Undoubtedly, at some point in time, every driver has become frustrated while driving. Whether frustrations stem from other drivers’ behavior, traffic congestion, or roadway conditions, drivers remain responsible for keeping their cool while operating a motor vehicle. Sometimes, unfortunately, drivers’ anger may get the best of them, leading to aggressive or angry driving behaviors that put everyone on the roadway in danger.
If a driver’s road rage contributed to an accident that resulted in injuries, injured victims may recover compensation. If this happened to you, contact an experienced car accident lawyer today for a free consultation and case evaluation.
What Is Road Rage?
Road rage, also referred to as aggressive driving, is a broad term encompassing any heightened anger experienced by a driver while operating a motor vehicle.
Drivers may exhibit road rage through a wide range of behaviors, including:
- Rude and offensive gestures;
- Verbal insults;
- Physical threats;
- Physical attacks, including shooting; and
- Dangerous driving behaviors targeted at other drivers, pedestrians, or cyclists.
Road rage is surprisingly common among drivers across the United States. In fact, nearly 80 percent of drivers admit they have experienced significant anger, aggression, or road rage while driving at least once a year.
Reported instances of driver aggression manifested itself in the following ways:
- 51 percent purposefully tailgated;
- 47 percent yelled at another driver;
- 45 percent honked to show annoyance or anger;
- 33 percent made angry gestures;
- 24 percent tried to block another vehicle from changing lanes;
- 12 percent intentionally cut off another vehicle;
- 4 percent got out of their vehicle to confront another driver; and
- 3 percent bumped or rammed another vehicle on purpose.
Studies show that aggressive driving may be a contributing factor in more than 50 percent of all fatal car accidents. Some behaviors associated with road rage, e.g., yelling at another driver, are less likely to lead to injury than others. However, driver actions like tailgating or intentionally cutting off another vehicle can greatly increase the risks of an accident. Extreme road rage behavior can lead to deadly physical altercations involving firearms.
Who Is Responsible for My Injuries?
When evidence clearly demonstrates that another driver was acting with road rage at the time of injury, the driver will likely be responsible for any accident-related damages they caused.
Drivers who engage in negligent or intentionally dangerous behaviors may harm others on the roadway.
- Negligence: When tailgating or preventing others from changing lanes contributes to causing an accident, it may be difficult to prove that the other driver’s intentional misconduct led to the accident. However, there may be evidence demonstrating that the other driver was behaving negligently. Drivers have a legal obligation to use reasonable care to avoid harming others on the roadway. Legally, any behavior that puts other drivers at danger or risk of harm falls below the standard of care and is considered negligent driver behavior. Negligent behaviors may include drivers’ failure to obey traffic laws and regulations, like following too close, for example.
- Assault and battery: The definitions of assault and battery will vary depending on the laws of the state where the incident occurred. The most common definition of assault is any action that causes a victim to experience fear of imminent harm. Battery refers to the unauthorized use of physical force against another causing them harm. Both assault and battery are crimes subject to criminal prosecution. On the other hand, assault and battery are intentional behaviors that may entitle injured victims to recover compensation for the resulting injuries in a civil action. When demonstrating intentionally harmful behavior, the law provides a low burden of proof, and only requires evidence that the intentional acts occurred and victims were harmed as a result.
Look for a personal injury firm with experience handling road rage accident cases, and dedicated to working with their clients to build the strongest case possible to maximize their recoveries.
Recovering Compensation for Injuries
The perpetrator of the road rage will be responsible for any accident-related losses stemming from an accident caused by their aggressive behavior.
A victim may suffer a wide range of losses directly caused by a road rage incident, including:
- Medical expenses: Injured parties may be entitled to compensation for all medical expenses related to the accident. For example, a demand for damages may include the costs of doctors’ visits, hospital stays, emergency transportation, and prescription medication. When calculating medical expenses, victims must consider future and long-term medical needs, including in-home care and rehabilitative therapies.
- Lost income: When accident injuries prevent victims from returning to work, require them to work at a reduced level or salary, they may be entitled to compensation for lost wages. In addition, injuries that cause permanent limitation or disability may permit injured victims to seek compensation for future lost earning capacity.
- Property damage: Damage to a vehicle or personal property inside the vehicle at the time of the accident may be included in a demand for damages. Injured parties may be compensated for the costs of repair or replacement of damaged property.
- Emotional distress: A road rage incident can be an extremely traumatic experience for all parties involved. Road rage victims commonly experience anxiety, depression, or PTSD following an accident. Victims who experience extreme emotional distress as a result of a road rage accident may be entitled compensation for the impacts caused by their mental anguish.
- Loss of enjoyment: Many injuries limit victims’ ability to participate in activities that were previously a meaningful part of their life. If you have suffered a loss of enjoyment of life after a road rage accident, you may be entitled to recover compensation.
- Punitive/exemplary damages: Punitive damages do not compensate victims for their injuries but rather they are intended to punish particularly wrongful behavior. To seek an award of punitive damages, most states require victims to demonstrate another’s egregious misconduct. In cases of road rage, there is a high possibility that the wrongful driver’s behavior will rise to a level of misconduct warranting an award of punitive damages.
Injured victims should consult with an experienced road rage accident attorney to ensure all accident-related losses are included in their demand for damages. Calculating the true value of a claim is critical for assessing the adequacy and fairness of settlement offers provided by the other driver.
Be cautious of quick settlement offers, as they typically offer an amount that is insufficient to cover the full amount of damages incurred. An attorney can help advise injured victims on whether a settlement offer is fair based on the strength of the evidence in their case.
Be sure to avoid taking any action that might put your recovery at risk, including posting on social media. For example, a victim may submit a post on social media stating, “I was really on edge and angry today, and this accident just made it worse!”
The other may then discredit a claim for compensation by demonstrating that the victim’s mental state contributed to the accident.
Alternatively, victims may claim damages for lost wages by asserting they can’t stand on their feet for a full day. If the victim then posts photos of a family hike on social media, the photos could undermine their claims that they can’t work. It is best to refrain from posting anything on social media, even on a private account, because the information may come out during settlement negotiations or should the case proceed to trial.
One of the most important things you can do after an accident is to contact an experienced car accident attorney to assist you throughout the process.
Wagoner Desai, PLLC
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Citizens Bank Building
Morgantown, WV 26505