Damages and Liability for Road Rage Incident

UPDATED: Jul 12, 2023Fact Checked

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Jeffrey Johnson

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Mary Martin

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Mary Martin has been a legal writer and editor for over 20 years, responsible for ensuring that content is straightforward, correct, and helpful for the consumer. In addition, she worked on writing monthly newsletter columns for media, lawyers, and consumers. Ms. Martin also has experience with internal staff and HR operations. Mary was employed for almost 30 years by the nationwide legal publi...

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UPDATED: Jul 12, 2023

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UPDATED: Jul 12, 2023Fact Checked

Over the last several years, incidents of road rage have been gradually increasing. Sometimes these incidents even result in personal injury or property damage. When you are a victim, you will probably wonder, “Can I sue the other driver, who assaulted me in a road rage incident?” Assuming that you can identify the person who actually assaulted you, you may be able to sue the driver for any personal injuries or property damage to your vehicle, in addition to potential criminal charges.

Assault and battery are both intentional acts. Assault B is reasonable apprehension of an immediate battery. This means the other person threatened to hit you or did something which placed you in reasonable apprehension of being struck by the other party. Battery is the harmful or offensive touching of another person without consent or privilege. If the other party struck you, this would constitute harmful or offensive touching to establish liability for battery. Harmful or offensive physical contact with the person or with something near the person would establish liability for battery. Examples of battery include:

  • The other driver started hitting your car with his car;
  • The other driver gets out and starts pounding on your car, while you are in or near the car;
  • After driving you off the road, the other driver gets out of his car and strikes you.

Any of these examples may be considered sufficient harmful or offensive contact for the other driver to be liable for battery. It would also be sufficient to establish liability for assault because you were placed in reasonable apprehension of an immediate battery in that the other party’s actions indicate that he may hit you.

If you were injured in this road rage incident, when you finish your medical treatment and are released by the doctor, obtain your medical bills and medical reports. The medical bills, any wage loss due to your injuries and the medical reports will support your claim for damages (the amount of compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit). The medical reports will document the nature and extent of your injuries. Since assault and battery are intentional acts, in addition to compensatory damages for your injuries, you could also seek punitive damages against the other driver in the road rage incident. Punitive damages are amounts to punish the other party for intentional, malicious acts that caused your injuries.

Assault and battery are both civil and criminal matters. In addition to your civil suit and filing an insurance claim, you should contact the police and/or the district attorney’s office to pursue criminal charges against the driver in the road rage incident. If there were witnesses to this road rage incident, their testimony will provide additional evidence supporting both your civil and criminal cases. It will be easier to establish liability in your civil case as opposed to the criminal case because a lesser burden of proof is required in a civil case.

In a civil case, proof is established by a preponderance of the evidence, which means that the evidence establishes that it is more likely than not that the incident occurred while in a criminal case; guilt has to be established beyond a reasonable doubt—a much higher standard than in a civil case. Your damages are also more limited in a criminal case. Most states only allow prosecuting attorneys to collect actual damages, not punitive damages.

Also keep in mind that the prosecuting attorney represents the county or state, they do not represent you personally. Even if a criminal charge is pending, you should still consult a private attorney to explore all of your options and remedies as a victim of road rage.

Case Studies: Damages and Liability for Road Rage Incident

Case Study 1: Sarah vs. Road Rage Driver

Sarah was driving home when she encountered an aggressive driver who began tailgating her and shouting obscenities.

In a fit of rage, the driver intentionally rammed into the back of Sarah’s car, causing significant damage and leaving her injured. Sarah was able to identify the driver and decided to pursue legal action.

Sarah could potentially sue the driver for personal injuries and property damage resulting from the road rage incident. She could gather evidence such as witness testimonies, medical reports, and repair bills to support her claim for damages.

Case Study 2: John vs. Road Rage Driver

John, while driving on the highway, inadvertently cut off another driver. Enraged, the driver aggressively swerved in front of John, causing him to collide with the other car. Both vehicles sustained damage, and John suffered whiplash injuries.

John, recognizing the severity of the incident, reported the road rage incident to the police and filed an insurance claim. He also decided to consult a private attorney to explore all his legal options.

John’s civil case would be easier to establish compared to the criminal case, as the burden of proof is lower. He could seek compensation for his injuries and vehicle damage, potentially including punitive damages for the intentional and malicious acts of the road rage driver.

Case Study 3: Lisa vs. Road Rage Driver

Lisa, a pedestrian, was the victim of a road rage incident when a driver intentionally veered onto the sidewalk, striking her and causing severe injuries. The incident was witnessed by several bystanders who provided crucial testimony to support Lisa’s case.

Given the severity of her injuries and the clear intent of the driver to harm her, Lisa pursued legal action against the road rage driver. She sought compensation for her medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages resulting from the incident.

The witnesses’ testimonies played a crucial role in establishing liability in both the civil and potential criminal case.

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Jeffrey Johnson

Insurance Lawyer

Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

Insurance Lawyer

Mary Martin

Published Legal Expert

Mary Martin has been a legal writer and editor for over 20 years, responsible for ensuring that content is straightforward, correct, and helpful for the consumer. In addition, she worked on writing monthly newsletter columns for media, lawyers, and consumers. Ms. Martin also has experience with internal staff and HR operations. Mary was employed for almost 30 years by the nationwide legal publi...

Published Legal Expert

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.

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