Being injured or losing a loved one in a motor vehicle accident can be extremely traumatic. A new bill seeks to increase penalties for reckless drivers who cause these types of car accidents. The bill has yet to be approved and is currently on its third round of reading in West Virginia’s House of Delegates, but if made into law it could have a significant impact on victims and their families.
The purpose of House Bill 3134 is to increase the criminal penalties for reckless driving that results in either serious bodily injury or death. Currently, a driver convicted of reckless driving that resulted in death could spend up to a year behind bars and have to pay between $100 and $1,000 in fines. The bill proposes that a conviction for this charge result in anywhere from three to 15 years of prison time and fines between $1,000 and $3,000.
Under current law, those convicted of driving recklessly and causing serious bodily injury only spend between 10 days and six months in jail. Fines generally fall between $50 and $1,000. If the bill is passed, individuals could spend between two and 10 years in jail and have to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 in fines. According to one expert, reckless, distracted and impaired drivers cause the majority of injury and fatal accidents in West Virginia. Officials hope this bill would help deter drivers from behaving in a way that puts other drivers at risk.
While increased criminal penalties might be of some comfort to victims who have been seriously injured in these types of car accidents, it does not address their full range of damages. Victims are often burdened with overwhelming medical bills, lost wages and lingering pain and suffering. In fatal accidents, families are left behind to deal with the emotional and financial costs of a loved one’s death. Personal injury and wrongful death claims can be effective options for those who want to achieve just legal recourse in order to address their damages.