solicitor service that helps clients with a wide range of accident claims, including road accidents, asbestos-related diseases, and fatal work accidents. They offer victims and relatives advice and claims management support to help them come to terms with their serious injuries or tragic loss. Fatal Accident Claims have provided us with information on the differences between careless and dangerous driving, including the potential penalties and how you can make a compensation claim.
What is Careless Driving?
Careless driving is defined as driving below the minimum standard expected of a competent and careful driver. While the type of actions that fall under this category can be complex and open to interpretation, it is ultimately about falling below the minimum standards. Careless driving can typically be summed up as acting with undue care and attention or having a brief lapse of judgment or concentration. If you drive carelessly, you are doing so without reasonable consideration for other road users.
There are several examples of careless driving. For starters, driving too close to another vehicle, also known as tailgating, would fall under this category. Accidentally running a red light, overtaking on the inside, or suddenly braking would be other examples. Turning into the path of another vehicle or failing to properly assess your surroundings is also careless. Being distracted by the radio, phone, eating or smoking may also fall under careless driving but depending on your specific actions, could also be classed as dangerous driving.
What is Dangerous Driving?
While careless driving is described as driving below the minimum standard, dangerous driving is defined as falling far below the expected standards of a competent driver. Dangerous driving is to operate a vehicle in a completely negligent manner, endangering both yourself and others. Again, there may be some debate as to what constitutes a dangerous action versus a careless one, but it comes down to judgment on how far below the person’s standards have slipped. To be convicted of dangerous driving, there must be significant evidence showing that they were responsible for the accident and are judged to have driven dangerously.
One of the most common examples of dangerous driving is racing with others, driving at excessive speed, or driving aggressively. If you operate a vehicle while aware of a serious fault, then this would also be considered dangerous. Other examples include intentionally ignoring traffic lights or road signs, driving on the hard shoulder, or driving with an unsafe load. Driving while unfit, such as experiencing eyesight issues, is also dangerous. Last but certainly not least, driving while uninsured, disqualified, or under the influence are three of the most serious examples of dangerous driving.
The Penalties for Driving Carelessly or Dangerously
Driving dangerously or carelessly is a serious offense that comes with hefty penalties. Punishments can vary depending on several factors, including what careless or dangerous actions led to the action. A history of offenses and points on a driver’s license can also increase the punishment handed down.
Generally speaking, for careless driving in the UK, you can expect to at least pay a £100 fine and receive three points on your license. If your case goes to court, you may receive as much as a £5,000 fine and a nine-point penalty. The maximum sentence is 5 years in prison and disqualification from driving for a minimum of 1 year. If convicted of careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs, the maximum sentence is 14 years in person, an unlimited fine, and disqualification for a minimum of 2 years. As for death by dangerous driving, you can expect to be hit with a two-year disqualification and 1-14 years imprisonment. You may also be ordered to pay an unlimited fine and receive three to eleven penalty points.
If the incident transcends that of an accident, then the driver may also be convicted with the more serious charge of murder or manslaughter. In this case, the driver can face life imprisonment and at least years disqualification from driving.
Claiming for Death by Careless Driving
As well as a criminal conviction, a driver guilty of death by careless driving may be liable to pay civil compensation. Losing a loved one is not only tough because of the emotional distress, but also because of the financial problems that death can cause. There may be additional fees to pay such as medical costs and funeral expenses. Therefore, compensation is essential to help the family come to terms with the loss and help them cope financially.
The process of making death by careless driving compensation claim begins by speaking to a solicitor firm who will listen to what you have to say and offer advice on how you can move forward. Solicitors work on your behalf to support you and help you claim the maximum amount of compensation. They will investigate the accident to build the strongest possible case, and most solicitors operate on a No Win, No Fee basis so you only pay if the claim is successful.
There are several types of compensation that you can claim, including the bereavement award and a dependency claim. The bereavement award provides a statutory amount to close relatives while the dependency claim is awarded on the basis that essential services have been taken following the death. Compensation is usually made against the driver’s insurance company. If they have no insurance, then it will be dealt with by the Motor Insurer’s Bureau or a court judge.
Mark is a content writer at Fatal Accident Claims, a specialist firm of solicitors based in the United Kingdom. Fatal Accident Claims helps people claim compensation for a wide range of services, including fatal work accidents, dependency claims, asbestos-related diseases, and road accidents.