Filing a Claim for an Injury Caused by Road Rage

road rageAccording to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), road rage is when a person drives recklessly to endanger the lives of others or when a person commits assault with a vehicle or other dangerous weapon while in a vehicle, either as a passenger or driver.

Drivers who engage in road rage are likely to cause an accident that could result in serious or fatal injuries. Call a car accident attorney in the Sacramento area to discuss your claim if you or someone you know has been hurt due to road rage. 

What Contributes to Road Rage?

According to the American Psychological Association, environmental and psychological factors both play a part in road rage.

Some environmental contributors to road rage include:

  • Traffic delays – When unexpected congestion occurs while on the road, drivers may become agitated about reaching their destination in time. They may respond irresponsibly by weaving in and out of traffic, cutting others off, or following other cars too closely.
  • Actions of others – When others on the road drive recklessly, some drivers respond with anger and attempt to retaliate.

Psychological factors that contribute to road rage include:

  • Anonymity – Driving on roadways enclosed in your vehicle is seemingly anonymous. This feeling of anonymity gives some drivers the impression that they can act irresponsibly without consequences.
  • Driving behaviors – Both learned and habitual driving behaviors can be inherently aggressive.
  • Poor time management – Failing to manage time properly results in rushed mornings or desperation to get to a destination more quickly, which leads to speeding and other reckless driving behaviors.
  • Disregard for the law and others – Lack of empathy and a disregard for consequences can make a driver more inclined to break driving laws, fail to consider the safety of others, act recklessly, or even use their vehicle as a weapon.

How is Liability Determined?

Most drivers have occasional moments of anger while behind the wheel. It is one thing to feel frustrated because of environmental or emotional factors. It is another, more dangerous situation to become so angry that you use your vehicle to vent those frustrations.

When an accident occurs because of road rage, liability will often fall on the driver who was behaving recklessly due to their emotional state. However, you must establish a connection between road rage and the cause of the crash. For example, all the following may be a result of road rage:

  • Weaving
  • Brake checking
  • Cutting another vehicle off
  • Following another vehicle too closely
  • Running another vehicle off the road using a vehicle
  • Intentionally swerving into other vehicles on the roadway

There are some occasions when a road-raging driver may cause a collision that does not physically impact their vehicle. Liability in these cases is more difficult to establish, especially if the driver did not stop at the scene of the crash.

One California case involving a driver who brake checked another and caused an accident set a legal precedent in the state. The decision in the case stated that the state’s sudden emergency defense could be used in a case where one driver acted in a reasonable manner to avoid an accident and unintentionally caused another crash.

Is Road Rage a Crime?

As defined by the NHTSA, road rage is a form of reckless driving. California’s Vehicle Code Section 23103 says anyone who drives a vehicle upon a highway or off-street parking facility in a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others or property is guilty of reckless driving, which is punishable by law. Any person found guilty of reckless driving could face jail time and fines of up to $1,000.

There are some instances when someone found guilty of road rage could face felony charges if he or she severely injures or kills someone while partaking in aggressive driving in accordance with California’s Penal Code Section 1170.

We Are Prepared to Help. Call Today

Filing a claim for a road rage accident can be challenging and complex, so it is important to have someone on your side who is experienced in handling the process professionally and with your best interests in mind.

Speak to one of our licensed attorneys – we have decades of combined experience helping injury victims recover the compensation they need. Our attorneys have successfully negotiated settlements and returned favorable jury verdicts.

Our firm offers a free, no-obligation consultation. We charge you nothing up front or while we work on your case. You only owe us a percentage of the compensation that we successfully recover for you.

Call today: (916) 777-7777