Proving Road Rage Caused a Car Accident
Road rage has come to describe a kind of blind anger demonstrated by one driver toward another driver. The provoking driver may not even be aware of the situation until the angry driver takes some retaliatory action. Road rage can lead to aggressive and unsafe driving behaviors resulting in accidents. Proving road rage caused an accident involves establishing a driver’s state of mind at the time of the accident.
Why are Drivers so Angry These Days?
There is no denying the frustration experienced at times when driving on busy roads with impatient people. But do people who experience road rage get angry because they are driving or are they driving while already upset? It’s hard to say why some people seem to take driving so personally that the careless actions of other drivers can send them into a furious madness leading to irrationally aggressive and dangerous behaviors.
According to NBCnews.com, traffic conditions are not the underlying cause of road rage, but they can provide the circumstances triggering it. From a psychological perspective, persons susceptible to road rage are thought to be in a negative frame of mind to begin with. The actions of another motorist just happen to unleash the beast.
The precipitating actions don’t even have to be particularly aggressive to provoke road rage. But the triggering behaviors are usually inconsiderate or illegal driving maneuvers. It is the perception of the interpreting driver that determines the aggressiveness of the response. Seeing another motorist texting while driving has been identified as a trigger for road rage.
What Road Rage Looks Like in Nevada
A recent survey of drivers from every state ranked each state in terms of its confrontational drivers. Nevada ranked 6th for having the highest incidence of road rage. The drivers surveyed identified the following as the top four aggressive driving behaviors:
- Following too close
- Horn honking
- Making rude or inappropriate gestures
- Cutting off another driver
Evidence showing that aggressive driving behaviors were engaged prior to an accident supports the conclusion road rage was a cause of the crash.
Road Rage Statistics
Something about driving seems to bring out the worst in a lot of people. Incidents of road rage are increasing and are becoming more escalated. The following statistics compiled by Simply Insurance show that road rage and aggressive driving in the United States have become common behaviors and contribute significantly to automobile accidents.
- Over 50% of fatal car crashes involve road rage
- Drivers ages 25-39 are most likely to exhibit road rage behaviors
- Men are more prone to road rage than women
- 80% of drivers admit to experiencing some type of road rage each year
- The most common road rage behavior is tailgating
- Half the drivers targeted by road rage respond with road rage
- Road rage incidents involving shootings are increasing
Road Rage Shootings are on the Rise
Road rage shootings hit an all-time high in 2021. More than 500 people were injured or killed in roadway shootings – marking a 78% increase since 2019. The additional stresses felt by people while dealing with the pandemic may have contributed to heightened tensions and aggressive responses by drivers.
Nevada has seen its share of road rage incidents involving guns in 2022.
- April 2022 – Two men stopped at a red light at the intersection of Flamingo Road and South Jones Blvd in Las Vegas get into a shouting match that spills into a fight in the intersection and ends when one man shoots and kills the other man.
- June 2022 – A male shoots into another vehicle multiple times at the intersection of 12th St. and Lamoille Highway in Elko.
- August 2022– A man shoots at another vehicle hitting its wheel in the area of Interstate 15 and Starr Avenue in Las Vegas.
- September 2022 – A man in Las Vegas gets out of his vehicle and fires several times at another vehicle as it drives away.
How Proving Road Rage Can Affect a Personal Injury Case
In cases that do not involve road rage, liability for personal injuries is typically imposed for the lack of ordinary care demonstrated by the at-fault driver. In personal injury cases involving road rage, the behavior of the at-fault driver is more deliberate and targeted. A driver’s deliberate actions may also violate criminal laws.
The law in Nevada imposes criminal penalties on drivers who are convicted of driving either ‘aggressively’ or ‘recklessly’. Aggressive driving includes such actions as speeding, following too closely, improper or unsafe driving, and failing to yield the right of way. Reckless driving is driving with a willful disregard for the safety of other people. When a driver is convicted of a criminal driving offense, it provides conclusive evidence of civil liability for the resulting injuries to others.
The mental state of the at-fault driver may also affect the amount of damages an injured party may recover. In civil liability cases, when someone acts with ‘gross’ negligence, they’ve shown deliberate indifference to the duty not to cause harm to others. A finding of gross negligence makes it possible for additional damages to be awarded.
A Word of Caution about Proving Road Rage and Auto Insurance
Auto insurance policies are underwritten to cover accidental losses – such as those caused by a driver who is distracted or unable to negotiate difficult driving conditions. Many auto policies exclude coverage for bodily injury that can reasonably be expected to result from an intentional act whether or not the harm was intended.
When road rage is the cause of an accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company may look very closely at the exclusions section of the policy to see if the actions of their insured fall outside the coverage. This may mean bad news for the injured person trying to recover compensation from the road rage driver. Proving road rage may not be the best strategy if it will prevent a driver’s insurance policy from providing coverage for the damages caused.
If you have been involved in an accident cause by road rage, please call 702-680-1111 or contact us online so we can start discussing your case.