Brooklyn Road Rage—Boiling Tempers Endanger Everyone

In response to a survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, roughly 90 percent of people stated that aggressive drivers are a safety threat. Road rage is a particularly serious example of such aggressive driving. Road rage does not refer to run-of-the-mill speeding. It’s an extreme form of aggressive driving that may be defined as “any unsafe driving maneuver performed deliberately and with ill intention or disregard for safety.

Road rage isn’t unfamiliar to Brooklyn. Brooklynites have seen how dangerous road rage can be. Whether driving recklessly or even using weapons, some drivers take their frustrations in the busy traffic of Brooklyn to an extreme. Brooklyn drivers should be wary to look out for road rage, and know-how to recover compensation in the unfortunate event they are a victim of road rage.

Road Rage and Aggressive Driving Are Not the Same

Road rage is a particularly serious form of aggressive driving. Road rage incidents may include:

  • Cursing and yelling at other drivers or pedestrians
  • Obscene or rude gestures
  • Sideswiping another vehicle
  • Ramming other vehicles
  • Throwing objects
  • Forcing a car off the road
  • Threatening with a gun or other dangerous weapon

People may use the terms road rage and aggressive driving interchangeably, though they are different. Aggressive driving is triggered by anger or frustration, but the definition indicates these actions are less extreme than road rage.

Aggressive driving may include:

  • Weaving in and out of traffic
  • Changing lanes abruptly to show frustration
  • Running stop signs or red lights due to anger or impatience
  • Tailgating
  • Cutting in front of another vehicle and slowing down abruptly
  • Blocking cars attempting to pass or change lanes
  • Flashing headlights or slowing down abruptly to communicate anger

While road rage is more extreme than aggressive driving, it is not uncommon. Aggressive driving may turn into road rage, triggered by severe anger or other psychological problems or external stresses, such as economic difficulty. And people who have been in accidents have been found by the AAA Foundation to be more likely to drive aggressively.

What Should I Do if I’m a Target of Brooklyn Road Rage?

There may be no way to avoid an accident caused by another driver’s road rage. While you can stay calm and operate your vehicle as safely as possible, your own actions will often not be enough to prevent an unhinged road rager from causing some damage. Make your immediate safety your priority. Once you have done so, you can further help secure the safety of yourself and others and to preserve critical evidence if you later bring a claim.

Identify the Road Rager

If you can do so safely, get significant identifying information about the car and the road rager. If you can, you or a passenger should get the license plate number, the make, model, and color of the car, and any identifying details about the driver. This can be especially important in the case of road rage, where a hit-and-run scenario is not unlikely, in which case it may be hard to track the road rager down to hold them accountable.

Call Law Enforcement

As you as possible, call 911 to report the incident. Police will need the identifying details and the information about what happened to try to apprehend the perpetrator. If the road rage caused a vehicle collision, the police will arrive at the scene to file an accident report. Be sure to obtain a copy of the police report. It may serve as valuable evidence in your effort to hold the road rager accountable and recover compensation for your injuries from the incident.

Talk to Eyewitnesses

Talk to any eyewitnesses, if you can. They may have seen the incident from a different angle, and may have identifying or other information you do not that could help to apprehend the perpetrator or provide corroborating evidence to your own account. Get their contact information, such as e-mail, for any follow-up.

If talking to eyewitnesses involves anything that might incite the road rager to engage in further violence, don’t do it. Leave it to the police to handle.

Take Pictures

Pictures from a smartphone or other camera can serve as exact evidence of the incident. If you or a passenger can take pictures during the road rage incident that can capture the license plate, car, and incident without in any way endangering yourself, do so, as it can be very helpful to police and other investigators to get a full picture of what happened.

Obtain Medical Treatment

Some road rage incidents cause severe physical injury, but others may primarily have psychological impacts on victims. In any case, whether you feel immediate impacts or not, seek immediate medical treatment. Even if you don’t feel injured, go to an emergency room or see a doctor as soon as possible. Accidents can cause injuries with latent symptoms. Some such injuries, like concussions or broken ribs, can result in long-term impacts or even be fatal if left untreated.

When you see a medical provider, explain what happened. They will examine and diagnose you. Keep all records of tests, diagnoses, and examinations. These records may be of legal importance in the event you file a claim.

To demand compensation, you need records of your injuries and the associated expenses. Insurance companies do not like to pay out claims—they are in the business of making a profit, not of paying for medical treatment. They will require evidence of all expenses you are claiming and a clear connection to your accident injuries.

Insurance companies will typically try to deny or minimize claims. Some of their common strategies include claiming that claimants are not as severely injured as they represent, or that they did not receive the injuries in the accident or as a result of their insured’s actions. They will selectively use evidence to support these theories. For instance, if you don’t seek immediate medical treatment following an accident, they’ll question why—to prove that you weren’t as injured as you claim, or that you are to blame for the extent of your injuries for failing to seek treatment.

They may try the same if you don’t follow treatment recommendations. Insurance companies may twist a lack of adherence to treatment plans as evidence that you are not as injured as you claim. Because of this, it is important to seek immediate medical treatment and follow your medical provider’s treatment plan. It’s also a good idea to keep your own records of your injuries soon after the accident, such as a journal of your pain and impacts or pictures of any visible injuries. These may provide additional evidence of the nature and extent of your injuries.

Compensation for Brooklyn Road Rage Injuries

Because Brooklyn road rage incidents often fall under the vehicle accident category, making a claim that can cover expenses for the full extent of your injuries may be complicated.

New York law follows a no-fault system for vehicle accidents. That means that all parties involved in a vehicle accident must turn first to their own insurance coverage to pay for medical bills incurred for accident-related injuries. The state mandates that all registered drivers carry personal injury protection (PIP) for this purpose. PIP also pays up to a certain amount for lost wages if the accident or injuries caused you to miss work and wages you would otherwise have earned.

While the no-fault system intends to cover medical expenses and lost wages, it can unduly limit severely injured victims seeking compensation for expenses and impacts not covered by PIP. PIP coverage often does not fully cover medical bills or lost wages, and doesn’t account for other impacts, such as pain and suffering.

That said, Brooklyn road rage victims still may file a claim to cover expenses and impacts PIP does not cover if they suffer serious injury.

New York law defines serious injury as:

  • Broken bone(s)
  • Significant disfigurements, such as scarring or burning
  • Permanent limitation of the use of a body organ or member
  • Significant limitation of the use of a body function or system
  • Substantially full disability for 90 days

An insurance claim to the road rager’s insurance or a claim in court for serious injury can help victims more fully recover more full compensation for medical expenses and lost wages. Seeking compensation outside of no-fault can allow victims to seek compensation for pain and suffering—physical, mental, or emotional. Compensation for pain and suffering can constitute a significant part of the compensation for a serious injury, so pursue it if circumstances warrant it.

How Do I Receive Compensation If I’m Seriously Injured in a Brooklyn Road Rage Incident?

If you meet the legal criteria for serious injury and can seek compensation beyond the no-fault system, you can pursue damage compensation for a Brooklyn road rage by filing a claim with the road rager’s insurance provider. If that effort is unsuccessful, you can or can pursue compensation via a car accident lawsuit in civil court.

What Criminal Laws Do Road Ragers Violate? Do Criminal Charges Prevent Victims From Recovering Compensation?

Brooklyn road rage incidents can violate criminal laws. Some road rage incidents merely violate traffic laws, such as running red lights. Driving aggressively often violates laws. But road ragers often commit much more serious legal violations, including felonies such as murder, attempted murder, battery, and assault.

The State is responsible for prosecuting crimes in criminal court. Such prosecution is separate from your effort to pursue compensation for injuries in civil court. The two court systems are quite different. The outcome in one court does not necessarily have an impact on the outcome in the other, especially the failure to convict in criminal court, as the standards for a criminal conviction are higher than the standards for proving civil liability. On the other hand, a criminal conviction may constitute evidence of liability in your car accident case.

If tried and convicted, the driver can be sentenced to prison, fined, and lose their driver’s license. In the case of a lawsuit, the remedy is an award of damages to the plaintiff.

My Loved One Died in a Brooklyn Road Rage Incident. Do I Have Any Recourse?

By their nature, road rage incidents may result in death. While no lawsuit can bring a loved one back or fully compensate for the loss, the family of someone killed in a road rage accident may recover compensation to cover expenses and impacts they suffer as a result of the incident. In Brooklyn, the family of a person killed in a road rage incident may pursue compensation in what is commonly referred to as a wrongful death action. After all, family members of the deceased often face heavy emotional and financial impacts.

A wrongful death lawsuit is similar to a car accident suit, in that comes about when someone has been harmed by another who caused injury by violating reasonable standards of safety and care, as a road rage perpetrator does. In Brooklyn, the representative of the deceased person’s estate brings a wrongful death suit.

Wrongful death lawsuits can seek compensation for many impacts on behalf of the deceased’s estate, but often include:

  • Burial and funeral expenses
  • Medical expenses incurred during care of the deceased from the time of the incident until death
  • Wages and benefits the deceased would otherwise have earned between the final injury and death
  • The value of support and services family members would otherwise have received from the deceased
  • The emotional distress of the deceased’s family

Can a Lawyer Help Me in a Brooklyn Road Rage Incident?

Andrew Finkelstein Jacoby & Meyers LLP

Car Accident Lawyer, Andrew Finkelstein

It’s generally a good idea to consult a lawyer if you suffer from a road rage incident in Brooklyn. Applicable laws are complex, and lawyers are trained to provide the help needed to navigate the system and provide other valuable services.

Lawyers can investigate road rage incidents, working with investigators who are experienced in such accidents, searching for surveillance footage in the area of the incident, and tracking down and interviewing eyewitnesses. An experienced Brooklyn car accident attorney can negotiate with the insurance company to push it toward a fair settlement, or represent you in court if the insurance company refuses.

If you are on the fence about hiring an attorney, make a call. Most attorneys offer free consultations so you can make the right decision for your case.Car