Road rage is a senseless act of aggression that makes the roadways dangerous. If someone else’s reckless driving injured you, the law might entitle you to compensation. This settlement or award could pay for your medical expenses, lost income, and other accident-related damages.
Is road rage illegal?
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) defines road rage as “an extreme form of aggressive driving that is a risk factor for vehicular-accident injury and death.” Some of the behaviors associated with aggressive driving are illegal.
These actions can include:
- Driving over the posted speed limit
- Passing other vehicles while in a “no passing” zone
- Running a red light or ignoring a stop sign
- Following a car too closely (tailgating)
Any act of road rage—illegal or not—can result in serious and life-threatening injuries. If another driver’s reckless actions injured you, you may file a personal injury claim in civil court.
Your right to pursue this claim is independent of any criminal charges the other driver may face.
5 Reasons You Need an Attorney After a Road Rage Accident
Some people want to take a wait-and-see approach after an accident. They want to see what the insurance company offers before consulting with an attorney, and this delay is often a mistake. Below are five reasons why you should contact an attorney right away.
1. The other driver has already proven they are irrational
A person’s past behavior can indicate future behavior. Anyone who engaged in road rage may behave unpredictably. You need a lawyer who can protect your legal rights and look after your best interests.
2. You may not receive an adequate offer from the insurance company
The insurance company’s legal team doesn’t want to settle for more than they have to. These attorneys may try to blame you for the crash, even when the evidence proves otherwise. Your attorney can build a strong case on your behalf.
3. It’s tempting to accept a fast (but unfair) settlement
Without legal representation, you could accept a settlement too soon. The insurance company knows you have bills to pay, and you need money now. They’ll take advantage of your vulnerability with a lowball offer.
One issue with a rushed settlement is that your doctor may not have an accurate prognosis yet. You may not know your prognosis and future medical care. If you accept a payout too soon, you could be left with unpaid medical bills and lost income in the future.
4. A punitive fine doesn’t cover your damages
If your accident results in criminal charges against the other driver, you may receive a punitive fine. However, this money does not cover your accident-related expenses.
A punitive fine is a form of punishment for the negligent party. This amount may be relatively small compared to your actual expenses.
If you want to receive compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and emotional distress, you may need to file a claim in civil court.
5. An accident victim is no match for an insurance company
It is difficult—if not impossible—for an individual to negotiate with an insurance company. Their legal team is skilled in negotiation tactics. And they have deep knowledge of personal injury law.
If you don’t have a lawyer to represent you, the insurance company may deny your claim. You’ll be left to build a case, which many people do not have the resources to do.
A personal injury law firm can conduct a thorough investigation of your accident. They can work with other professionals to find and interview witnesses, take legal action to obtain evidence, and recreate the accident scene.
Average Road Rage Accident Settlement
After a crash, it’s normal to wonder, “How much is the average road rage injury settlement?” There is no standard payment for road rage victims.
When the insurance company calculates their initial offer, they may consider the costs associated with your:
- Doctor and hospital bills
- Lost income, while you recover
- Pain and suffering
However, the insurance company’s offer can fall short of what the law entitles you to. Their initial offer may not take into account your future accident-related expenses. And it may not portray a fair calculation of your emotional distress.
After a car accident, you usually have only one opportunity to receive compensation. After you accept a payout, you typically can’t sue for more money down the road. You need to maximize your settlement.
What are the damages in a road rage accident?
In the law, a damage is any harm you experienced due to another party’s negligence. The law categorizes these damages as either economic or noneconomic.
Economic damages in a road rage crash
Economic damages are any objective expenses that have a verifiable cost:
- Medical expenses
- An ambulance ride and ER visit
- Diagnostic tests
- Physical or occupational therapy
- Lost income
- While you recover
- If you can only return to work in a diminished capacity
- If your injuries leave you permanently disabled
- The cost of domestic services that you can no longer perform
- In-home care
An accident that someone else caused shouldn’t leave you in debt.
Noneconomic damages in a road rage crash
The subjective damages of a car accident are called noneconomic:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- According to Verywell Mind, car accidents are the leading cause of Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the general population.
- The psychological effects of permanent disability or disfigurement
- Loss of consortium for your spouse
The insurance company may try to downplay or even dismiss your noneconomic damages. A road rage accident lawyer can fight for maximum compensation.
No amount of money can undo the emotional and psychological impact of the accident. But compensation for these damages holds the negligent party responsible. And you may feel a sense of closure after you receive a settlement.
Who can file a road rage accident injury claim?
Under many circumstances, the law requires the injured party to take legal action.
However, there are circumstances where someone else can file a claim on behalf of the injured party:
- Parents and legal guardians must file lawsuits for their minor children.
- A close relative or power of attorney may pursue a settlement if the injured person is incapacitated.
- If your loved one died due to their injuries, state law might make you eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Typically, a surviving spouse, children, or parents can file a wrongful death claim.
Some family circumstances are complex, and state laws do vary. If you have any questions about your or another person’s eligibility to pursue legal action, consult with an attorney.
Don’t Miss the Deadline to File a Road Rage Accident Lawsuit
No matter where you live in the U.S., you don’t have forever to file a car accident claim. Each state sets a time limit, called a statute of limitations.
For example, Florida Statute § 95.11 allows you to take legal action within four years from the accident. If you try to file a claim after that deadline, the court may refuse to hear your case.
And the longer you wait to file a claim, the more difficult it can be to gather evidence. Evidence fades with time. It’s easier to obtain eyewitness testimony and surveillance footage right after a crash.
Road Rage Accident Lawyer Fees
If you’re unable to work and have mounting medical costs, the last thing you need is another bill. Some people put off contacting a lawyer because they don’t have the money. Many personal injury law firms understand this and don’t want finances to be a barrier.
Some road rage accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. They may not charge any upfront fees to get started on your claim. When your case resolves, they take their fee out of your settlement.
Many car accident law firms offer a free consultation or case review.
Use this meeting to ask:
- How much are your fees? When are they due?
- What other costs may arise during my case?
- If I lose my case and don’t win a settlement, what will I owe you?
When you hire an attorney, you should know their fee structure and payment schedule.
How long does a road rage case take to settle?
No one wants their car accident case to drag out. But a fast settlement may not adequately compensate you.
The insurance company knows you are vulnerable and need money now. They hope you’ll accept their initial offer so they can close your case and move on. When your attorney attempts to negotiate a settlement, the insurance company may stall.
There is no easy answer to “How long will my car accident case take to settle?” Several factors can affect the length of your case.
The severity of your injuries
Accidents that result in catastrophic injuries like brain damage, paralysis, and amputation have a high monetary value. These types of cases may take longer to settle.
However, any injury can change your life. Negotiations may also take longer if permanent disabilities keep you from returning to work.
Certain injuries like traumatic brain injuries can have a long recovery time. Your doctors may not have a clear prognosis for some time. If you settle your case too early, your settlement may not be enough to cover your lifelong costs.
How easy it is to establish liability?
If other people witnessed the road rage or cameras captured the incident, you might have a strong case. Alternatively, a lack of certain evidence could delay a potential settlement.
Can you collect compensation without a trial?
The short answer is, “Yes.”
Some people mistakenly think that the only way to win compensation is through a lawsuit and trial. But often, a court trial is not necessary. Many car accident cases successfully settle before going to court. However, your attorney will discuss this option with you.
When it comes to a personal injury claim, many people are relieved to learn these facts:
- Court trials are rarely as dramatic as they are portrayed on TV and in the movies.
- The real-life trials that cable networks broadcast do not depict your average car accident case. Individuals behave differently when they know millions of viewers are watching them.
- A trial has disadvantages for you and the insurance company, including increased costs and an uncertain outcome.
- As the injured party (plaintiff), you may decide if your case goes to trial or not. Your lawyer can advise of the pros and cons, but the choice is ultimately yours to make.
Many car accident claims settle without anyone stepping foot in a courtroom.
What to Do After a Road Rage Accident?
The hours and days after an accident are critical. You must protect your health and preserve your legal rights.
Seek medical care
After an injury, you need prompt evaluation and medical treatment. If you delay medical care, your injuries could worsen.
Furthermore, you can’t pursue a settlement if you don’t have documented expenses. You must have a diagnosis from a doctor and receive treatment. The initial doctor or ER visit starts the paper trail for your car accident claim.
Obtain a copy of the police report
The police report is the official record of the accident. Both your insurance company and your attorney will need to see a copy.
Notify your insurance company
Tell your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible.
Contact a lawyer
You can call an attorney on the same day as your accident. There is no reason to put off obtaining legal counsel.