What to Do When an Angry Driver Injures You
According to the Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council, you can get just about anywhere in and around Syracuse in 20 minutes. In fact, once you get into Onondaga County, you will find that almost 94 percent of the roads are uncongested, which means that traffic flow is reliable during rush hours compared to other times of the day. Yet, even though this is a major blessing for motorists in the city, it does not mean that the area is free and clear of all congestion headaches.
Unfortunately, traffic still happens in Syracuse, especially around the Adams Street exit off Interstate 81 or Lyndon Corners, where there is often a bottleneck of motorists. Consequently, this gridlock can create stressful situations for an area not used to these bumper-to-bumper backups and result in tempers flaring.
Even though almost every driver has been frustrated behind the wheel at one point or another, what happens when these angry feelings turn into aggressive driving tactics that lead to horrific car accidents and devastating repercussions? In this blog post, we will dive deeper into this concept of road rage, what it means, the actions you should take after a road rage accident, and the legal remedies you may have.
What Is Road Rage?
Road rage is an angry or aggressive behavior exhibited by drivers. These behaviors often include verbal insults, physical threats, or dangerous driving methods that target another driver or a non-driver, such as a bicyclist or a pedestrian, to release frustration or intimidate the other individual.
Worse yet, this behavior is relatively common. Studies indicate that nearly 80 percent of all drives have expressed road rage, anger, or aggression behind the wheel at least once every year. Additionally, almost eight million United States motorists engaged in extreme examples of road rage, including getting out of the car to confront another motorist or purposefully ramming into another motor vehicle.
Although aggressive driving is not road rage, it can quickly become road rage. Generally, aggressive driving involves violating a traffic safety law, while road rage consists of breaking a criminal law.
Road Rage Statistics—The Shocking Truth
Road rage seems to be quite prevalent in the United States, posing serious dangers to everyone on the road.
Take, for example, these statistics:
- Road rage causes, on average, 30 murders in the United States every year.
- Approximately 95 million US motorists have yelled at another traffic participant, while 91 million drivers have honked excessively to express their anger.
- A third of all driving crashes can be linked to road rage, including conduct that involves speeding, tailgating, and changing lanes without signaling.
- Almost 53 percent of motorists think speeding is normal.
- On average, 50 percent of motorists will get aggressive with road ragers.
- Aggressive motorists cause 66 percent of all traffic fatalities.
- Reports indicate that Detroit, Phoenix, Atlanta, Miami, Cincinnati, San Diego, Houston, and New York are areas where road rage is the most common.
Unfortunately, road rage represents a volatile behavior that poses a threat to not only others on the road, but also to the motorist who is acting aggressively. As a result, it causes thousands of deaths across the country each year, or horrific injuries that can forever change a person’s life.
Common Factors That Contribute to Syracuse Road Rage
Although road rage can occur for a variety of reasons, some of the more common factors that often contribute to road rage incidents or aggressive driving behavior include:
- Traffic or other delays: Sitting at stoplights, heavy traffic, or looking for a parking spot can all increase a motorist’s anger level and the occurrence of road rage.
- Running behind schedule: Running late for an appointment or a meeting can cause motorists to become impatient behind the wheel and try risky behavior.
- Disregard for others: Some drivers do not believe the rules apply to them and will take part in dangerous driving.
- Anonymity: If a motorist feels that they will not see another driver again, they may be more comfortable engaging in risky behavior like cutting off others, honking excessively, making inappropriate and rude gestures, or tailgating.
- Habitual behavior: For some motorists, aggressive reckless driving, such as speeding excessively, is considered normal behavior.
Common Forms of Syracuse Road Rage
In Syracuse, road rage comes in many different forms. Some of the more common actions you will often see exhibited include:
- Tailgating behind other vehicles
- Yelling at other drivers
- Honking excessively
- Angry and rude gestures
- Blocking another motor vehicle that is trying to change lanes
- Getting out of the car to yell at another motorist
- Ramming into another car out of anger
- Cutting off another motor vehicle
Proving Road Rage After a Syracuse Accident
If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident because of road rage, the aggressive motorist that caused the crash may be liable for your injuries. However, before you can recover compensation for the harm sustained, it needs to be shown that the driver was more than just angry.
That is why, following your accident, it’s helpful to work with an experienced car accident lawyer who can go over your case, investigate the incident, and obtain the evidence needed to show fault and damages.
Many times, to prove road rage, the lawyer needs to show that the at-fault motorist acted negligently.
This means that the lawyer must establish:
- The liable motorist owed the victim a legal duty of care
- The liable motorist breach this duty
- This breach caused the victim’s injuries
- The victim suffered significant losses and damages because of this breach
Frequently, in these road rage accidents, the attorney may need to rely on eyewitness testimony, videos, and police reports to show that the other driver was behaving aggressively, and this aggressive behavior caused the resulting harm and injuries.
Compensation Available After a Syracuse Road Rage Accident
If you were injured in a Syracuse road rage incident because of another person’s wrongful actions, you may be entitled to specific compensation. In New York, this compensation includes:
Economic damages: These damages involve measurable losses that result from the accident, such as:
- Medical bills including your past, present, and future medical expenses (doctor visits, surgeries, emergency room visits, hospital stay, doctor appointments, and prescription medications)
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Personal property losses
- At-home nursing care
- Replacement services
- Other out-of-pocket expenses
Non-economic Damages: These damages involve more subjective losses that are not easily quantified, including:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
- Bodily disfigurement
- Loss of reputation
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- The physical experience of pain
Punitive damages: Unlike compensatory damages (economic and non-economic damages), which are designed to compensate the victim for their losses, punitive damages punish the defendant for their wrongdoing and deter them (and others) from committing this act again.
In New York, for a victim to recover punitive damages, the attorney needs to prove that the defendant acted with a complete disregard for the victim’s safety and health. Generally, simple carelessness is not enough to warrant these punitive damages. Rather, the lawyer needs to prove with clear and convincing evidence that the actions were willful and wanton. As a result, courts usually only award punitive damages in exceptional cases.
Actions to Take After a Syracuse Road Rage Accident
Following a road rage accident, the scene is often chaotic, stressful, and tense. However, you should realize that the actions you take after this incident not only protect your health and safety, but your legal rights as well. That is why, if you have been involved in a Syracuse road rage incident, you should consider:
Contact 911 Immediately
After a road rage accident, you need to contact 911. This is the fastest way to report the accident and notify emergency medical services that you need medical help at the scene.
Once the police arrive, they can investigate the accident and write down their findings in their police report. If you decide to pursue legal action, this report provides you with evidence regarding what happened and who was at fault.
See a Doctor as Soon as Possible
Even if you believe your injuries are relatively minor following the accident, you should still see a doctor. Quite often, serious injuries such as head and brain trauma can take days to even weeks to manifest, yet the longer you wait to seek medical help, the more serious the injury can become.
Besides, getting this medical treatment is helpful for your injury case. Insurance companies will try anything to deny your claim or reduce the amount of money you receive by arguing that your injury is not that serious because of a subsequent event.
Fortunately, when you see your doctor after your crash, they can document your injuries in their medical report and provide a direct link between the harm you suffered and the accident.
If it is safe to do so, and you do not require any immediate medical attention, try to gather as much evidence from the scene as you can. Include pictures and videos of the vehicles involved, your visible injuries, skid marks on the road, traffic signs near the accident scene, the weather conditions at the time of the accident, and any other evidence that can help show what happened.
If there were people at the scene who saw what happened, make sure you get their contact details. Witness statements can often provide further insight into what happened and who was at fault. If these individuals do not want to offer you their details, do not force them. Once you retain an experienced car accident attorney, your lawyer can handle getting this information for you.
Be Careful What You Say
As you talk to the other people at the scene, you need to watch what you say. Avoid making any definitive statement regarding fault, accidentally taking the blame for anything that happened, or apologizing for any part of the accident. These types of comments can end up hurting your case and the amount of money you can collect.
An Experienced Syracuse Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
If you were in a car accident, you already have enough on your plate. You should not have to worry about handling a car accident claim on your own. Fortunately, when you hire an experienced Syracuse car accident lawyer, you will not have to.
These car accident attorneys can:
- Evaluate your potential claims, provide you the legal advice you require, and explain your legal options.
- Discuss your questions and concerns and offer you the support you need during this challenging time.
- Investigate your case and obtain the evidence necessary to build the strongest possible claim.
- Hold all the liable parties accountable for the harm you sustained.
- Bring in the experts such as accident reconstructionists, economists, engineers, and doctors to substantiate your claims.
- Ensure that all legal motions and documents are filed before time expires.
- Handle the negotiations and discussions with the insurance company and go after the fair compensation you deserve.
- Take your case to trial, if required, and work relentlessly to bring your case to a successful resolution.
If you or a loved one has been harmed in a Syracuse road rage accident, do not wait any longer to seek legal help.
Mr. Finkelstein is the Managing Partner of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP. He has become a noted consumer activist through his representation of injured individuals against corporate wrongdoers and irresponsible parties.
An accomplished litigator, Mr. Finkelstein has represented Plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has successfully handled dozens of multi-million dollar cases.