Boston Road Rage Accidents
Anyone who has driven in Boston knows the many challenges that can make it frustrating. Drivers weaving in and out of traffic, or perhaps drive too slowly. The slog of rush hour traffic. These and other things may cause drivers in Boston to lose patience while behind the wheel. Unfortunately, sometimes a lack of patience turns into losing control and causing more problems with road rage.
If you or a family member were victims of road rage in Boston, you may have the basis for a personal injury lawsuit. Contact an accident injury attorney and find out about your legal rights and options. In the meantime, read below to find out more about road rage—what it is, why it happens, and what victims of Boston road rage can do to pursue compensation.
Understanding Road Rage in Boston
All of us have encountered aggressive drivers. But it is important to realize an aggressive driver is not necessarily engaging in road rage. While on the surface it may seem the behavior of an aggressive driver can seem to reflect rage, it is important to be aware of some important differences.
An aggressive driver poses dangers similar to a driver displaying signs of road rage. Both drivers put others at risk. An aggressive driver is likely to drive too fast for traffic conditions, tailgate, change lanes frequently, and ignore traffic signals. These actions are dangerous to others on the road and can lead to accidents.
A driver who displays signs of road rage may engage in any of those actions as well, but in a way that shows they have lost control of themselves. Those experiencing road rage often vulgar hand gestures or language towards other drivers, or continuously sound their horn or flash their lights at other drivers. If they do not get their way, road ragers may take more aggressive action such as bumping the bumper of a car in front of them with their car or forcing another car off the road.
Road rage also tends to involve more face-to-face confrontations than is the case with mere aggressive driving. A driver experiencing road rage may follow and confront another driver who aggravated them at a gas station, shopping center, or parking lot. These incidents can be especially dangerous, as they can easily escalate to physical violence.
Data Show Road Rage Is Deadly
Keeping track of data about road rage accidents can be difficult, especially given the overlap with incidents of aggressive driving. However, the available data still suggest stunning findings and show that the concern over road rage is well-warranted, especially in a place like Boston, where drivers dealing with crowded narrow streets, pedestrians, highway on-ramps and off-ramps, MBTA trolleys, and other difficulties are more susceptible to road rage.
For instance, one study based on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that aggressive driving played a role in an average of 56 percent of crashes per year. Excessive speeding was the leading aggressive driving behavior among fatal accidents. Other aggressive driving behaviors leading to fatalities included following another vehicle improperly, erratic lane changing, passing where prohibited, and failure to yield the right of way.
If you realize that these are behaviors you can see every day in Boston traffic, it becomes clear why road rage should be a concern. Victims of road rage might not even live to hold the responsible party accountable for their actions, leaving their families uncertain about what options they may have. If you lose a loved one in a Boston road rage accident, a Boston wrongful death lawyer can advise you of your rights and help you determine if you have the basis for a wrongful death lawsuit.
Boston Road Rage Accidents Pose Unique Dangers
All car accidents are dangerous. However, the nature of road rage accidents is such that they pose unique dangers that can cause catastrophic injuries. For instance, a driver who is operating in a deliberately dangerous manner with the intent of causing harm might not make any attempt to slow down before hitting your car, while a merely distracted driver might slam on the brakes before a collision, lessening the force of the impact. In other words, a driver experiencing road rage will often not act in any way to mitigate the potential harms, only in a way that will worsen them.
Road rage can even involve the use of weapons. When you are driving your car, the last thing you might expect is to be wounded by gunfire. In some cases, however, enraged drivers have resorted to gun violence to release their anger. When a gunshot is not fatal, it will require immediate medical attention. Road ragers can be unpredictable, and the range of dangerous actions they may take is broad and disturbing.
Criminal Charges and Boston Road Rage Accident Claims
If you are a victim of a Boston road rage accident, the responsible party is likely to face criminal charges. The decision about whether or not to bring criminal charges is made by a prosecuting attorney.
It is important to know that whether or not the responsible party faces criminal charges, you can pursue compensation for your injuries through a civil case. Criminal and civil cases are two completely separate things.
The state brings a criminal case against an individual for committing crimes to punish them with criminal penalties. An accident victim brings a civil case to claim compensation. The standard of proof is much lower in a civil case than in a criminal case. It is also worth noting that you don’t need to wait until the criminal case resolves before filing a civil lawsuit.
No-Fault Insurance Complicates Road Rage Claims
When you are involved in an accident on a Boston roadway, you generally first file a claim with your own insurance company. This is because Boston has a no-fault insurance law, which requires all drivers to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, and to turn to that insurance first as compensation for their injuries and expenses in an accident. Before you start a claim against another party’s insurer, talk to a Boston car accident injury lawyer who has experience handling car accidents involving road rage so that you know what steps you need to take before filing a claim.
Given Massachusetts’ no-fault insurance law, there are limited circumstances under which you can bring a claim against another individual and their insurance policy. One circumstance is if your out-of-pocket medical costs exceed $2,000. If you have a high deductible policy and have not met that deductible at the time of a road rage accident, this threshold may be easy to fulfill. Tests, in-hospital care, medical devices, or other reasonable medical costs can also be used to meet this level of expense.
You might also file a claim with the defendant’s insurer if you suffer disfigurement, broken bones, or loss of vision or hearing. If any of these conditions apply in your Boston road rage accident case, your claim may also demand compensation for pain and suffering.
In any claim you file, you will likely need to work with an insurance company. This may involve providing a recorded statement, meeting with adjusters, and releasing your medical records. Your insurance company may even request you meet with its physicians to evaluate your injury.
Do not agree to any of these requests without first asking a skilled car accident attorney for advice. Even better, have an attorney represent you and protect your legal rights throughout the process.
Why Contact a Car Accident Attorney After Boston Road Rage
If you were in a Boston car accident caused by road rage, learn your rights. As egregious as the other driver’s actions were, holding them accountable is not necessarily going to be an easy path. A driver who engages in road rage may have a whole slew of excuses as to why they acted in the manner they did, to mitigate the circumstances. By deflecting their behavior, they not only can avoid civil liability but also potential criminal charges.
The best way to make sure they do not evade full responsibility is to work with an experienced Boston car accident lawyer who you can trust to pursue your claim relentlessly until you get the compensation you deserve. An attorney who has experience winning car accident settlements has likely come across cases involving road rage, or at least aggressive driving, and knows the excuses such drivers may make for their actions. They will have an idea of what evidence and legal arguments you need to prove your case and hold the other driver fully accountable.
Insurance Company Adjusters and Legal Representation in a Boston Road Rage Accident Case
If you speak with an insurance adjuster before getting an attorney in your Boston road rage accident case, they might tell you that hiring an attorney will only slow down the process of reaching a settlement agreement. While this is probably true, since accepting their first offer would bring the case to a close quickly, this does not mean that their advice to not retain an attorney is in your best interest.
The insurance company tells you a lawyer will only slow things down in an attempt to get you to accept what they offer you without any negotiation. Remember, insurers make money from taking in policy premiums. They lose money when they have to pay out claims. Therefore, their interest is in paying as little as possible to settle your claim.
A personal injury attorney can help make sure your interests are protected throughout the claim process. After all, insurers have a team of legal experts on their side making sure they do all the right things, even when those things are not in your best interest. Why shouldn’t you have your own legal representative?
Even when you hire an attorney to represent you, you are always in control. Your accident injury attorney cannot accept a settlement without your approval, and they cannot reject a settlement without your approval. You and your attorney will discuss the pros and cons of each offer. You decide whether or not to accept any offer at any stage of the process.
Boston Road Rage Case Legal Fees
Your physical recovery following a Boston road rage incident can be uncertain. It may take weeks to months before you know what lasting issues you may face because of your injuries. In the meantime, you are probably out of work and not getting your normal pay, and may instead be collecting disability or other supplemental income. All the while, the medical bills continue to come in.
With the financial pressures you face after a Boston road rage accident, it is understandable that you would be wary about incurring any additional expenses. But getting the legal representation you deserve should not be cost-prohibitive—and it isn’t.
First off, when you are considering legal recourse after a Boston road rage car accident, you can get a case consultation with almost any personal injury lawyer free of charge. This consultation will help you understand your legal rights and make sure you have an understanding of whether or not it is worth your time to take legal action. While no two cases are the same, an experienced Boston car accident lawyer can evaluate your case and give you an idea of any challenges you may need to overcome to succeed in your claim.
Following the free consultation, you can decide whether you want to hire a lawyer to represent you. Should you decide to hire an attorney, they will represent you under a specific fee arrangement. As with the case consultation, you might have no costs upfront.
Personal injury attorneys typically work on what is known as a contingency fee. This means that instead of paying for legal services upfront, you do not pay a dime unless and until they secure compensation on your behalf. This can make access to justice affordable, regardless of financial circumstances.