Aggressive driving is not only aggravating for those being tailgated, cut off, or otherwise harassed, but can also be dangerous and cause accidents. In fact, 15 states have enacted laws or regulations prohibiting aggressive driving and prescribing civil and other statutory penalties for those whose actions lead to a traffic stop or accident. If you're injured by an aggressive driver, you may be wondering about your next steps to help punish the offender and make yourself whole. Read on to learn more about the treatment of aggressive driving under civil and personal injury laws, as well as what you should do to help yourself recover.
Will an aggressive driver who hits you be arrested?
In the states that have enacted laws penalizing aggressive driving, a driver whose aggressiveness has caused an accident will likely be cited at the scene and subjected to court fines and penalties at a later date. Failure to pay these fines could result in a driver's license suspension or even an arrest warrant on contempt charges. However, if this aggressive driving rises to the level of recklessness, or if the driver tests positive for alcohol or illicit drugs at the scene of the accident, he or she will be arrested and may be subject to misdemeanor or felony charges. You may be asked to testify against the defendant if he or she is arrested for reckless driving -- you'll be asked questions about the accident and what you remember.
If the other driver pleads guilty to reckless driving, or pays the citation or other aggressive driving penalty, you should be able to use this admission of guilt as evidence in a personal injury lawsuit you bring against the driver. If this driver contests either charge or fails to appear or pay his or her fine, you may be able to use this as negative character evidence.
How will you be compensated for the medical bills and other expenses resulting from your accident?
Regardless of how the civil or criminal case against this driver is adjudicated, you should be able to recover medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs from the aggressive driver through a personal injury lawsuit. You'll want to consult a personal injury lawyer or law firm before filing, as these cases can be complex and shouldn't be handled without professional counsel. Although you'll be able to gather some evidence on your own, and can assist your attorney by providing information, the bulk of investigation and negotiation will be handled by your attorney.
There is a certain period of time during which you're able to file this lawsuit -- called the statute of limitations. This time clock begins ticking as soon as the accident takes place, and may expire a few years (often two to three years) later. If you fail to file a lawsuit against the aggressive driver before the statute of limitations for your state expires, you'll be forever prevented from taking any legal action against this driver, even if your injuries are severe. This is one reason it is important to seek legal counsel as soon as possible after your accident.
As the case progresses and your attorney gathers evidence, the defendant may offer to settle this case outside of court to avoid a lengthy, expensive battle. In some cases (especially if you're dealing with looming medical bills), these offers can be tempting. However, in exchange for the settlement amount, you'll be giving up the right to recover any additional funds from the defendant, so it's important to make sure any settlement offer fully covers both past and future medical expenses, as well as lost wages and other costs resulting from the accident.
To find a car accident attorney to represent you in your personal injury case, go to websites like the one linked to here.