Road Rage in the Bronx

Traffic congestion and bad drivers easily push your buttons when you drive in the Bronx. While you focus on remaining patient and driving safely, traffic often brings out the worst in other motorists. It becomes an excuse for aggressive driving, inexplicable anger, and criminal acts.

Traffic triggers road rage in the Bronx far too often. Enraged drivers sometimes react violently, using their vehicles as retaliatory weapons. They physically attack other motorists with screwdrivers, knives, fists, guns, and in one instance, a machete. They inspire fear and commit criminal acts; afterward, they often simply drive away.

While some enraged drivers exit their vehicles to initiate physical attacks, others wreak havoc from behind the wheel. They intentionally crash into other cars, causing property damage, injuring occupants, and sometimes injuring themselves. Whether an enraged driver flees the scene or continues harassing their fellow motorists, the victims must deal with the chaos they create.

If you sustained injuries in a Bronx road rage incident, you should never try to deal with the driver alone. When you work with a Bronx car accident lawyer, they take steps to protect your legal rights while you take time to heal.

Defining Road Rage

Road rage is difficult to describe, but you know it when you see it. It occurs when a driver lets circumstances outside their control trigger an angry episode. They simply snap. At least, that’s how it seems. National traffic agencies, safety organizations, and even psychologists believe that road rage is far more complicated than that.

Those responsible for documenting and analyzing driver rage offer varying explanations for these intentional acts.

  • The U. S. Department of Transportation calls road rage “an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon.”
  • The Defensive Driving chapter in the New York Department of Motor Vehicles Driver’s manual describes road rage as “an angry, hostile state which can increase into violent criminal actions.”
  • In the research article, Regulating Road Rage, psychologists suggest that this type of behavior lies at the intersection of aggressive driving and driving anger. They further describe it as intense behaviorally maladaptive anger that only occurs while driving. The authors consider road rage as an end result of a four-stage emotional regulation process.
  • A situation occurs.
  • The person determines how to perceive the situation.
  • They appraise the circumstances.
  • They respond.
  • A Department of Justice Report on aggressive driving and community policing describes road rage as assault motivated by driver anger. The report concludes that road rage is a type of aggressive driving.

Road Rage vs. Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving and road rage are different sides of the same coin. Both include a series of irresponsible driving behaviors that sometimes endanger others. Although traffic and safety experts can’t always agree on what constitutes road rage in the Bronx, they acknowledge it has a connection to aggressive driving.

AAA Foundation’s Aggressive driving research lists these common behaviors as aggressive driving.

  • Speeding in traffic
  • Following too closely
  • Cutting in front of another vehicle, then stepping on the brakes
  • Running red lights
  • Erratic lane changes, often without signaling
  • Pressing on the brakes to anger or annoy the driver behind them

Available research suggests that aggressive driving transitions to road rage when a driver begins physically interacting with other motorists and their vehicles.

AAA Foundation lists these behaviors as road rage.

  • Cursing and rude or obscene gestures
  • Throwing objects at other motorists or pedestrians
  • Ramming another vehicle
  • Sideswiping another vehicle
  • Forcing a driver off the road

An increasing number of road rage incidents involve physical attacks using hands, guns, and other objects. Road rage-related gun assaults have increased significantly each year since 2018. Their national Gun Violence Archive data shows that in a recent year, enraged drivers used guns to injure or kill an average of 44 people each month.

Aggressive Driving and Road Rage Accidents in the Bronx

New York Police Department’s traffic data lists neither aggressive driving nor road rage as an accident factor.

The NYPD’s most recent monthly crash statistics for the Bronx document the number of accidents in the Bronx with factors inherent to aggressive driving and road rage.

  • Unsafe speed, 99
  • Disregarded traffic control, 61
  • Failure to yield the right of way, 81
  • Following too closely, 97
  • Alcohol or drug involvement, 27
  • Unsafe lane changing, 42

Does New York Have a Road Rage Law?

Bronx Road Rage Attorneys

New York has no laws explicitly prohibiting road rage, but several state statutes prohibit aggressive or enraged driving behaviors. When a New York law enforcement officer responds to an accident scene, they document the facts. They issue citations for reckless driving or vehicular assault when the evidence supports that conclusion.

Prosecutors must meet a high burden of proof to achieve a reckless/aggressive driving conviction. When an officer cites a driver for aggressive or reckless operation, they often include more easily provable offenses, such as speeding, red light running, or texting while driving.

Reckless Driving Statute

In New York, reckless driving is a Vehicle & Traffic statute under Section 1212. The language is broad enough to address many aggressive and road rage driving behaviors.

It prohibits actions that:

  • Unreasonably interfere with public highway use
  • Unreasonably, endanger public highway users

Reckless driving is a misdemeanor that adds a criminal charge to a driver’s record. Courts use sentencing discretion, but penalties sometimes include fines, jail time, license suspension, points added to an offender’s license, mandatory driver or anger management classes, community service, and other consequences.

Vehicular Assault Statutes

New York state’s Penal Code, Section 120, addresses road rage-fueled driving behaviors involving alcohol and/or drug use. Vehicular assault in the second degree, Vehicular Assault in the first degree, and Aggravated Vehicular Assault address a driver’s intent to cause harm.

Vehicular assault charges indicate that a driver caused:

  • Serious physical injuries to another person
  • Physical injuries while intoxicated or impaired by drugs, alcohol, or both
  • Serious injury while operating a truck weighing 18,000 pounds and containing hazardous cargo and while under the influence

What Happens to Victims in a Road Rage Incident?

Fortunately, road rage incidents don’t always end with a collision or serious injuries. Sometimes enraged drivers just want to scare or intimidate others. They follow you too closely or crowd your lane. They share their rage using obscene hand gestures and tossing objects out of their windows.

At other times, rage motivates a driver to make dangerous, illegal maneuvers. They crash into your car, injure you and drive away. Sometimes an excessively angry driver cuts into your lane, pulls in front of your vehicle and stops, or forces you off the road, then speeds away. You lose control and crash into another vehicle or a stationary object. The enraged driver becomes the person you report to your insurer as a hit-and-run driver.

Injuries Due to Road Rage in the Bronx

When an enraged driver chooses you as their victim, you can never predict the result. Sometimes they simply intimidate you. At other times they cause intentional injuries. Vehicle speed, impact severity, damage location, and type of crash determine a victim’s injury severity.

Road rage incidents often include excessive speed, severe impacts, and other contributing factors.

Victims sustain injuries ranging from minor to catastrophic, including:

  • Lacerations and abrasions
  • Head trauma
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Fractures
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Soft tissue sprains and strains
  • Internal organ damage
  • Fatal injuries

Coverage for Your Medical Bills

As a New York resident, your auto insurer must provide Personal Injury Protection coverage for you and your passengers. The basic $50,000 PIP coverage limit pays economic losses incurred due to vehicle accident-related injuries. The coverage pays hospital, doctor, and medication costs and 80 percent of your lost wages. It also covers reasonable and necessary expenses.

Payment for Non-Economic Damages

New York statutes also determine your right to seek non-economic damages from the driver who caused your injuries. You don’t have the right to make a claim or file a lawsuit against a responsible driver unless you sustain a “serious injury” as defined by New York Insurance Laws, Section 5102, Definitions.

A serious injury includes:

  • Death
  • Dismemberment
  • Significant disfigurement
  • A fracture
  • Loss of a fetus
  • Permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function, or system
  • A medically determined injury or non-permanent impairment that prevents normal activities for a 90-day period within the 180 days immediately following an injury

A Bronx car accident attorney can determine if your injuries meet one of these thresholds. You have a legal right to recover non-economic damages from the responsible driver if it does. A non-economic settlement or award often includes financial compensation for pain and suffering, anxiety, emotional distress, scarring, and other considerations.

When a Driver Causes a Road Rage Accident, His Insurer Might Not Pay?

When an enraged driver causes an accident, you must overcome a few hurdles while trying to recover compensation. Your attorney must prove that the driver acted negligently or intentionally. You must also accept that the other driver might have liability coverage issues.

Liability Issues

When an enraged driver forces you into a crash without making contact with your car, you sometimes have difficulty proving they caused the accident. You need independent witnesses to confirm your version. Otherwise, it’s your word against the enraged driver’s word.

Drivers who cause road rage accidents often leave the scene without identifying themselves. When this occurs, you won’t usually have enough information to help the police track them down. An unbiased witness can help if they can confirm your version of the accident. Sometimes, street cameras capture an accident.

Coverage Issues

With some motorists, aggressive driving is a habit. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s US DOT FARS Data tables show how motorists involved in fatalities often have a history of prior traffic convictions. These usually involve DUIs, speeding, suspensions, and prior accidents. New York insurance statutes require that all drivers purchase liability insurance, but some insurance companies won’t insure these chronically bad drivers.

Low Policy Limits

If an insurance company agrees to insure them, they usually charge high premiums with added high-risk surcharges. Consequently, some risky drivers can only afford a minimum-limits policy. If they seriously injure you, they won’t likely have a high enough limit to compensate you for your damages.

Coverage Declinations

If a driver’s road rage causes or contributes to an accident, insurers consider it an intentional act. Personal auto insurance policies exclude coverage for drivers when they intentionally cause injury or property damage. If a driver has an auto policy, his carrier has a contractual right to decline coverage for road rage-related acts.

You May Have a Valid Uninsured Motorist Claim

New York laws require that all drivers purchase uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverages. Your policy limits must meet state liability minimum coverage amounts: $25,000 for bodily injury or $50,000 for an injury that results in death.

UM coverage pays your bodily injury damages when a driver is legally liable but has no valid liability coverage. UIM pays your damages if the other driver has coverage but not enough to pay for your injury claim.

The coverages apply under these circumstances:

  • The other driver has no liability insurance or bond.
  • The other driver has less than the minimum limit required by New York’s financial responsibility statutes.
  • A hit-and-run driver caused your accident and left the scene unidentified.
  • The other driver’s insurance company declines coverage or becomes insolvent.

Contact Your Insurer About Your Accident

When you’re involved in any type of vehicle accident, your insurer requires that you report it immediately. This is essential when you sustain injuries due to road rage in the Bronx. The claim department investigates your accident and sets up a claim to pay your personal injury protection benefits. They also assess liability and determine if they owe you a bodily injury liability settlement under your UM coverage.

Ask About Making an Uninsured Motorist Claim

It would be best if you didn’t wait to hear whether the other insurer can confirm coverage or pay your claim. If an enraged driver intentionally damaged your car and injured you, their insurance carrier will likely decline their coverage. When you have uninsured motorist coverage, your insurer steps in and takes responsibility for the injuries the responsible driver’s insurer refuses to pay.

Once your insurer determines that you have a valid UM claim, they eventually negotiate a settlement that considers your injuries and the other driver’s negligence. The interactions with your own insurance company sometimes resemble the interactions you would have had with the other driver’s liability insurer.

When you establish a working relationship with a Bronx road rage accident lawyer, they work on your behalf. A lawyer investigates your accident and clarifies any liability issues. When appropriate, they deal directly with your insurance carrier and negotiate a fair uninsured motorist settlement.

Contact a Bronx Road Rage Accident Lawyer

Andrew Finkelstein Jacoby & Meyers LLP

Road Rage Accident Lawyer, Andrew Finkelstein

If you sustained injuries from an accident involving road rage in the Bronx, contact a Bronx car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Claims involving enraged drivers often include complicated liability and coverage issues. When you work with a seasoned lawyer, they take care of the complications while you rest and recover from your injuries.

When you schedule a complimentary consultation, you discuss your accident with a legal professional. You have an opportunity to ask questions, learn more about your rights, and decide if you want an attorney to make a claim or file a lawsuit on your behalf.