Road Rage and Traffic Collisions

Many car, truck and motorcycle accidents are just that, accidents. However, as professional personal injury lawyers, we at the law offices of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, know that quite often a traffic accident is not necessarily something that happens through bad timing, bad luck or some other type of so-called “honest” mistake on the part of one negligent driver -- while the responsibility still should lie with the negligent party, there was likely no real malice involved in the actions leading to a traffic collision. But some other automobile wrecks may not be so innocent.

In accident cases involving deliberate actions that lead to an injury-related or fatal road accident, we have seen time and time again that oft-cited “road rage” is to blame for many of these tragic collisions. Whether the aggressive driver was angry with the victim or just the traffic situation on the roadway, there is no excuse for one motorist to blatantly threaten the well-being of others with his or her vehicle. In many instances, road rage has caused the serious injury of a driver and passengers in one car simply because of a perception on the aggressor’s part that the victim was impeding his progress.

While we hate to think that civility is no longer a virtue on our nation’s highways and byways, the growing problem of aggressive driving and road rage-related traffic collisions may be a sign that people are becoming increasingly more belligerent in cities like Baltimore, Gaithersburg and even in our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.

As drivers ourselves, we fully understand that it can be difficult even for a level-headed motorist to keep his cool when faced with the belligerent actions of another thoughtless and outwardly aggressive driver. Especially when the other person’s road rage appears to be directly focused on you and your vehicle, it can be hard to avoid being sucked in. However, as Maryland trial lawyers, we can say that truly little can be solved by playing the road rage game with another, clearly aggravated driver. The best course would be to let him go his way and avoid additional conflict that might lead to vehicle damage, personal injury or even a fatality.

Over the years, police and traffic safety advocates have identified a number of potential signs of road rage. These can include actions such as sudden acceleration or deceleration that takes place dangerously close to another vehicle; tailgating another car or truck as the aggressor constantly flashes his or her headlamps; or when a driver intentionally slams on his brakes in front of a vehicle he has just passed. In addition to frequent and obviously unsafe lane changes or cutting off other drivers, the typical road rage driver may also resort to constant honking of his or her horn, making rude or insulting hand gestures, and yelling at other drivers.

Unfortunately, road rage has grown to such a degree in this country that police are seeing roadway accidents and beltway crashes that could be attributed solely to an angry motorist taking out his frustrations on other drivers. These accidents are not unlike many “normal” accidental collisions in that the occupants of one or more vehicles may receive minor to serious injuries. In some instances, fatalities have been known to occur, simply because one individual could not keep his cool in traffic.

As auto injury and trucking accident lawyers, the attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen are ready to assist victims of road rage-related automobile, commercial trucking and motorcycle wrecks. Helping an innocent party recover the cost of medical treatment, emergency room care and other accident-related expenses is our primary job. In doing so, we prepare our clients’ cases with the intent of going to trial to prove negligence on the part of the responsible driver. Whether the result of simple distraction, thoughtless vehicle operation or outright aggressive driving, we fight for our clients’ rights.

But our efforts only come into play after a crash has happened. What can anyone do to avoid or at least mitigate a road rage incident? For starters, it is important to realize that most drivers who exhibit the signs of road rage have likely lost what we would term “common courtesy” toward other drivers. For whatever reason, these individuals believe they have been slighted and are not likely to “cool off,” much less curtail their behavior or apologize for it.

The best course of action for a driver who has become the target of road rage is to give that aggressive driver as much space as possible. If possible, allow them to continue on by getting out of their way; sometimes there is no other choice but to exit the beltway, interstate or freeway to get away from the aggressive driver and maintain your personal safety as well as that of your passengers and your vehicle.

One thing you should never do is respond in kind with angry gestures or aggressive driving of your own. This is a sure path to escalation of a situation that can only lead to worse results down the road. If the person follows you, it is best to avoid isolated or remote locations. If you know where the nearest police department or state trooper post is, you may want to drive calmly to that location for your own safety.

As Baltimore auto accident experts, we know that some victims of road rage will not be able to avoid a traffic collision with an aggressive driver bent on some kind of inevitable conflict. Sadly, many of these aggressive individuals may flee the scene once they have caused an accident, which makes holding them accountable even more difficult.

In the case of a road rage-related collision, try to secure as much information about the crash as possible. If you end up in a hit-and-run situation, try to write down the year, make and model of the aggressive driver’s vehicle; include other details such where the events leading up to the crash took place, the color and condition of the vehicle, as well as the license plate number and a description of the driver to give to police once they arrive.

As legal professionals, Lebowitz & Mzhen understand that most car accidents usually are the fault of one motorist in particular. In a perfect world, the responsible party always owns up to their mistake, but this isn’t always the case, especially in instances of hit-and-run and road rage accidents. If the aggressive driver flees, seek out third-party witnesses and get their contact information to share with police.

Statistics compiled by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and organizations such as the American Automobile Association (AAA) indicate that about one-third of motorists feel their safety has been threatened in the last 30 days by an aggressive driver. Because aggressive driving can easily escalate into a road rage event, road safety advocates recommend that motorists should keep their cool in traffic, be patient and show courtesy to other drivers.

While aggressive driving is a traffic offense, road rage can often be treated as a criminal offense especially in cases where another motorist has been the victim of what police would term a vehicular assault on the part of an aggressive driver. Regardless of whether one is injured by an aggressive driver with willful disregard for the safety of others, the best course of action after the fact is to contact a skilled personal injury lawyer with experience in automobile and trucking-related road accidents.

Following an injury accident caused by aggressive driving or road rage, a qualified injury attorney will be able to discuss the victim’s options under the law. It is the job of a personal injury lawyer to help victims recover accident-related medical expenses, as well as damages for pain and suffering, all of which can come from any kind of serious auto, truck or motorcycle collision.

The professional staff at Lebowitz & Mzhen is ready to assist automobile accident victims and their families. For those people hurt in hit-and-run injury accidents, our legal team works with insurance companies to ensure that past, present and future medical expenses, as well as lost wages will be covered. Please give us a call, toll-free, at (800) 654-1949 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. You may also email Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen regarding your auto injury accident case.