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

Negligence v. Recklessness.  Two words that may seem interchangeable to most people can mean the difference between an insurance company paying out your injury claim and taking the case to trial.  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 the person knew (or should have known) that his or her action were likely to cause harm.  The difference between these two definitions may seem trivial or not apparent but to insurance companies the difference is huge.

You see, we buy car insurance, homeowners insurance, etc… to protect us from our own negligence.  Recklessness on the other hand is generally not covered by insurance.  What that means is, if you get into a motor vehicle accident and the driver that caused the accident is determined to have been negligent, the insurance company will be the one footing the bill.  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” which is not covered by insurance and will be the driver’s responsibility.

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

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

Whether or not you can keep those 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 and their decision is 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 and pressure the insurance companies to pay up.  Contact me today for a free consultation!