Aggressive driving is a growing problem in states all across the nation and, sadly, California is no exception. In fact, according to a 2018 study by GasBuddy.com, California has more aggressive drivers than any other state. Unfortunately, this results in a large number of aggressive driving-related accidents, injuries, and fatalities.
Fortunately, Californians injured in accidents caused by aggressive drivers may be entitled to a wide range of compensation. If you were injured in an aggressive driving accident and are considering taking legal action, here's what you should know.
Defining Aggressive Driving
Aggressive driving is often punishable under a state's reckless driving statutes. The California state code defines reckless driving as “a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of other persons or property.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) definition of aggressive driving paints an even clearer picture of what this type of behavior entails. According to the NHTSA, aggressive driving is operating a vehicle “in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property.”
Recognizing Aggressive Driving Behaviors on the Road
Learning to spot aggressive driving behaviors may help you avoid serious accidents and injuries. Common examples of aggressive driving behaviors include:
- Speeding (this includes driving too fast for current road or weather conditions)
- Following improperly or “tailgating”
- Passing where prohibited
- Changing lanes unsafely or erratically
- Operating the vehicle in a reckless, careless, erratic, or negligent manner
- Failing to obey traffic laws, signs, control devices, or officers
- Driving on the shoulder, ditch, sidewalk, or median
- Failing to signal
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Engaging in illegal street racing
- Making an improper turn
- Failing to observe traffic warnings or instructions
- Retaliating against other drivers for perceived slights or “road rage”
Penalties for Aggressive Driving in California
Though many states consider aggressive driving to be a simple traffic infraction, in California, aggressive driving is a misdemeanor criminal offense. People convicted of aggressive driving can face stiff penalties, including up to 90 days in jail, fines of up to $1,000, a possible increase in car insurance rates, and the loss of driving privileges.
Additionally, people convicted of aggressive driving open themselves up to civil liability for any accidents, injuries, deaths, or other damages they may have caused.
Seeking Compensation for Injuries Caused by an Aggressive Driver
Victims hurt in accidents caused by an aggressive driver may have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court to pursue compensation for crash-related injuries and other losses. Common compensation for car accidents in California aggressive driving cases include:
- Accident-related medical expenses (including future medical considerations)
- Property repair or replacement costs
- Lost wages
- Loss of income
- Monetary compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Though economic and non-economic damages are the most common types of damages in car accident personal injury claims, in cases where the defendant's behavior was particularly egregious, the judge or jury may award a third type of compensation, known as punitive damages. This category of compensation seeks to punish a defendant for especially wanton behavior and deter similar conduct from others. A personal injury attorney can help you determine if punitive damages might be applicable in your case.
Consult an Experienced California Personal Injury Attorney About Your Car Accident Case
If you were hurt in an accident caused by an aggressive driver, you may be facing serious injuries and unexpected medical debt, all while being unable to work as you recover from the crash. At the Inland Empire Law Group, we understand just how stressful this situation can be. We've helped countless Californians in situations like yours fight for—and obtain—the compensation they need to get back on their feet after an accident.
Do you have questions about a California aggressive driving accident? We can help you understand your legal rights and explore your avenues for compensation. Contact us today at (888) 694-3529 or (909) 481-0100 to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your aggressive driving car accident case with a member of our legal team.