Do I Need a Lawyer If I Was Injured in an Accident Caused by Road Rage?
Known more commonly as “road rage,” aggressive driving is a negative and dangerous act that drivers engage in for a variety of reasons. The driver may be intoxicated, suffering from a mental breakdown or emotional strain, or simply be running late and in a hurry. No matter the reasons for putting oneself or others at risk, road rage is far too common. According to research conducted by SafeMotorist, a total of 12,610 injuries and over 200 deaths have been the result of road rage over a period of seven years.
Road rage can show up in a wide variety of ways. Over 45% of drivers in this particular study said the most frequent act of road rage they witnessed was a driver angrily honking their horn at them. Other acts of road rage can include rude hand gestures, yelling or screaming at other drivers, blocking other cars from moving, and fighting. However, these minor incidents can lead to much more severe repercussions than you might think.
What Exactly Is a Road Rage Accident?
The phrase “road rage” was first used in the 1990s by newscasters in Los Angeles. It was reported as being a larger problem than DWI (driving while intoxicated), resulting in aggressive drivers speeding to intimidate other drivers and running red lights. Since then, the number of road rage accidents and fatalities has skyrocketed.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has defined road rage as a case where an aggressive driver has assaulted another with a motor vehicle or caused an incident on the roadway due to aggressive behavior. Essentially, when one driver intentionally puts another person in danger (this can be another driver, passenger, or pedestrian) or causes damage to property, road rage is the cause. Road rage is usually angry, aggressive, and often even violent behavior exhibited by the driver of a vehicle.
This type of road rage scenario is alarmingly common as well. The AutoAdvantage Club and NHTSA, respectively, have found that 66% of fatalities caused in traffic incidents are caused by road rage, and 37% of aggressive driving accidents have involved a firearm of sorts.
Other types of road rage can include, but are not limited to, the following acts:
- Weaving in and around traffic
- Cutting in front of other drivers and slowing down
- Forcing a driver off the road
- Throwing something at another driver, passenger, or pedestrian
- Sideswiping another vehicle.
Is Road Rage a Criminal Offense in Texas?
Although there are currently no laws in the state of Texas that use the exact phrase “road rage,” there are acts caused by road rage that are recognized by the state due to the endangerment or acts of violence that occur as a result of road rage. Aggressive driving is, technically, deemed a traffic offense, but actual road rage incidents are classified as criminal offenses because they involve the intention to harm another person. A road rage offense is a misdemeanor, and this charge can lead to criminal conviction, up to $200 in fines, losing your driver’s license, or even doing time in county jail for up to 30 days. In a particularly bad scenario, the perpetrator might even be convicted as a felon, depending on the circumstances.
What Is Needed to File a Claim for a Road Rage Incident?
It is possible to find evidence of road rage in a variety of ways. It stands to reason that, in the event of a road rage injury accident, the more evidence you can provide to support your claim, the better the chance of your being successful. Other drivers may have witnessed the accident, and their statements will contribute to establishing the facts of the case, in addition to the police report. You may be able to refute the other driver’s claim with a medical report showing treatments at the time of the accident and since. Taking photographs of the accident site will provide supporting evidence. Moreover, a traffic camera may be able to help establish the other driver’s behavior in the event that the accident occurred on a road where there were traffic cameras.
Pain and suffering damages are in addition to compensatory damages like medical bills and lost wages from a road rage injury accident. It’s not uncommon for victims of road rage to be afraid to drive after an incident, and they may even suffer from PTSD in addition to other aftereffects.
The offending driver may be liable for punitive damages due to the reckless behavior that caused the accident. Rage driving behavior indicates someone is intent on hurting others or showing reasonable disregard for others’ safety. In such situations, you need a lawyer who knows how to proceed with a road rage lawsuit.
Do I Have to File Criminal Charges if I Don’t Want To?
The other driver doesn’t have to plead guilty or even be charged with crimes before you can file your personal injury lawsuit — but these charges could help your case. In cases where the other driver has been charged with a criminal offense, it becomes a little easier to prove liability. However, it is still possible to file a lawsuit for personal injury even if they are not arrested. In order to prove that they, for example, intended to strike your vehicle or acted in anger, you must present evidence. Furthermore, you would need to prove that they were at fault for the accident — such as rear-ending you on purpose or driving your vehicle off the road.
Could I Claim Compensatory Damages if Injured in a Road Rage Accident?
If you’ve been the victim of another person’s rage while on the road and were involved in a car accident because of it, you are entitled to certain compensation. You could file for damages, including the following:
- Lost wages: This could include visits to the doctor, treatments needed after the accident, or taking time away from your work in order to recover.
- Medical costs: This could include any treatment you received immediately after the accident, as well as any you might require in the future.
- Pain and suffering: This would include any emotional or physical pain you may have suffered after the accident, including anxiety, post-traumatic stress, physical pain due to your injuries, or depression.
How to De-Escalate a Road Rage Moment While Driving
It can be stressful to drive in the Houston area. Additionally, you have to deal with road construction, other drivers, heavy traffic, and changing weather conditions. Unfortunately, you might also encounter an irate driver during your morning or evening commute.
More than 80% of drivers in a recent survey reported feeling angry or frustrated while driving. It is difficult to gather reliable statistics on road rage, but many experts believe that aggressive driving is on the rise. It is important to know how to react to angry motorists. Here are four methods to de-escalate road rage appropriately:
When you’re dealing with an angry or irate driver, they might gesture inappropriately, yell, or assert themselves in a way that makes it appear that you did something wrong. You can’t control how they behave, but you can control your response. If a driver is aggressive toward you, slow down and change lanes to remove your vehicle from the scenario.
Nod or Wave
You’re never going to win a fight with an aggressive driver on the road. Even if you know you’re in the right, it helps to politely nod or wave in their direction to keep the encounter as quick as possible. Trying to avoid eye contact with the driver can help as well.
Maintain a Level Temperament
Any situation where anger is present will escalate if both parties are visibly angry, so it’s best to try to keep your cool. Focus on the road and breathe deeply while listening to some relaxing music. To keep things from escalating, you should never yell or match the behavior of an aggressive driver.
Always Drive Defensively
It’s best to respond to road rage with cool, firms hand on the wheel. Make sure you keep an eye on your surroundings and prepare yourself for whatever could happen. It’s also good to make sure you don’t get distracted while responding to an angry driver.
When you take the time to consider your response to an angry driver, it might change the outcome altogether. It keeps you safe behind the wheel and could keep the interaction brief.
Speak With Our Road Rage Accident Lawyer in Houston, TX, to Get Help
A civil society must show a reasonable concern for others’ safety, particularly on roadways where accidents can result in serious injuries and even death. It only takes a moment for a lack of control to result in devastating consequences. If you have been injured as the result of the negligence or recklessness of an out-of-control driver, then Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law will aggressively pursue compensation on your behalf.
Our law firm has been helping serious injury victims here in the Houston area since 1985. You can reach us 24/7 at 713-973-8888 or toll-free 1 (800) 444-5000.