Road Rage in the Bronx

A Bronx road rage incident can sound like something from a bad movie. One driver shoots another because of a traffic jam, a slow detour, or questionable driving skills. Of course, Bronx road rage doesn’t always involve outrageous shootings or violence. Bronx road rage is not always newsworthy, though it happens quite frequently. And road rage can always lead to serious accidents.

When an enraged driver loses control over their emotions in the heavy, tight traffic of the Bronx, their actions often lead to extensive damage property damages and serious, even life-lasting injuries. This piece focuses on road rage in the Bronx—what it looks like, the injuries it may lead to, and how victims can recover compensation for injuries sustained in road rage accidents.

Road Rage in the Bronx

You might not hear much about road rage. But, if you drive in The Bronx, you see it every day. Some drivers simply can’t handle the stress of traffic congestion in the Bronx. They become angry and react unreasonably because they lack the patience to wait for traffic to take its course.

Law enforcement officers can’t always arrest or prosecute road ragers, as road ragers flee the scene. You won’t see road rage listed in police accident statistics either. You only notice that it’s a problem when you analyze the contributing factors listed in law enforcement data.

Aggressive Driving vs Road Rage

It’s important to distinguish between road rage and aggressive driving, though they might sound synonymous. While safety authorities might have different definitions of these terms, road rage is generally regarded as more egregious, extreme behavior than aggressive driving. But what one authority views as crossing the line to road rage, another regards as mere aggressive driving.

One Psychology Today article provides examples of aggressive driving as including risky, but perhaps not “extreme,” behaviors such as speeding, tailgating, or blocking a merging vehicle. Examples of road rage include more extreme actions that often involve physical behaviors, such as ramming into another vehicle, running another vehicle off the road, or using a weapon.

The AAA Foundation (“AAA”) doesn’t necessarily agree. AAA bases its assessment of what constitutes road rage on data gathered from periodic driver behavior studies. AAA defines road rage by what happens when an aggressive driver’s behavior escalates to the extreme. AAA’s road rage list includes some behaviors that other safety authorities might consider aggressive driving.

AAA’s list identifies the following behaviors under the aggressive driving and road rage categories, respectively:

  • Aggressive driving: behaviors such as speeding in heavy traffic, tailgating, slowing down after cutting off another driver, red-light running, weaving in and out of traffic, unsignaled lane changes, blocking other cars from passing or changing lanes.
  • Road rage: behaviors including cursing, rude gestures, obscene gestures, tossing items at other drivers, ramming cars, sideswiping vehicles, forcing vehicles off the road.

Based on the NYPD’s Traffic Stat website’s 2021 data, Bronx drivers regularly display both aggressive driving and road rage behaviors. As of Spring 2021, nearly 2,700 accidents have occurred in The Bronx.

The data show that both aggressive driving and road rage behaviors have contributed to these Bronx car accidents.

  • Following too closely: 227
  • Passing too closely: 146
  • Passing or lane usage improper: 135
  • Unsafe lane change: 126
  • Of these accidents, 942 were sideswipes, which can be due to negligence, road rage, or aggressive driving.

Bronx Road Ragers Don’t Always Crash Into Your Car

You might have noticed that when a raging driver gives someone the finger or pulls a gun on a motorist it doesn’t usually cause an accident between vehicles. The road rager in these situations is expressing their anger in some way other than operating their vehicle dangerously. Often, an excessively angry driver just wants to strike fear into others, and have the wherewithal to recognize that a vehicle crash is likely to have repercussions they do not want to have to deal with. Road ragers may express anger by screaming or making obscene hand gestures.

When another driver devolves into road rage, they often trigger feelings of frustration and anger in their victims as well. Road ragers in the Bronx do not always crash into another vehicle, but they often force another motorist to take evasive action to avoid an accident, which may end up with the motorist crashing into some other object.

Injuries Due to Bronx Road Rage

When you’re a Bronx road rager’s intended victim, it’s mostly about the driver and their rage. As the AAA Foundation points out, most excessively aggressive drivers aren’t thinking about how they impact the other motorist. And, naturally, such a total lack of concern leads to serious injuries.

A driver with road rage might cause injury by directly crashing into or assaulting another motorist. A road rager might also, instead, force another motorist to crash into a building, telephone pole, or other car and injure themself. When you are targeted by an enraged driverr, the potential for injury is just as in any other accident.

Depending on the speed, impact, type of crash, and the vehicles involved, you may sustain a wide range of injuries, including:

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

Road rage may also result in other injuries, given that it more than directly striking another vehicle. Road ragers may exit their vehicles in stalled traffic and become physically violent. Such incidences cannot only be physically injurious but can be emotionally traumatizing.

Paying for Medical Bills After a Bronx Road Rage Accident

Regardless of how you’re injured in a Bronx vehicle accident, your own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage should cover some expenses. PIP insurance may cover medical bills, lost income, and other injury-related expenses. Because New York is a “no-fault” state that requires that drivers carry PIP insurance, you don’t have the right to make a claim or file an action against the other driver unless you sustain a serious injury as defined by New York law. Such serious injuries may include dismemberment, significant disfigurement, loss of an organ, death, and other especially costly injuries.

Can I Recover Damages for My Pain and Suffering in a Bronx Road Rage Accident?

You can file a claim against the responsible driver in a Bronx road rage accident or sue them only if your damages exceed one of New York law’s “serious injury” thresholds. Even if your injuries are serious enough for you to take legal action, road rage accidents often present unique difficulties. To establish the road rager’s liability to pay damages, you must prove that they are responsible for your injuries.

That’s often a challenge for several reasons:

  • As mentioned, road ragers do not always strike your car. You still must produce evidence or witness testimony to prove the road rager negligently, recklessly, or intentionally caused your injuries.
  • In road rage accidents, the case often comes down to your word against the road rager’s. To tip the scales, you typically need an unbiased witness to substantiate your claim.
  • If the road rager left the scene before you crashed, you often lack information to identify them.
  • If you can prove the road rager caused your accident and injuries, his insurer may refuse to cover his claim, based on policy terms or coverage exclusions.

The Other Driver May Have Insurance Issues

Once you get over the hurdle of proving a Bronx road rager’s liability, you often find that there is no available insurance to cover your damages.

Insurance Companies Avoid Bad Drivers or Limit Their Insurance

Aggressive drivers frequently cause accidents, so they often have shaky driving records. As a consequence, they usually have difficulty getting and maintaining insurance.

The US DOT FARS Data tables illustrate why. Drivers involved in the worst crashes often have bad driving histories. Their traffic records often include speeding, suspended licenses, DWI convictions, and other moving violations. These adverse histories affect the limits and terms of liability insurance coverage they secure. Road raging drivers tend to fall among drivers with bad driving histories.

When a driver has a bad driving history, many insurers will refuse to insure them. If they do issue a policy, they charge high premiums with added surcharges. Because the premiums are so high, chronic traffic offenders often purchase state minimum liability coverage limits, or forgo obtaining insurance at all.

Some insurance companies specialize in writing these types of non-standard policies. They often have New York minimum limits that provide $25,000 coverage for a single injured person, $50,000 coverage per accident, and $10,000 for property damage. These limits likely will not provide enough coverage if you sustain severe or catastrophic injuries.

Insurers Don’t Cover Intentional Acts

Insurance companies never cover drivers when they intentionally cause damage. During the underwriting process, they can’t usually determine if a driver is capable of road rage or other intentional acts, so they insert a policy coverage exclusion for all non-accidental crashes. If you prove that a driver caused your accident while engaging in road rage, their insurance company will likely decline coverage for your damages.

When a driver is guilty of road rage, their actions are often negligent or reckless as well. When you make a claim, your chances of recovery increase if you can focus on the negligent or reckless actions and avoid discussing rage.

What Happens if the Other Driver Has No Insurance?

Bronx residents are required by law to maintain uninsured motorists (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage on their vehicles. UM coverage pays your bodily injury claim when the other person has no liability insurance. UIM pays your damages when the other driver has coverage that applies but the costs of your injuries exceed their policy limits.

These coverages apply under several specific circumstances.

  • The other driver has no liability insurance or bond to provide coverage for your damages.
  • The other driver has less than the minimum amount of coverage required by the state’s financial responsibility statutes.
  • A hit-and-run driver causes your accident and injuries.
  • The other driver’s insurance company declines coverage or becomes insolvent.

Insurance companies must offer all New York residents an option to purchase Supplemental Uninsured Motorist Coverage. This coverage applies under the circumstances listed above, and requires the injured party’s insurer to provide coverage for valid claims. It provides significantly higher coverage limits than the coverage mandated by the state.

How Do You File an Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Claim in a Bronx Road Rage Accident?

Call a car accident lawyer.

When you have a potential UM/UIM claim, your insurer steps into the other driver’s liability carrier’s shoes. The insurer handles your claim the way the other driver’s insurance company would have handled it if they’d had a valid policy. Your insurer resolves your claim based on evidence to show the accident resulted from the other driver’s negligent actions. If they determine that the other driver caused your accident and injuries, they negotiate and settle your injury claim.

Your Insurer Fills Conflicting Roles

A UM/UIM claim is unique in that it places your insurer in a conflicting position. They must fill the role of both your insurer and the other person’s insurer. Unlike the other person’s liability carrier, your insurance company has a contract that requires you to cooperate. You have a choice about providing information to the other person’s insurance company. With your own insurer, you don’t have that option.

Settling Your Injury Claim

Before your insurance company makes you a UM/UIM claim offer, it will conduct a liability investigation. Your insurer will obtain and review all available evidence. This includes police reports, medical information, and statements of the involved parties. Once it completes its investigation, it will resolve your claim with you the way you would normally resolve a claim with another liability carrier. Their investigation must show that the other person was liable. It must also show that you sustained serious injuries as defined by the New York law.

That’s why you need a Bronx car accident lawyer—to investigate your claim, properly and timely file it, negotiate with the insurer, and go to court if necessary to make sure the insurance company treats you fairly.