Every driver has become impatient with other traffic at some point—especially when in a hurry or running late. Most drivers manage to handle their impatience appropriately—but some become aggressive toward other drivers. Aggressive driving is a major problem on almost every roadway, and Chicago drivers are notorious for their often aggressive maneuvers, which can lead to accidents.
Aggressive driving, however, can reach another level—one that Illinois law defines as “road rage.” You have likely heard the term numerous times, but many people do not realize it is the name of a specific criminal offense in Illinois. Road rage is defined under the law as intentionally driving a car with malice in an unlawful way that puts other drivers, bicyclists, or pedestrians in danger.
Road rage not only distracts and intimidates others, it can result in actual harm. Road rage is possibly more common than you think, and you may risk injuries from a road rage accident any time you set out on the road.
Facts About Road Rage
Statistics indicate that during a seven-year period in the United States, road rage injured more than 12,600 persons and killed 218. Road rage can include many different illegal driving behaviors, including but not limited to:
- Purposeful tailgating to intimidate drivers
- Weaving through traffic and passing dangerously
- Excessive speeding for traffic or road conditions
- Unnecessarily honking or flashing lights at other drivers to intimidate them
- Yelling threats at other drivers
- Displaying weapons from a vehicle in a threatening manner
- Following other vehicles off the highway or into parking lots to make threats
Road rage can lead the aggressive driver to crash into someone else, can run the road rage victim off the road, or can result in other types of crashes. In some cases, road rage can cause harm when a crash does not even occur.
A recent story out of Elmhurst shows just how far road rage can escalate. According to reports, a dispute occurred on the road between the occupants of two vehicles. Someone in one car shot a gun toward the other car, hitting the driver in the face. While the 65-year-old victim is expected to recover, he did have to receive medical treatments for the gunshot wound and will likely incur numerous losses from the incident. This is only one example of the many instances of road rage that turned violent and resulted in severe injuries.
Illinois law aims to hold road raging drivers liable by imposing criminal penalties. If road rage occurs without any injuries, the law considers it a Class A misdemeanor. However, if the road rage caused serious injuries to anyone else, the law classifies it as a felony offense with mandatory time in jail. Additional criminal charges can mount up if the road raging driver committed other offenses, such as the above-mentioned situation in which the road raging driver shot someone.
While the criminal justice system aims to punish road raging drivers by imposing jail sentences, fines, probation, and other penalties, a criminal case often does little for injured victims of road rage. Instead, a road rage victim will usually need to pursue financial compensation in a separate case.
The law allows injured accident victims to seek compensation from those who caused their injuries through negligence or intentional wrongdoing. Road rage accidents are no different, and victims may generally seek compensation for all of their injury-related losses, which may include:
- All of their medical expenses, including for emergency treatments, surgeries, time spent in the hospital, doctor’s appointments, medications, physical therapy, and any necessary ongoing or future treatments.
- Any wages lost because victims had to miss work during treatments or because injuries kept them from performing their jobs. This also can include future lost income if they are unable to return to their jobs for extended periods of time.
- Intangible losses that are not directly tied to financial losses but instead compensate them for pain and suffering, mental distress caused by the accident and injuries, any permanent disabilities that resulted, and more.
In addition to the above losses, victims of such egregious and intentional behaviors such as road rage can often receive punitive damages. These damages are above and beyond any tangible losses and instead are meant to punish the road raging driver.
Road rage victims can go about receiving the money they deserve, and your path to compensation will depend on the circumstances of your accident and injuries. For example, if you sustained relatively minor injuries and only incurred a few medical bills, you may receive compensation by filing a claim with the dangerous driver’s insurance company. To ensure that you receive the full value of your claim, always hire an experienced auto accident attorney to handle every step of the insurance process.
If your injuries are serious, however, an insurance claim may not cover all of your past and future losses. In such a situation, you also may want to seek compensation for intangible losses and punitive damages as well, which are usually not possible through the insurance process. You probably need to file a personal injury claim in court seeking all of the damages you deserve from the road raging driver. You want an attorney with extensive experience handling this type of case on your side throughout this process so that you can hold the dangerous driver who hurt you fully accountable.
Our Chicago Car Accident Law Firm is Here is Help You
If you were injured by another driver—whether you were in a car, on a bicycle, or were a pedestrian—do not hesitate to schedule a free consultation with the Chicago personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes. Contact us online or call (312) 924-7575 for more information today.