Unfortunately, we live in dangerous and paranoid times. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, road rage occurs when a driver commits a moving violation or an assault with their vehicle that endangers the public or endangers private property; or a driver or passenger of one motor vehicle commits an assault with another dangerous weapon (a firearm, for example) against the driver or a passenger of another motor vehicle.
Unfortunately, Los Angeles County was listed as the nation’s capital of road rage in a study conducted by the Auto Insurance Center -- and 2018 doesn’t look to be much better based on freeway conditions, community reports and the news.
The Tale of the Numbers
Road rage incidents are unique because there is always some element of intentionality to the risk that the aggressor exposes you to. In fact, two-thirds of all auto and truck accident fatalities involve some form of aggressive driving, compared with only 40 percent of all fatal accidents that involve alcohol use. The statistics are disturbing:
- Unsurprisingly, teenage boys are most likely to drive aggressively. That means that new drivers are likely to be the most aggressive.
- Road rage is contagious -- at least half of all drivers who are victimized by aggressive behavior respond with aggressive behavior of their own, especially men.
- Stunningly, 37 percent of road rage incidents involve a firearm in some way or another.
- Road rage is far more likely to take place in the city than in the countryside.
Road Rage Triggers
Be careful how you drive, even if you know your rights -- the following acts have been known to trigger road rage incidents, with consequences that can be drastically disproportionate to the original offense:
- Repeated honking of your horn
- Tailgating (following too closely)
- Shouting or swearing
- Using “the finger” at another driver
- Deliberately bumping another vehicle
- Exciting your car to confront another driver
- Weaving in and out of traffic,
- Lane-splitting, even of you are a motorcyclist and even if it is legal
- Driving too fast
- Blocking another vehicle inside an enclosed area such as a parking lot
How to Defuse a Road Rage Situation
Once a road rage situation begins, you might not have a chance to defuse it, depending on who you are dealing with. Nevertheless, observe the following tips to avoid escalation of the dispute:
- Keep a cool head no matter what happens, and watch what is going on around you. This is the most important principle you must observe.
- Do not retaliate.
- Avoid eye contact.
- Lock your doors and roll up your windows.
- Go to the nearest police station or call the police if you feel threatened. It is OK if you left the scene of the accident, so long as you were in clear and immediate danger (if you were shot at, for example).
- Do your best to leave enough room to pull out behind cars ahead of you.
California Road Rage Laws
California regulates road rage in three ways -- civil, administrative and criminal.
- Civil: Someone who loses their temper in traffic could end up on the losing end of a lawsuit if an accident or incident is found to be their fault through negligence, recklessness of intentional misconduct. Punitive damages might even be assessed. Causing an accident by breaking a traffic law can put a defendant into a situation where they have the burden of proving that they were not negligent in order to avoid liability.
- Administrative: Violating a traffic law or causing an accident could result in a fine, or revocation of the offender’s driver’s license, or both.
- Criminal: A perpetrator can be criminally charged for a road rage incident. Possible charges include assault with a deadly weapon (in a road rage incident a car can be considered a deadly weapon), and even murder if a death results. Many road rage perpetrators are caught on video during the act – and videos are a form of evidence that is hard to refute.
Filing a Road Rage Claim
Road rage accidents can be problematic from a claims perspective. In a typical car accident case, the injured party’s personal injury lawyer negotiates with the defendant’s auto liability insurer for an out-of-court settlement, and the dispute proceeds to court only if negotiations break down.
The problem with a road rage accident is that many auto liability insurance policies do not cover such “accidents”. Of course, this might not matter in certain situations -- if the driver is wealthy enough to pay damages themself, for example, or if they were on-duty at the time of the accident (in which case you might be able to collect from their employer). A skilled car accident attorney can help you seek a defendant who is able to pay a judgment against them.
In any case, you could be eligible for the following types of compensation for your injuries:
- Medical expenses (including estimated future medical expenses)
- Past, present and future lost earnings
- Out-of-pocket expenses arising from the accident
- Intangible damages such as pain and suffering
- Punitive damages (if applicable)
You might also receive compensation for the property damage to your vehicle.
It is important that you contact a Los Angeles road accident attorney as soon as possible after the incident so that you can start pursuing your claim.
You may also be interested in reading about recovering damages from a hit and run driver by clicking here.
We’re on Your Side
The sooner you begin pursuing your claim, the better your chances will be for full compensation. You don’t need to worry whether you can afford the services of our top team of car accident attorneys -- the award-winning personal injury lawyers at The Dominguez Firm work on “no recovery, no fee” terms -- you will owe us nothing unless you win.
We stand ready to meet you where you live or in the hospital, at a moment’s notice. If you or your loved one has been victimized by a road rage crash or incident, phone us anytime 24/7 at 800-818-1818.