Road rage is something we have all either seen or experienced before. Classic road rage behaviors include verbal insults, shouting, obscene gestures, and excessive use of the horn. Some aggressive drivers even turn to extremely dangerous behaviors that could possibly result in great bodily injury, loss of a human life, license suspension, and even jail time. Some states specifically outlaw road rage, while others (like New York) outlaw aggressive or reckless driving. But can you sue another driver for road rage if they cause you (or a loved one) catastrophic injury or death? The answer is yes. Our legal team explains this and more below.
If you or a loved one has suffered major injuries, death, or financial losses due to someone else’s road rage, you may have grounds to file a civil lawsuit. Albany personal injury lawyers at Bailey, Johnson & Peck have been successfully handling all sorts of car accident cases for decades. We can help you obtain the justice and financial compensation you deserve. Call 518-456-0082 to schedule a free consultation with our team today.
What is Road Rage?
Road rage occurs when an angry driver resorts to aggressive, violent, or dangerous behaviors on the roads. Many state laws describe angry drivers in road rage incidents as having “willful or wanton disregard for another’s safety or property.” Classic examples of road rage behaviors may include:
- Shouting and cursing at other drivers
- Excessively honking the horn
- Flipping off other drivers or engaging in other rude gestures
- Aggressive driving behaviors such as following too closely, swerving, brake checking, intentionally cutting off another driver, chasing/running another car off the road, intentionally ramming into other cars, speeding, rapidly switching lanes, etc.
- Stopping on the side of the road just to verbally insult, threaten, or assault another driver with or without a deadly weapon
Road Rage vs. Aggressive Driving
Road rage and aggressive driving are similar but different terms in the eyes of most state laws. Aggressive driving is characterized by dangerous driving behaviors that can potentially endanger other people on the roads. Meanwhile, road rage is willful and wanton disregard for the safety of other drivers and their property.
Anger is the obvious emotion behind road rage, while most aggressive drivers are merely impatient or irritated. Both types of driving behaviors are dangerous, but road rage is far more dangerous because in many cases, the angry driver is deliberately trying to hurt someone else.
Aggressive behaviors on the roads are often the precursor to full blown road rage. Common aggressive driving behaviors may include abrupt and unsafe lane changes, running red lights, and speeding.
Road Rage Risk Factors
Some types of drivers are more prone to road rage than others. Additionally, certain weather and road conditions, as well as the time of day or year, can lead to an increased risk of road rage. Below, we list the most common road rage risk factors:
- Being male
- Being a young driver (under 30 years old)
- Having mismanaged or displaced anger in daily life
- Enduring high stress every day
- Being a generally impatient person
- Driving while intoxicated with drugs or alcohol
- Sitting in heavy traffic
- Driving home during heavy after-work traffic
- Texting and driving or driving distracted in some other way
- Being late for work or some other event
- Driving during the holidays
Can Road Rage Increase the Chances of a Car Accident Occurring?
Yes, road rage incidents can definitely lead to more car accidents due to the number of traffic safety violations that drivers tend to engage in. One common aggressive driving behavior in road rage cases is speeding, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) claims that more than 11,200 Americans died due to speeding in 2020 alone.
Not only can road rage increase the risk of injuries and deaths from car accidents, but it can increase the risk of injuries and deaths from gun violence as well. According to a recent news article, 728 road rage incidents involved guns in 2021. Of these 728 incidents, 390 resulted in injury and 132 resulted in death.
Is Road Rage Illegal in New York?
There is no specific “road rage” law in New York, but there is a law referencing reckless driving. Reckless driving is a criminal offense in New York.
New York law states that reckless driving is: “driving or using any motor vehicle, motorcycle or any other vehicle propelled by any power other than muscular power or any appliance or accessory thereof in a manner which unreasonably interferes with the free and proper use of the public highway, or unreasonably endangers users of the public highway.”
Consequences of Aggressive Driving in New York
Reckless driving can result in criminal charges and the following penalties:
- First Offense: Up to 30 days of jail time and up to $300 in fines.
- Second Offense: Up to 90 days of jail time and up to $525 in fines.
- Third Offense: Up to 180 days of jail time and up to $1,125 in fines.
Depending on the severity of the crime and the person’s driving record, it is possible to get the driver’s license revoked as well.
Penalties and charges for this crime will increase if the aggressive driver causes injuries or deaths from their dangerous behavior.
Can You Sue for Road Rage?
Yes, you can sue for a road rage incident if you (or a loved one) suffered injuries or death as a result. Because aggressive driving behaviors are outlawed in New York, angry drivers can face both civil and criminal legal proceedings. Criminal cases are designed to punish the other driver for their dangerous behavior, while civil cases are designed to compensate the victim for the damages they suffered from the dangerous behavior.
If you want to file a civil lawsuit for injury or death caused by an angry driver, you will need to prove the four elements of negligence.
- Duty of Care: All drivers owe each other a duty of care to drive sober, carefully, and responsibly.
- Breached Duty of Care: The other driver breached this duty of care by engaging in aggressive driving behaviors.
- Causation: The driver’s road rage directly caused a car accident, injuries, and/or death.
- Damages: The victim suffered a variety of damages from the road rage-related car accident for which they should be fairly compensated.
An Albany car accident lawyer at Bailey, Johnson & Peck can help you get started on your civil lawsuit against an aggressive driver. Additionally, we can help you prove that negligence occurred in your car accident.
Damages for Car Accidents
Albany car accident lawyers at Bailey, Johnson & Peck can help you recover financial compensation for the following types of damages:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future physical therapy bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity if your injuries prevent you from completing your normal job duties
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental health counseling bills
- Permanent disability, scarring, and/or disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
- Funeral and burial expenses if the road rage incident led to wrongful death
- Punitive damages (in some cases)
How to Handle Road Rage
Because of how much time we spend in our cars on an annual basis, it’s not uncommon to run into an angry driver at least once – literally. If you experience road rage from another driver, the best thing you can do is try not to engage. Avoid eye contact with the angry driver, don’t honk your horn, and don’t return verbal insults or obscene gestures. Engaging with the angry driver in any way may be enough to send them into threats and violence.
Additionally, being a careful and courteous driver on the roads is always a good idea. Don’t abruptly change lanes, run red lights or stop signs, cut people off, or follow someone too closely.
Lastly, if you feel yourself getting angry or impatient behind the wheel, take a deep breath. Getting frustrated by another driver or heavy traffic is not worth hurting yourself or others.
Call an Albany Car Accident Lawyer at Bailey, Johnson & Peck Today
If you or a loved one suffered major injury or death due to another driver’s anger, you may have grounds to file a civil lawsuit in the state of New York. Albany personal injury lawyers at Bailey, Johnson & Peck have decades of combined experience in helping car accident victims obtain fair compensation and justice for their suffering. We can do the same for you too. Call 518-456-0082 to schedule a free consultation with our legal team today.