What Is Considered Road Rage?
Nearly every driver has witnessed an incident of road rage. It’s often a scary behavior to see. Be it out of stress, frustration, or anger, road-raging drivers lose control of their tempers. Everyone has lost their temper at one time or another, but these drivers then use their cars as a way to express their emotions. They display a wide range of inconsiderate and dangerous behaviors, such as speeding, tailgating, racing, honking, flashing their lights, and attempting to run other vehicles off the road.
Road rage is deliberate negligence, and it is also illegal. If a road-raging driver injured you, you deserve compensation for the harm you suffered. An experienced car accident attorney can fight to get it for them.
Common Road Rage Driving Behaviors
Road rage can look a little different from one driver to the next. However, generally, these behaviors fall under the scope of road rage:
Honking in frustration
Making angry gestures
Trying to block another vehicle from changing lanes
Cutting off another vehicle on purpose
Exiting the vehicle to confront another driver
Bumping or hitting another vehicle intentionally
Illegal driving on the road shoulder, in a ditch, or on the sidewalk or median
Passing where prohibited
Speeding up to pass someone, then deliberately slowing down in front of them
Erratic driving, operating the vehicle in a reckless or careless manner
Weaving in and out of traffic
Confrontational body language
Failure to yield the right of way
Flashing headlights or high beams
Disregarding traffic signs and signals
Running red lights or stop signs
Failure to obey safety zones
Not using a turn signal
Factors That Contribute to Road Rage Behaviors
It’s natural to get angry from time to time while behind the wheel of your vehicle. After all, getting in your car doesn’t take away your human emotions and responses. However, most people can muster the necessary self-restraint to stop that anger from boiling over into road rage.
Innumerable factors can contribute to the behaviors of road-raging drivers.
Driver anger frequently feeds off emotional fuel resulting from:
Being in a hurry: Leaving late or failing to give themselves enough time to account for possible traffic delays creates stress. For some drivers, this stress quickly escalates into road rage.
Traffic congestion: Sitting in a traffic jam can feel like a substantial waste of time, especially if you are in a hurry to get somewhere. With every passing minute, aggravation can rise.
Self-centeredness/lack of empathy: Drivers who participate in road rage sometimes have difficulty empathizing with others. They don’t believe that laws apply to them or fail to recognize the impact of their own actions on others.
Cloak of anonymity: Some drivers feel separated and isolated from other motorists, especially since most are strangers to the driver. Inside their vehicle, they are in their own bubble. This anonymity of driving can cause some drivers to feel unaccountable to others for their actions.
Competitiveness: Getting behind the wheel can make some drivers feel competitive. They want to be the first through the intersection and aren’t afraid to weave in and out of traffic to get to their destination “first.” Competitive road rage often results in reckless driving because a meltdown will ensue if things do not turn out the way this type of driver wants.
Passive aggression: These drivers want to covertly maintain control of the road and avoid direct confrontation. They may attempt to speed up to disallow another driver from merging into their lane, seldomly acknowledging the presence of another motorist.
No matter the contributing cause of another driver’s road rage actions, they are still liable for any damages that result. There is simply no excuse for this behavior. A skilled road rage accident lawyer can help victims seek the justice they deserve.
What to Do if Another Motorist is Driving Aggressively
If another motorist is driving aggressively, it’s best to keep your distance and not engage with them as tempting as that might be in some situations. Instead, safely move to the furthest lane away from the aggressive driver and reduce your driving speed to put a safe distance between your car and theirs.
In addition to this:
Don’t retaliate. Though it might be strong and you want to stand up for yourself, resist the urge to respond to the aggressive driver because doing so can escalate the situation. You should even avoid making any eye contact with them.
Always keep your vehicle moving. Never stop your car if a driver has been acting aggressively towards you or others; this may result in a dangerous person-to-person confrontation. You never know if the other driver has a weapon of some sort on them or might use their vehicle as a weapon to harm you.
Be cautious and stay aware of your surroundings. If you’re concerned another motorist is following you to your destination, keep the doors locked and drive to the nearest police station. In an emergency, don’t be afraid to call 911.
How Long Do You Have to File a Road Rage Accident Lawsuit?
You must file a road rage accident lawsuit within your state’s statute of limitations, which is a legal deadline for personal injury cases. The deadline for your case depends on your state and other factors, such as who is responsible for your road rage accident. Most deadlines are within one to four years after the date of the accident, which means you do not have a lot of time.
Missing this deadline will usually mean you forgo your right to compensation, so you must file your lawsuit within your state’s applicable statute of limitations.
What if the Driver Faces Criminal Charges?
Even if the road-raging driver who hit you is facing criminal charges, you still have the right to file a civil lawsuit to receive compensation for your damages. Criminal and civil cases are different and run separately. Even if the driver receives a conviction of their charges related to road rage, it won’t provide you with full and fair compensation for your injuries.
Likewise, if your attorney settles your claim or you win a civil court award, it doesn’t mean the road-raging driver will be found guilty on a criminal charge.
Damages in a Road Rage Accident
No matter what type, personal injury claims, including road rage accidents, have two necessary factors; liability and damages. A liability is a legal responsibility. If a person deliberately drives with road rage, they choose to be negligent and are legally accountable for any damages they cause.
After an accident and injuries, monetary compensation depends on the victim’s damages. Paying for damages “fixes” the harm that the liable party caused. Of course, no amount of money will ever make it as if someone’s injuries never happened. But the closest possible way to do this is to provide compensation for injury-related costs and other losses.
The compensation a road rage accident victim should receive depends on their damages and injuries. For instance, if someone sustains only small cuts or scrapes in a car accident and doesn’t require medical treatment, they won’t likely have a claim worth pursuing as there aren’t any damages. However, if someone in a road rage accident suffered broken bones, whiplash, burns, head injuries, or catastrophic injuries like a spinal cord injury (SCI) or traumatic brain injury (TBI), they deserve compensation for their damages.
Compensatory Damages: Special and General
Compensatory damages compensate injured individuals for their losses and inconveniences. They fall into two categories; general and special.
Also called economic damages, special damages have a predetermined value. Since they already have a value, insurance companies won’t argue over their worth. Special damages include:
Lost Income and Wages
Some car accident injuries keep employees from going back to work immediately or in the future. They are entitled to pursue damages for lost wages, income, and other lost earnings. Your attorney will calculate your lost income and wages beginning on the date of your accident through the current date or the date you have returned to work if you have already done so.
Suppose you are still physically unable to return to work or are limited in your ability to earn wages as you did before the accident. In that case, your attorney will calculate them for as long as you will not be working. Your lost wages should also account for any bonuses, tips, or commissions you didn’t receive because you were not working.
Medical Care Expenses
Medical costs unnecessarily burden road rage car accident victims. When calculating your medical expenses, be sure you and your attorney consider all the medical care you have received due to the accident. Begin immediately after your injury going through the present. If you’ll need continued medical care after your case is settled or goes to trial, calculate these expenses into your damages as well.
Your medical expenses can include:
Emergency department visits
Surgeries or procedures
Physical or occupational therapy
Lab work and other diagnostic tests
Prescriptions and over-the-counter medications
Medical equipment such as walkers, slings, crutches, wheelchairs, or respirators
General or non-economic damages are the natural results of the road raging driver’s intentionally negligent actions. Even though there’s no hard evidence, such as a receipt or medical bill to prove they exist or their value, the link between what the road-raging driver did and the injured individual’s general damages is evident and real.
Depending on the details of your road rage accident, general damages can include:
Pain and suffering, including the physical pain and discomfort you experienced when the car accident happened and the suffering resulting from your subsequent injury and its treatments.
Physical impairments or disabilities, for instance, not taking care of yourself after a TBI or not walking on your own after sustaining an SCI.
Disfigurement or scarring due to the humiliation or embarrassment you might endure because of severe scarring, an amputation, or another disfigurement.
Mental anguish, including fear, distress, anxiety, depression, trauma, or grief arising from the road rage accident.
Loss of enjoyment of life if your injuries keep you from enjoying your life, including normal activities, recreational pursuits, hobbies, holidays, exercise, traveling, and family traditions
Loss of consortium, sometimes called loss of affection or loss of companionship, is the loss of marital, parental, or other benefits of unique relationships.
The value of general damages can be difficult to determine and agree on since they don’t come with an assigned rate or any way to calculate them. Typically, general damages have a value of 1.5 to five times that of a victim’s special damages.
You have the legal right to ask the court to assign punitive damages in your case if the individual who caused your injuries acted intentionally or with extreme disregard for your or others’ safety and well-being. Punitive damages can apply to car accident road rage cases. Also referred to as exemplary damages, obtaining punitive damages typically requires representation from a seasoned personal injury lawyer.
However, personal injury settlements don’t include punitive damages, as only the court can award them. Courts award punitive damages in cases involving the at-fault party’s malicious, willful, oppressive, fraudulent, or reckless behavior. They use punitive damages to deter the at-fault party and others from future similar behaviors. Some states have a split-recovery statute, which means a portion of the victim’s punitive damage award goes to the state. However, they can still keep all of their compensatory damage awards.
Contact an Experienced Road Rage Attorney Today
If you suffered injuries in an accident caused by or that involved a road-raging driver, you have legal rights and options. A road rage accident attorney can review them with you and help you determine how to move forward in pursuing fair compensation.
Even if the driver faces criminal charges for their behavior, you still have a right to file a civil claim. Although they are an essential piece in getting justice, criminal charges won’t result in money to compensate you for your losses. Call an experienced attorney today for a no-obligation consultation.
David Abels has carved a niche for himself in the personal injury law sector, dedicating a substantial part of his career since 1997 to representing victims of various accidents. With a law practice that spans over two decades, his expertise has been consistently recognized within the legal community.