Liability for a Road Rage Incident
Road rage incidents typically result in both assault, and battery. Assault is basically placing somewhere in fear of immediately being harmed, battery is essentially just unwanted touching. If someone acts aggressively towards you, and tries to hurt you using their car, or their body, assault and battery have both occurred. Assault and battery are both crimes. That means that the offender can be criminally prosecuted by the state. For that to happen, you would need to know who the person was who attacked you, and you would need to press charges. Once that occurs, the state is the one going after them, not you. You could be called as a witness though and any other evidence or witnesses that you could supply could be very helpful. A victim can still receive restitution in a criminal proceeding. That amounts would essentially be what are referred to as “special damages.” Your compensation would basically be any medical bills, or lost wages that you could show were a direct result of the road rage incident. Keep in mind that in order to win in a criminal trial, the state must be able to prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That is a very high standard, so unless you have a slam-dunk case, you may never recover anything from the criminal action.
The truly great thing is, assault and battery are both also “intentional torts.” A tort is a civil wrong; it is something that can trigger a civil lawsuit. Most torts fall under a category called negligence. When a person is not reasonably careful, and there actions hurt someone else, the law makes the person who caused the harm pay for the harm. People win lawsuits all the time where the defendant did not intentionally do anything wrong, they just weren’t careful enough. Because assault and battery are both intentional torts, they can be even easier cases to win as long as you have evidence showing that they occurred. The burden of proof is far lower in a civil case, its referred to as “by a preponderance of the evidence.” That basically means that a jury just has to believe there is more than a 50% chance that the defendant did it. Once you prove that they are at fault, you not only can go after general damages like you can in negligence cases such as car accidents, but punitive damages even become available because assault and battery are intentional torts. General damages consist of emotional harms and pain and suffering. Those things can get expensive quick. Punitive damages exist not to compensate the plaintiff for damages they incurred, but to serve as extra punishment to deter future bad actions by the defendant.
If someone lets their anger get the best of them, and they choose to physically hurt you, there must be consequences. You can choose to press charges and still file a civil lawsuit against them as well. Unfortunately it may be difficult to collect much, because the odds are that if they are stupid enough to attack someone on the side of the road, they are likely too stupid to have many assets. Most auto insurance will not cover an intentional act by its insured, even if that intentional act involves the car that they insure. That will leave you seeking other ways to collect directly from the violent offender. If you have been the victim of a road rage incident, consult with a personal injury lawyer right away about your rights and the available remedies.
This article is offered only for general information and educational purposes. It is not offered as and does not constitute legal advice or legal opinion. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this article without first seeking the advice of an attorney.