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What Happens When Road Rage Causes an Accident?

Angry male driver.

The phrase “road rage” is recognized and used all over the country these days, but you may recall that the Los Angeles area has the dubious distinction of being the birthplace of the term after driver shootings on the 405, 110, and 10 freeways in the late 1980’s prompted newscasters to start calling these “road rage” incidents. Certainly, someone shooting a firearm in traffic does qualify as road rage, and unfortunately still happens, but nowadays we use road rage to refer to a wider scope of aggressive driving activities, including:

  • Yelling or giving insulting gestures to other drivers
  • Excessive tailgating
  • Stopping a car in the road and approaching the other driver
  • Intentionally ramming another car
  • Cutting off a driver in order to intimidate them
  • Following another driver to their destination
  • Throwing an object at another car

In many cases, such acts of road rage can cause an accident. If you have been the victim of road rage, then you should speak with an attorney about your potential options. These options can include one or more of the following claims:

Negligence and Road Rage

In California and many other states, most car accidents claims are based on the legal concept of negligence. In a negligence claim, an injured victim – whether another driver, passenger, pedestrian, bicyclist, and so on – is claiming that a driver failed to take a reasonable amount of care and that the victim was foreseeably injured as a result. If another driver committed an act of road rage such as excessive tailgating to intimidate you and you were injured as a result, then there would be a clear case of negligence as you were foreseeably injured due to that driver’s failure to exercise reasonable care. In a negligence claim, you can recover medical costs, lost income, and pain and suffering due to your injuries over your lifetime.

Assault and Battery Connected to Road Rage

If you are thinking that assault and battery sound like criminal charges, then you are correct. However, they also act as civil claims and could potentially apply to a road rage incident. If a driver intentionally places you in reasonable apprehension of physical injury such as through targeting you with his car but swerving at the last moment, he could be liable for the intentional tort of assault. If the same driver actually does intentionally hit you or your car with his car, he could liable for battery. You may be eligible for additional damages under either of these claims.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress and Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

When a driver acts in an extreme and outrageous manner while driving (in other words, conduct that should not be tolerated in a civilized society) and you suffer severe emotional distress as a result, you can sue that driver for intentional infliction of emotional distress, which can involve substantial money damages. If the driver does not act intentionally, but nevertheless drives recklessly or negligently due to road rage and you suffer emotional distress from being very near to the scene of a dangerous accident (in the “zone of danger”) caused by his driving, you may have a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress.

This is just a brief overview of some of the claims that you can file as the injured party . You may be able to bring multiple claims as well as other claims not listed above. Speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your particular road rage incident.

Questions About What To Do After Road Rage Causes an Accient? Contact Our Injury Attorneys Today

If you have been injured or suffered severe emotional distress in a road rage incident in Pasadena, Los Angeles, or elsewhere in Southern California, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Andrew Ritholz will work to get you the justice you deserve. We have over 30 years experience handling personal injury and vehicle accident cases. Our attorneys know how to prove negligence in order to win the maximum amount of damages you are owed. For a FREE consultation with a Southern California car accident lawyer, contact us by completing the form at the right. You can also call us at (877) 261-9322 today.

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