What Is Road Rage, and How Can Victims Seek Compensation?

If you have been the victim of a car or truck accident caused by road rage, our law firm has put together this legal resource for you. The Millar Law Firm represents victims of road rage and aggressive driving in the Atlanta area and across Georgia.

Key Points:

  • A Georgia driver breaks the law for aggressive driving when he or she operates any type of vehicle with the intent or purpose to annoy, harass, molest, intimidate, injure, or obstruct another driver.
  • Drivers who are guilty of breaking Georgia’s aggressive driving law can be held liable for damages.
  • In Georgia, using a motor vehicle to threaten or intimidate another driver is punishable by a heavy fine ($5,000) and/or up to 12 months in jail.
  • Road rage that causes an accident or injury can lead to punitive damages being recovered by you or personal injury lawyer.

What It Is Considered Road Rage?

Road rage refers to the aggressive or violent tendencies displayed by a driver, typically directed at other road users. Manifestations of such behavior range from offensive gestures and verbal taunts to outright physical threats. In some cases, drivers may even resort to dangerous vehicle maneuvers in a bid to intimidate or harm another motorist or pedestrian.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines “road rage” as “angry and violent behaviors at the extreme of the aggressive driving continuum.”

It appears to stem from mounting frustration directed at fellow road users. Regardless of the cause, each year witnesses an increasing prevalence of the perilous conduct commonly referred to as road rage in our Atlanta metro.

Can an Individual’s Road Rage be a Direct Cause of a Collision?

Road rage can directly precipitate a collision. Aggressive behaviors, whether intentional or stemming from impaired judgment due to anger, elevate the risk of accidents. Examples include intentional ramming, reckless lane changes, tailgating, and excessive speeding. Such actions are not only dangerous in themselves but can compromise a driver’s ability to react appropriately to other road events.

Distraction is another major concern. An enraged driver might focus more on expressing their anger than on the road, leading to decreased reaction times and potential oversights. This, combined with the potential for escalating confrontations with other drivers, multiplies the hazards. Often, situations can spiral with multiple vehicles engaging in aggressive behaviors, further increasing the likelihood of an accident.

Lastly, severe road rage incidents might escalate into physical altercations, posing risks beyond mere vehicular collisions. If vehicles are improperly parked or if the altercation distracts other drivers, further accidents can occur. It’s crucial to understand the dangers of road rage and advocate for driver education and self-awareness to ensure road safety.

Georgia’s Road Rage or Aggressive Driving Laws

Aggressive Driving (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-397):

Georgia’s law specifically defines and penalizes aggressive driving. According to this statute, a person commits the offense of aggressive driving when they operate any motor vehicle with the intent to annoy, harass, molest, intimidate, injure, or obstruct another person.

Penalties For Breaking This Law: In Georgia, aggressive driving is a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature, potentially resulting in fines, up to 12 months in jail, and 6 points added to the driver’s license. Convictions can also lead to higher insurance premiums. For drivers under 21, a single aggressive driving conviction leads to license suspension. Always consult with a local attorney for specific consequences and guidance.

Following Too Closely (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-49):

Tailgating or following another vehicle too closely is prohibited. This is a common behavior seen in road rage incidents.

Penalties For Breaking This Law: “Following Too Closely” under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-49 is classified as a misdemeanor, leading to potential fines and the addition of 3 points to the driver’s license. This violation can also result in increased auto insurance premiums. For specifics or if faced with a violation, it’s advisable to consult with an attorney.

Improper Lane Change or Usage (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-48):

Drivers must maintain their lane and can only move from it when it is safe to do so. Weaving in and out of traffic can be seen as aggressive driving and might fall under this statute.

Penalties for Breaking This Law: Individuals convicted of this violation may incur fines, with the precise amount contingent on the specific circumstances and jurisdiction. Additionally, such a conviction can lead to higher insurance premiums.

Reckless Driving (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-390):

Any person who drives any vehicle in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property commits the offense of reckless driving. This statute can cover a broad range of behaviors often associated with road rage.

Penalties for Breaking This Law: Reckless driving is a misdemeanor that can result in fines up to $1,000, imprisonment not exceeding 12 months, and the addition of 4 points to the driver’s license. Such a conviction can also lead to increased auto insurance premiums and potential employment implications, especially for roles that involve driving.

Duty to Report Accidents (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-273):

If a road rage incident results in an accident, there are requirements about reporting the accident, especially if there are injuries or significant property damage. Angry drivers are known to sometimes leave the accident scene without reporting the incident.

Penalties for Breaking This Law: failing to report certain accidents is classified as a misdemeanor. Convictions can lead to fines, potential jail time, and points added to the driver’s license, which might affect insurance rates. Additionally, not reporting an accident can increase auto insurance premiums and possibly expose the individual to civil liabilities related to the incident.

Does Road Rage Automatically Mean a Driver is At-Fault?

Road rage doesn’t automatically deem a driver at fault for an accident. It’s the poor driving decisions, potentially influenced by road rage, that determine fault. A driver can be visibly angry yet still make safe driving choices. Sometimes, a driver’s road rage might even be triggered by another driver’s dangerous actions. Ultimately, the driver making the unsafe decisions that resulted in the accident will be considered at fault.

Can Road Rage Reduce the Settlement Value for a Driver Not At-Fault?

In Georgia, a comparative fault state, road rage can impact the value of a claim, even for a driver not deemed at-fault. If a driver displayed anger or rage during the accident, the defense might argue that a calmer demeanor could have led to a better reaction, potentially preventing or lessening the accident’s impact. While a non-at-fault driver may still receive compensation, especially if injured and the other driver is insured, the settlement amount could be reduced if their road rage is conclusively proven.

Can Clear Road Rage in the At-Fault Driver Lead to Higher Compensation for Injured Victims?

Yes, clear evidence of road rage in the at-fault driver can potentially lead to higher compensation for injured victims. When road rage is demonstrably present, it can be seen as an aggravating factor in the incident, indicating reckless or intentional misconduct rather than a mere accident. This distinction can play a significant role in personal injury claims, as victims may seek not only compensatory damages for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering but also punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar behavior in the future. However, the specifics of compensation can vary based on jurisdiction, the details of the case, and the quality of evidence provided. It’s always advisable for victims to consult with a personal injury attorney to understand their rights and potential compensation fully.

How Do You Prove Road Rage in a Car Accident Claim?

Proving road rage in a car accident claim often requires a combination of evidence and testimony that collectively paints a clear picture of the aggressive behavior leading up to the incident. Essential evidence might include photographs of vehicle damage, injuries, or skid marks, which can suggest sudden aggressive maneuvers. In some cases, physical evidence, such as objects thrown at a vehicle or signs of a deliberate collision, can be crucial. Testimonies from eyewitnesses who observed the aggressive behavior, threats, or violent actions are invaluable, as they provide a firsthand account of the incident and can help corroborate the victim’s version of events.

Videos or Police Reports Describing Road Rage Are Valuable Evidence

In today’s digital age, video footage has become an increasingly powerful tool in proving road rage incidents. Dashcams, traffic cameras, or even bystander cell phone videos can capture clear evidence of aggressive behavior or actions that preceded the accident. Such footage can be indisputable, showcasing events as they unfolded in real-time. Additionally, police reports are fundamental in these claims. If an officer arrived at the scene and recorded details of aggressive behavior, collected statements, or even made arrests related to the road rage, their report becomes a critical piece of official documentation. It not only provides an objective third-party account of the incident but may also include citations or charges that reinforce the claim of aggressive behavior.

Are Road Rage Accidents Covered by Automobile Insurance?

Typically, yes. Most Georgia car and truck insurance policies do cover accidents caused by road rage and aggressive driving accidents. Our law firm has recovered many high-value settlements and verdicts in road rage, aggressive and drunk driving cases. In many cases your settlement may include punitive damages, due to the dangerous and reckless behavior of the at-fault driver

How Do Insurance Companies Handle Road Rage Claims?

Insurance companies approach road rage claims with caution and thorough investigation, as these claims can be complex and often involve intentional acts rather than mere accidents. When assessing a claim, insurers will review all available evidence, from police reports to witness statements and any available video footage, to determine the events leading up to the incident. If it’s determined that a driver was the aggressor in a road rage incident, their liability coverage might not cover the damages they caused to another party. This is because most auto insurance policies exclude coverage for intentional acts of harm. In such cases, the aggressive driver could be personally liable for any damages or injuries they caused.

The aftermath of a road rage incident can have lasting implications on a driver’s insurance situation. If a driver is deemed at fault, whether they were the aggressor or not, it could lead to an increase in their insurance premiums. Road rage incidents are considered serious infractions by insurance companies, often on par with or even exceeding the severity of DUIs or reckless driving in terms of risk assessment. Furthermore, if a driver has multiple infractions, including road rage incidents, on their record, they might face challenges in securing affordable insurance coverage or, in extreme cases, could even be denied coverage altogether. As with all insurance matters, the specific impact will vary based on the insurer, the details of the incident, and the driver’s overall record.

What Role Do Personal Injury Lawyers Play in Road Rage Cases?

Personal injury lawyers play a pivotal role in road rage cases, navigating the complexities of the legal system on behalf of their clients. When an individual becomes a victim of road rage, the emotional and physical aftermath can be overwhelming. An experienced personal injury attorney helps to streamline the legal process, ensuring that the victim’s rights are protected and that they have the best possible chance of receiving fair compensation for their injuries, property damage, and emotional distress.

Anyone involved in a road rage incident, especially those who suffer injuries or significant property damage, should consider hiring an attorney promptly. This is particularly crucial if the events leading up to or during the incident are contentious or unclear, or if the aggressive driver’s actions might have legal consequences beyond a basic traffic violation. An attorney can gather evidence, liaise with insurance companies, and build a robust case to demonstrate liability.

Hiring a lawyer in road rage cases offers several benefits. Beyond ensuring proper legal representation, a lawyer brings an objective perspective during emotionally charged times. They can advise on the viability of the case, potential compensation amounts, and the best course of action to take. Furthermore, their expertise in negotiations can be invaluable when dealing with insurance adjusters or opposing attorneys, aiming for the most favorable outcomes for their clients. In essence, a personal injury lawyer becomes an advocate, guide, and protector for those entangled in the legal intricacies of road rage incidents.

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