Most people have driven too aggressively on occasion or know somebody who drives too aggressively on a regular basis. But what exactly is aggressive driving? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) considers any operation of a car that endangers or is likely to endanger people or property to be aggressive driving. There are about 6,800,000 accidents in the United States every year and aggressive driving is believed to have caused a large proportion of them.
Aggressive driving includes making an obscene gesture at someone in traffic, cutting off a person with the right of way, racing, failing to signal, speeding up to prevent someone from legitimately passing you, weaving through lanes of traffic, boxing in other cars, and tailgating. It is easy to feel that you are in the right and another driver is in the wrong on today's congested roads. However, aggressive driving, which sometimes escalates into "road rage", can lead to tragic accidents. It is far wiser to drive defensively and to always be on the lookout for the potential risk of crashes.
Recovering Damages After an Aggressive Driving Accident
You may be tempted to argue with an aggressive driver if you have gotten in an accident as a result of his or her actions. Conversely, if your aggressive driving has caused an accident, you may be tempted to apologize. Neither blaming nor apologizing is appropriate after a crash. Instead you should politely exchange insurance information with the other driver and you should get contact information from any witnesses.
Some drivers are aware that their insurance premiums are likely to go up after a crash and will try to settle their case in private without informing the insurer. In the case of an aggressive driving accident with potentially serious injuries, this is not wise. If an aggressive driver does not pay up later on, or the accident victim's injuries prove to be more severe than initially believed, a failure to get a police report or gather evidence from the scene can result in the plaintiff losing his or her otherwise strong case.
After an accident involving another driver's aggressive conduct, you should contact the police so that a report can be taken and you have an opportunity to note on the record the other driver's negligent or reckless behavior. Depending on the state and county, the police may cite the other driver. This citation can also be helpful should you need to bring a civil suit. If an aggressive driver is a hit and run driver, you should try to write down or photograph his or her license plate number.
An injured plaintiff who brings a lawsuit against an aggressive driver will have to prove negligence by a preponderance of the evidence. The elements of negligence are: (1) the defendant's duty, (2) breach of that duty, (3) actual and proximate causation and (4) actual damages. Aggressive driving is likely to be perceived as a breach of the duty to use reasonable care to avoid foreseeable accidents.
How can a plaintiff prove aggressive driving? Often a defense attorney will try to discredit a plaintiff's credibility. This is why it is so important for someone injured at an accident to gather contact information from other witnesses who may be able to back up his or her statements, and why it is crucial to contact the police, rather than try to settle up without the involvement of insurance companies. Your attorney may be able to prove aggressive driving by presenting witness testimony or a police report to the jury.