You have probably witnessed a driver losing their temper, taking it out on other road users through incessant honking, tailgating, or aggressive driving to scare other motorists. The situation may scare and disorient you more if you are on the receiving end.
Typically, motorists have road rage when they get angry at other drivers and become aggressive. The aggression may cause them to retaliate, resulting in tragic accidents, life-threatening injuries, and property damage.
You deserve compensation if you get hurt or suffer losses in a road rage incident. A car accident attorney can help hold the perpetrator accountable for their actions and help ensure you get compensated for your injuries and losses.
Why Road Rage Is a Threat to Public Safety
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines road rage as an angry or violent form of aggressive driving. It threatens public safety because driving in an aggressive or enraged state increases the chances of causing road crashes. Road rage typically involves acts intended to harm or intimidate others and may also entail intentional harmful acts.
Road rage is commonplace when emotions come into play during unfavorable driving situations.
The result is aggressive driving behaviors such as:
- Cursing other drivers or making offensive/obscene signals.
- Ramming other vehicles intentionally.
- Driving off the designated road area.
- Chasing other motorists at high speeds.
- Aggressive honking.
- Displaying weapons to intimidate others.
- Dangerous or erratic lane changes.
- Tailgating other motorists for extended periods.
- Flashing headlights unnecessarily.
These and other forms of aggressive driving can shake you if you are on the receiving end.
What Causes Road Rage?
A recent report highlighted that road rage is a factor in over 50 percent of all fatal crashes. As such, aggressive driving and road rage is more common than you may think.
The factors that contribute to road rage incidents include:
- Congestion and traffic delays.
- A sense of anonymity.
- Habitual behavior.
- Disregard for other motorists.
Regardless of the reason, driving aggressively and risking other road users’ safety is inexcusable. If you have been in an accident caused by road rage, a skilled attorney can provide the legal help you need to recover your damages.
How to Respond to a Road Rage Accident
Since road rage often results in crashes, it is best to know how to respond to ensure your safety and increase your chances of building a robust compensation lawsuit. In that regard, here are the steps to take if you get involved in a road rage accident:
Move to a Safer Location
Your safety is paramount, so the first thing to do after a road rage accident is to move to a safer spot on the road. Adrenaline may inspire panic or retaliation, but it is best to stay calm, process the circumstances, and figure out the best way to deal with the aggressor. Do not forget to switch your vehicle’s emergency lights on after moving it to a safer location.
Contact the Police
After a road rage accident, file a police report. You can also request emergency medical services if any injuries require treatment. The aggressive driver may try to dissuade or coerce you not to contact the authorities and settle the matter without their involvement.
Nonetheless, contacting the police offers additional protection, especially if the at-fault driver is unusually violent or aggressive. Sometimes, road rage drivers decline to provide their insurance information, contact details, and other information, but the police can obtain it for you. The police report can also support your compensation claim or lawsuit.
Exchange Contact and Insurance Information
While waiting for the authorities to arrive at the accident scene, you may want to exchange insurance and contact information with the other motorists involved in the accident. That is particularly true if the road rage driver is willing to cooperate. The details to collect include names, insurance information, addresses, and license plates.
Identify Potential Witnesses
Besides getting the contact information of those involved in the accident, you should identify those who might have witnessed it. Witness testimonies can affirm your version of events and enable you to prove fault.
Document the Scene
If possible, take photographs and record video footage of the accident scene, capturing all injuries and damage to the vehicles and surrounding area. If you are unable to do this, call a Long Island car accident attorney so that they can try to preserve any available video before it disappears.
While documenting the scene, do not forget to capture tire tracks, accident debris, and any other detail that can help your case. The evidence can show what happened at the scene and hold the road rage driver liable for the accident.
Seek Medical Treatment
It is best to seek immediate medical treatment regardless of whether you have visible injuries. The accident-related injuries may not appear immediately, and seeking treatment can provide a clean bill of health. Moreover, a diagnosis ensures that you start the recovery process early.
Your treatment will be backed by medical records, which can support your claim by proving that the injuries resulted from the accident. Insurance companies may try to water down the severity of your injuries and avoid liability if you wait too long before seeking treatment.
Contact an Attorney
Having an attorney allows you to focus on recovering while they pursue compensation on your behalf. An attorney can advise you on the best way forward when dealing with the road-rage driver and their insurer. A skilled car accident attorney can also help you calculate the recoverable compensation, negotiate with insurance companies, and file a lawsuit on your behalf.
Negligence and Liability in Road Rage Accidents
If a road rage driver caused the accident that led to your injuries and losses, they might be financially liable for your damages. It is best to remember that in a comparative fault state like New York, you can recover damages even if you are partly at fault for the accident.
Insurance companies may take advantage of this by highlighting your share of fault and watering down your claim. For this reason, you need an aggressive Long Island attorney experienced in dealing with insurance companies.
Generally, establishing the road rage driver’s liability entails proving that their negligent or reckless action resulted in the accident. Violations of New York’s traffic law qualify as negligence and include speeding, illegal lane change, failure to yield, not following at a safe distance, and running red lights.
Recovering Damages After a Road Rage Accident
Road rage drivers are often liable for any damage or losses caused by their aggressive driving. If you are a victim of their recklessness and negligence, an easy way to recover damages will be by filing a claim against the road rage driver’s insurance carrier.
Road rage is often intentional and excluded from most insurance policies. As a victim, an excellent way to recover damages is by filing a third-party personal injury claim. Your insurance carrier may also cover some of the damages you suffered. Consulting an attorney can help you determine the most suitable course of action in recovering compensation.
Recoverable Damages in Road Rage Accidents
The damages you may recover depend on the circumstances of the road rage accident you got involved in.
Road crashes often lead to high medical expenses, and the person responsible for the accident should cover the treatment costs. This may include the medical expenses incurred before filing the compensation claim and expected costs.
The injuries you suffer in the accident may force you out of work or see you working for fewer hours, thus resulting in lost or reduced earnings. A seemingly minor road rage incident can cause you to miss work, so it is best to ensure the negligent driver covers the lost wages. You may also want to factor in the loss of future earning capacity when filing your compensation claim.
Property damage is commonplace during road rage incidents. For instance, if the aggressive driver rear-ends you, they will be responsible for repairing or replacing your vehicle. Document the damage to your car and other property so that the aggressive driver is held liable for the losses suffered.
Pain and Suffering
This is non-economic damage, but it is as essential as the other forms of compensation. In the context of road rage accident claims, pain and suffering encompass the emotional and physical pain you suffer from the incident.
Regardless of the damages, you seek to recover, holding the responsible driver liable can help alleviate your financial burden. You can recover damages by filing a personal injury or car accident claim against the road rage driver and their insurance carriers.
Why You Should Avoid Settling Without an Attorney
When you get involved in an accident, you will want to recover your damages within the shortest time possible and move on with your life. Insurance companies know this too well and can take advantage of it to offer a lowball settlement that is not worth the damages and losses you suffered. For this reason, you should avoid negotiating with insurance companies or settling until you consult a skilled Long Island attorney.
Suffering minor losses or injuries should not persuade you to overlook the significance of an attorney. Once you settle, it is impossible to seek compensation if further damages and losses arise later. An attorney can inform you about your legal options in recovering compensation and advise on whether a claim or lawsuit is the best way forward.
Facing insurance adjusters on your own is one of the worst mistakes you can make. They serve the insurance company’s interests, so they will not do you any favors. Moreover, the insurance company is likely to lawyer up, knowing too well that your claim could affect their bottom line.
New York Road Rage Statute of Limitations
As with other lawsuits and compensation claims, road rage accident claims in Long Island and New York must be filed within a specified timeframe. According to the New York Civil Practice Law & Rules (CVP) § 214, lawsuits of this nature have a three-year statute of limitations. In some situations, you have far less time, so don’t delay in reaching out to an attorney.
You will be unable to recover your losses and damages if you file your claim outside this period, even with solid evidence proving the aggressive driver’s liability. For this reason, you need to act quickly and file your claim early. Contact a personal injury attorney to start working on your case immediately, so you get compensated fairly and promptly.
What is the most common form of road rage?
Road rage primarily manifests in honking, yelling at, or tailgating another vehicle, and is a factor in many road accidents.
How can you avoid road rage?
The best way to keep yourself safe and evade a potentially deadly confrontation is to try to remove yourself from an aggressive situation. Remember that most road rage drivers act aggressively to spur you into action.
What is the risk of road rage?
The most obvious risk of road rage is that you might get distracted and cause an accident.
Contact a Long Island Personal Injury Attorney
The last thing you want to deal with is a road rage driver. Things will be trickier for you if the driver’s aggressiveness/intimidation causes an accident with significant losses and injuries. If that happens to you, a personal injury lawyer can help you get the justice you deserve.
A personal injury attorney understands how nerve-wracking it is to get involved in a road rage incident, so they are here to help alleviate some of your stress. You can count on a skilled attorney to build a strong case that ensures you get fully compensated for your losses via a fair settlement offer or court award.
Often, personal injury law firms operate on a contingency fee basis, so they will not charge you upfront attorney’s fees until they recover your losses and damages. Contact a personal injury attorney today to schedule a free case evaluation if you or a loved one suffers injuries and losses in a road rage accident.