Road rage is a common problem that puts people at risk on the road every day. When drivers exhibit road rage, the risk of an accident increases as they lose control over their emotions and their vehicles.
If a road rage incident turns into an accident, victims may be able to recover compensation from the parties responsible, as aggressive driving and road rage are forms of negligence.
With the help of a reliable car accident attorney, victims of road rage accidents may have the chance to build a case and file a claim or lawsuit against negligent individuals.
What Is Road Rage?
Road rage often takes place and involves different types of potentially dangerous behaviors. In some cases, road rage may culminate in an assault on one or more individuals. However, road rage and aggressive driving are different types of negligence.
The definitions of aggressive driving and road rage are:
- Aggressive driving - Drivers who engage in aggressive driving commit certain types of traffic offenses when attempting to make it to the front of surrounding traffic. This often entails tailgating, cutting people off from traffic, speeding, and making unexpected and unsafe lane changes. Because of this behavior, aggressive drivers frequently put other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and property at risk.
- Road rage - Aggressive driving is serious enough, but road rage takes this behavior one step further and may qualify as a criminal offense depending on the behavior that drivers exhibit. Road rage could involve drivers who shout and scream at other drivers, but it can also result in physical harm and even death.
What Aggressive Driving and Road Rage Entail?
In many instances, aggressive driving involves certain disagreements between drivers, along with threats, distracted driving, and other aggressive behavior. This aggression can dramatically increase the risk of getting involved in an accident, particularly as one or more drivers direct their attention toward the aggressive driver and away from the task of driving. The aggressive and defensive drivers may begin to drive recklessly, putting themselves and others in danger.
Drivers may display one or more types of aggressive driving behavior that could contribute to a road rage accident:
- Running lights and stop signs
- Cutting off drivers
- Slowing down to prevent a driver from continuing forward
- Making lane changes without a turn signal
- Unexpectedly slamming on the brakes
- Driving between two lane
All of these and other types of aggressive driving can cause accidents, and they may develop into road rage that takes this behavior to the next level. Road rage could involve verbal threats and aggressive driving, along with the use of weapons and physical violence.
How Common Is Road Rage?
Road rage frequently occurs on America’s roadways. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Auto Vantage, both aggressive driving and road rage often contribute to serious accidents, many of which are fatal.
Some of the stats compiled on SafeMotorist include:
- In seven years, 12,610 injuries and 218 murders resulted at least partially from road rage.
- 66 percent of traffic fatalities result from aggressive driving.
- The most frequent perpetrators of road rage are males under 19 years of age.
- 37 percent of aggressive driving incidents involve a type of firearm
Additionally, a national survey by The Zebra found that 54.8 percent of people believe that road rage and drunk driving are equally dangerous.
These and other stats show that road rage is a common and serious problem that requires plenty of attention and prevention.
Driving Behaviors That May Cause Road Rage
In some cases, one driver’s aggressive driving can cause road rage in others. For example, drivers may:
- Flash their headlights at other drivers
- Tailgate other drivers
- Cut off other drivers
- Use their horns excessively
These and other similar behaviors could trigger road rage in others. Although it’s not your fault if others engage in aggressive driving and road rage when you drive normally, keep your behavior in check and remember that other drivers can react unpredictably to your actions.
The Recoverable Damages in Road Rage Accident Cases
Similar to other behaviors, road rage could cause everything from mild injuries to extreme physical and emotional distress to wrongful death. The different damages involved could include economic, non-economic, or punitive damages.
Economic or special damages involve relatively easy expenses to calculate. These include bills incurred and other costs that accumulate during the recovery process or due to disability.
Some specific types of economic damages could include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- The cost of ongoing treatment
- Physical therapy
- Replacement or repair of damaged property
These damages, also known as general damages, primarily involve pain and suffering that victims experience and are harder to calculate. The degree of pain and suffering that victims experience will differ from person to person. Mental and physical distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium are some of the main types of non-economic damages that victims may be able to recover following a road rage accident.
In extreme road rage, the court may award punitive damages in a lawsuit. These are damages that aim solely to punish the defendant for exhibiting unusually aggressive behavior and gross negligence, unlike economic and non-economic damages intended to award the victim.
If you’re not sure which damages you qualify for after a road rage accident, a trusted car accident attorney can help calculate all economic and non-economic damages. An attorney may also determine if you should seek punitive damages.
Determining Liability and Recovering Compensation Following Road Rage Accidents
Motorists who drive aggressively are often liable for damages if a car accident occurs. Most car accidents entail victims seeking compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier, but insurance policies often don’t cover policyholders if they cause an accident through aggressive driving or road rage.
These acts are intentional, excluding them from many policies. As a result, victims may need to seek compensation from at-fault drivers by filing a third-party personal injury lawsuit.
Victims’ insurance providers may also be able to cover some of the damages sustained, but they typically don’t cover all of them. Serious injuries and other significant damages that involve large dollar amounts may not fall under insurance coverage. Instead, it’s often best to consult with an attorney to discuss the options available and determine how to recover compensation.
Ultimately, a lawyer can help determine if you can recover damages through:
- The at-fault driver’s insurance
- Your insurance coverage
- A personal injury lawsuit
- Criminal charges leading to punitive damages
Steps to Take After a Road Rage Accident
Following a road rage accident, you should take certain steps to keep yourself and others safe and increase your chances of building a successful car accident case. These steps include the following:
#1. Move Your Vehicle to a Safe Location
If possible, try to move your vehicle to a safe spot on the side of the road. Also, try your best to stay calm. While adrenaline may inspire panic, remaining calm and collective can help you process the situation and figure out the best way to deal with an aggressive and potentially violent driver. When pulled to the side of the road, switch on your emergency lights.
#2. Dial 9-1-1
The next step should be to call 9-1-1, which will get the police involved. You may also request medical personnel if anyone sustained injuries in the accident requiring immediate treatment. While an aggressive driver may attempt to convince or coerce you not to call the authorities, you should try to reach them.
By contacting the police, you can benefit from additional protection if a driver is unusually aggressive and violent, and the police will generate a police report that may support your car accident claim or lawsuit. The police may also be able to obtain insurance information and other details from the driver if you’re afraid to interact directly with the aggressor.
#3. Exchange Information
As you wait for the police to arrive at the accident scene, take the time to exchange information with other drivers involved. If the aggressive driver is willing to cooperate, you may be able to exchange information with them.
However, you can wait until the police arrive to do so. The details you should collect include insurance information, names, addresses, phone numbers, and license plates, and other information about the vehicles involved.
#4. Obtain Witness Details
In addition to the people directly involved in the accident, you should obtain information from witnesses who saw the accident take place. Witness testimony may support your version of events and make it easier to prove fault in a car accident case. If you're unable to get witness information at the scene of the accident, you may be able to obtain it through the police if witnesses spoke to them.
#5. Gather Physical Evidence
If you can, take photos or record video footage at the accident scene. Capture all injuries, vehicle damage, and the surrounding area to ensure you can accurately show what the scene looked like immediately after the accident. If you can't collect this evidence immediately following the accident, call a car accident lawyer. They can return to the scene as quickly as possible to capture the details before any remaining evidence disappears.
Evidence remaining at the scene could include tire tracks, debris, and unrepaired nearby property damage. These details can further show what transpired at the accident scene, which may further support your case.
#6. Seek Professional Medical Treatment
In many cases, accidents may result in injuries that don't appear severe at first but become more serious after the accident. Often, adrenaline conceals the symptoms that victims might otherwise experience. The sooner you seek treatment following the accident, the sooner you can receive a diagnosis and begin the recovery process if you sustained any injuries.
In addition, seeking treatment helps generate medical records early on that can help support your claim. Keep in mind that if you wait too long to seek treatment, insurance companies or attorneys investigating your case may try to argue that your injuries aren’t severe enough to warrant the amount of compensation you wish to recover.
Avoid Negotiating With Insurers Until You Consult a Car Accident Attorney
Regardless of the seriousness of your case, you should consider contacting a car accident attorney to discuss your case and the options available to you. A qualified attorney can meet with you in a free case evaluation to assess your case and determine whether you can pursue a claim or lawsuit.
An attorney can also advise you on how to negotiate with insurers. It’s important to remember that insurance adjusters are only on the insurance company’s side. Even if an initial offer from an insurer is appealing, it could be far under what you actually deserve.
A lawyer can help calculate the total recoverable compensation and negotiate with insurers to recover fair compensation. They can also provide representation in a lawsuit if the case goes to trial.