What Do I Do If I Was In An Accident Caused By Road Rage?
Driving is, admittedly, stressful, but that’s no excuse for a driver taking their frustrations out on others. Unfortunately, road rage incidents are all too common in the U.S. According to research by insurance aggregator The Zebra, 82% of people in 2019 admitted to acts of driving aggression in the prior 12 months. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) also observes that 66% of traffic fatalities involve aggressive driving.
Acts of driving aggression are, inherently, reckless and likely to satisfy the legal test for negligence. If an investigation determines that the driver enacting “road rage” on others was responsible for an accident, then the accident injury victims may be entitled to compensation for their medical bills and other losses.
Dealing with road rage incidents can be stressful, and there is also the potential for things to escalate once they have begun. The key is to put yourself in a safe position, notify police, seek medical attention, and start the process of filing a claim against the aggressive driver with the help of a Tampa car accident lawyer.
Call The Police
One of the first things to do when you are the victim of road rage, if not the very first thing to do, is to call the police. Any accident can have dangerous aftermath, but one involving road rage is more concerning because emotions were already heightened.
The second reason to call the police is to ensure emergency responders are en route. Answer the questions posed to you by the dispatcher and then follow his or her instructions. Depending on the circumstances, you may be asked to move vehicles to a safer location or to remain in place.
Under most circumstances, you are expected to remain at the scene of the accident. However, if you have reason to believe you are in immediate danger, you are permitted to travel to the nearest location you feel is safe to wait for the police to arrive.
Before leaving the scene, try to gather as much information about the other driver as possible. Document their license plate number, make and model of vehicle, and a physical description of the driver. Also, consider remaining at the scene if you feel you would not be subjected to violence or other immediate danger. Locating a driver who has hit you after the fact can be incredibly difficult, so when possible try to keep a cool head and wait for the police to arrive.
Check On The Status Of People Involved
If you are able to do so and feel comfortable enough, check on the well-being of others involved in the crash. Do not do this if the other driver or drivers appear extremely agitated or possibly violent. You do not want to make an already bad situation worse. Offer first aid, where applicable, according to your level of skills and experience.
Take Photos and Document The Scene
When you take photos and videos of the scene, you are collecting evidence that cannot be easily disputed. Take photos of the conditions of the wreckage, the road, the surrounding area, nearby landmarks like road signs, and anything you think may or may be important to document.
When you are taking photos and videos of your vehicle’s damage, take close-up shots as well as panoramic ones. You simply can’t take too many photos — although you can certainly take too few. Your attorney will make the determination regarding which photos and videos are necessary to prove your case.
Exchange And Collect Information
Exchange information with other drivers involved in the wreck, but only if it is safe to do so. Do not put yourself at risk just to get someone’s name and insurance information. When talking to people, do not admit fault and do not apologize. Don’t lay blame, either, or offer your opinion of the events. Information exchanges should be factual and nothing more.
If anyone stopped to offer assistance, ask if you can write down their name and contact information. Witnesses to your accident or to the events preceding the accident can be important should you decide to file a claim for your injury costs.
Seek Prompt Medical Attention
No matter how hurt you do or don’t feel, get a full medical exam within a few days of the accident. An exam is important for diagnosing your injuries and documenting their connection to your accident. When you call 911, they may dispatch an ambulance if you are hurt. EMTs will evaluate your medical condition and make a recommendation as to whether you might need emergency transport. If they recommend transport, do not decline. Otherwise, your refusal may be used as evidence that you are not as hurt as you claim.
Even if you do not have noticeable injuries, know that many injuries can take days to make themselves known after a bad accident. You want to receive a full medical evaluation within a few days of your accident, regardless of how hurt you feel. Delaying treatment can not only hurt your medical outcome but it can also be used as evidence that you are not as injured as you initially reported.
Report The Accident To Your Insurance Agent
Check your insurance documents for the amount of time you have in which to report the accident. In most cases, you will have between 24 and 48 hours to contact your agent and also the carrier for the liability insurance policy of the other driver. When speaking to the insurance company, be sure that you aren’t providing them with anything more than straight facts. Do not get pulled into a conversation about the accident — insurance companies train their staff to get you to talk! It is possible that statements you make could be interpreted as admitting fault or admitting that your injuries are not as severe as you claim.
Strongly consider speaking to an experienced car accident attorney in Tampa before talking to any insurers. Your attorney can advise you as to what to say and how to best start your claim.
Begin A Paper Trail
The time to start a paper trail is immediate. Keep every single medical bill, repair estimate, receipt, and discharge paper you are given. If you have to park in a hospital garage, keep the receipt. If you have to pay for an estimate, keep the receipt. Literally, anything that pertains to your accident or your resultant damages or injuries needs to be hung on to. It may not all come into play, but it will provide your attorney with ample evidence to support your claim.
Contact A Tampa Personal Injury Attorney
You do not deserve to suffer financial distress because someone got too emotional behind the wheel. If you were involved in a Tampa road rage accident, you need to call an experienced personal injury attorney for assistance.
In most cases, it costs nothing to speak with an attorney. Receiving advice specific to your case during your initial consultation is free. An attorney well-versed in Florida accident law will help you determine if it is in your best interest to accept a settlement from an insurance company, to appeal your claim, or take your case to court. Because our attorneys at Darrigo & Diaz work on a contingency basis, we will be honest with you if we think you don’t have a valid claim or if you are being offered the full value of your likely damages.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by road rage, reach out to the experts at Darrigo & Diaz. We have a solid reputation in the community and have been fighting for the rights of victims for decades. It’s time you let us put that experience to work for you. Call our office today at (813) 734-7397 or contact us online to schedule your free case evaluation.