You’ve likely heard of numerous car accidents and deaths associated with road rage. An internet search of road rage in Florida will produce countless articles and news reports of the dangers being involved in a road rage encounter.
Road rage can mean different things from speeding and tailgating to yelling and flashing obscene gestures. When you’ve been involved in a road rage accident that resulted in injuries, contact a New Port Richey accident lawyer to learn about how to get compensation for your losses.
What Is Road Rage?
There are several definitions for road rage, but generally, road rage is an aggressive and confrontational form of driving. Typically, road rage is situational, brought on by congestion on the road or frustration from running late.
Road rage is dangerous and often results in motor vehicle accidents. If you’re involved in a collision caused by road rage, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and other collision-related losses.
Causes of Road Rage
Generally, road rage develops due to certain feelings or events. The following are some of the reasons drivers resort to road rage.
Traffic is usually one of, if not the most common cause of road rage. While getting stuck in traffic in the morning and evening can be frustrating, it is never an excuse to engage in dangerous driving behaviors.
Traffic is a normal part of everyday life and is usually no one’s fault. Therefore, drivers shouldn’t endanger others with their road rage.
Running Behind Schedule
Everyone has been there at some point: you’re running late and need to get to your destination as quickly as possible. The stress and pressure are usually enough to trigger road rage. Still, delays in a person’s schedule are no one’s fault but that person’s. Therefore, drrivers have no excuse for creating danger on the road and causing accidents.
It is common for emotions like sadness and anger to interfere with life to a certain degree. This often includes affecting a person’s ability to drive safely. When a driver is already emotional, it doesn’t take much to anger them, causing them to engage in road rage behaviors.
Disregard of Others and the Law
Sometimes, road rage simply arises due to utter disregard for the safety of others and traffic laws. Often, these individuals with no regard for others and the law are the most dangerous, as they care very little about the repercussions of their actions.
Driving Under the Influence
Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal in every state. When someone is intoxicated, they cannot safely operate a vehicle. Impaired drivers make questionable decisions and put themselves and others at risk.
Unfortunately, sometimes road rage is just a matter of habit. Some drivers have just made it a habit to drive aggressively and dangerously, no matter their circumstances. When this is the case, these drivers have gotten accustomed to driving in such a manner with no consequence.
Common Road Rage Behaviors
Road rage often manifests itself through a collection of different risky driving behaviors. The actions most commonly associated with road rage are as follows.
Exceeding the speed limit is one of the most common types of road rage behaviors, especially when the cause of the road rage is running late. Speeding is typically associated with more serious car accidents, as there is a greater risk of losing control of the vehicle, and the impact is far worse. For over 20 years, speeding has caused about one-third of accident deaths.
Excessive and Unsafe Lane Changes
Excessively weaving in and out of traffic lanes regularly occurs with road rage. This is particularly the case when an individual is trying to “beat” traffic and get to their destination quicker.
Typically, these frequent lane changes are risky, as drivers fail to use their signals and often shove themselves in between vehicles. When drivers change lanes so much, it can quickly result in a collision.
Tailgating is the act of following a vehicle too closely. Usually, when a person excessively weaves in between lanes of traffic, they also engage in tailgating as they plan their next move.
Following cars too closely is often the cause of rear-end collisions. When a driver leaves such little room between their vehicle and the vehicle in front of them, an accident is likely. Should the front driver need to stop quickly for whatever reason, the driver in the back will have no room to stop safely, colliding with the vehicle in front of them.
Brake checking is often associated with tailgating. Typically, when a driver wants to startle the driver behind them, either because they feel the rear driver is following them too closely, or they simply want to cause issues, they’ll brake check.
When a driver brake checks, they quickly slam on their brakes. The sudden and unexpected stop usually scares or annoys the rear driver, which is commonly the goal of the front driver.
Brake checking is illegal. It is considered dangerous driving and is punishible with jailtime. Rear-end accidents are a regular result of brake checking, and these collisions can mean trouble for the rear driver. Although the back driver is usually not at fault in a brake-checking accident, rear drivers often face blame for these types of collisions – unless they have a skilled accident attorney to prove the other driver was engaging in brake checking.
At the very least, most drivers who are caught engaging in brake checking can expect to be partially at fault for the accident – and at the most they can expect to 100 percent liable for the crash. Therefore, it’s a challenge for rear drivers to clear their names and prove the front driver’s liability.
Failing to Yield
Every state has laws regarding yielding, including Florida. Yielding involves allowing the other person to go ahead of you. Drivers must yield to others on the road, including vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians, in certain situations. Additionally, drivers must yield to emergency vehicles.
When a driver is tailgating, they often have little regard for others and, therefore, don’t feel the need to yield. If the other party knows they have the right of way, they may proceed into the street or intersection, expecting the driver to yield. If the driver does not yield, this can quickly result in a serious accident.
Speeding is often associated with failing to yield, as drivers speed down streets, not giving anyone the right of way.
When you approach a stop sign or blinking red light, you must make a full stop to ensure no vehicles are coming before proceeding into the intersection. However, when a driver does a rolling stop, this means they fail to come to a complete stop and instead roll through the stop.
Often, road rage drivers are in a rush. Therefore, they don’t want to take the time required to make a safe, full stop. Still, stop signs exist for a reason. When a party doesn’t stop and look before continuing through, they can miss an oncoming driver and cause an accident.
If you’ve driven for a while, you likely know what flashing headlights or flashing the bright lights means. Typically, when the driver behind you flashes their headlights, this means they want you to move out of their way. Flashing headlights can be an aggressive way to try to intimidate you into moving, especially when the driver is also following you dangerously close.
Yelling and Intimidation
Because road rage is associated with anger and aggression, it’s no surprise that these drivers regularly add in intimidation tactics, like yelling and obscene gestures. Add this in with any other road rage behavior, and it can spell out high risk on the road.
Is Road Rage a Crime?
So, is road rage just a pesky occurrence, or is it an actual crime? This varies from state to state, but in many areas, engaging in dangerous road rage behaviors can actually be considered a criminal offense.
Road rage is a crime in Florida. Depending on the severity of injuries, road rage can lead to misdemeanor and felony charges. Not only will the at-fault driver face criminal penalties for their wrongdoings, but they can also face civil lawsuits as well.
A car accident attorney in your area can provide more detailed information regarding the laws in your state and how they can affect your collision claim and compensation.
Aggressive Driving vs. Road Rage
You’ve likely heard “road rage” and “aggressive driving” used interchangeably; however, the two are not the same. While some of the driving behaviors can be similar, fundamentally, the two differ.
Aggressive driving can combine several traffic offenses, but it is not always crime. Drivers that drive aggressively don’t usually intend to cause harm. Road rage, on the other hand, is a crime, as an individual that engages in road rage behaviors willfully puts others at risk.
Aggressive driving can escalate to road rage, but road rage behaviors do not occur in every incident of aggressive driving.
Liability for Car Accidents Caused by Road Rage
Simply put, if a driver causes your accident because they’ve engaged in risky road rage behaviors, they should be liable for your collision.
Although stating your claim that the other driver was entirely at fault for your accident is a start, it is not enough to recover financially. You must prove your claims using helpful evidence, such as police reports, witness statements, and surveillance footage.
Accidents caused by road rage often rest upon a theory of negligence. If your case results from the other driver’s negligence, your car accident lawyer can establish the necessary elements of negligence, which include proving the driver owed you a duty, they breached their duty, their actions were the cause of your accident, and you suffered damages.
Your attorney may, however, prove the at-fault driver’s actions were intentional or reckless instead of negligent. If this is the case, you may have a claim for additional damages, called punitive damages, that are usually only available in cases where a defendant’s actions go above negligence and cause the victim harm.
What Damages Can Your Recover in a Road Rage Accident?
If you’re involved in a road rage accident that was the other person’s fault, you can pursue monetary recovery for your injuries, property damage, and other related losses. Damages for collisions can be economic, representing your monetary losses, and non-economic, meaning your non-monetary damages.
Economic damages can include:
- Medical bills, including those for emergency medical services, treatment for your injuries, and hospital stays
- Therapy and rehabilitation expenses
- Lost income
- Lost or diminished earning capacity
- Property damage
Your non-economic damages can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional distress
- Permanent scarring
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Accurately calculating your damages is critical, as this allows you to understand the value of your claim. When you know how much your case is worth, you have a better chance of recovering the compensation you truly deserve after your collision.
What to Do After a Road Rage Accident
If you find yourself at the center of a road rage incident:
- Call 911: Immediately after an accident, call 911. You want the police at the scene of your collision. In the days following your accident, police will create a police report with details regarding your accident, which attorneys can use as evidence to build your claim.
- Get medical attention: Regardless of how you feel after a crash, get medical attention. You can suffer injuries in an accident, but because of the adrenaline your body releases, you may not feel any physical symptoms. Getting medical aid can give you insight as to what injuries you suffered during your crash.
- Start gathering evidence: If you can, begin collecting helpful evidence, including photos and videos and witness contact information.
- Report your accident: Car insurance companies want to know when their insured vehicles have been in collisions. Therefore, as soon as you can, you should notify your insurer of the crash, even if you’re not at fault. Always have your lawyer handle this notification.
Finally, consult with a car accident lawyer as quickly as possible after your road collision. Time is of the essence after a car accident, and the sooner you speak with an attorney, the sooner they can begin working on your claim.
After a Collision Due to Road Rage, Consult With a Car Accident Attorney Right Away
If you suffer injuries and losses in a road rage accident, you should not shoulder the financial burden of your collision. So, after a collision caused by road rage, talk with a qualified car accident lawyer as soon as possible for legal guidance.