Aggressive driving is part of everyday life for most New Yorkers, but despite its normalization, it is still a dangerous act. By name, aggressive driving is not illegal in New York. However, reckless driving is a criminal offense defined by several common aggressive driving behaviors. If you were injured in an accident caused by an aggressive or reckless driver, you may be entitled to compensation for any injuries or losses you suffered.
How To Identify an Aggressive Driver
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, you can identify aggressive driving when “an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.” Examples of aggressive driving include:
- Changing lanes erratically or in an unsafe manner
- Driving above the speed limit
- Passing in zones where passing is prohibited
- Tailgating other drivers
- Failing to obey traffic signals, such as stop and yield signs
- Failing to signal when switching lanes
- Running through red light signals
- Driving recklessly or negligently
- Ignoring other drivers
- Failing to yield to drivers that have the right of way
- Driving illegally on the shoulder or sidewalk
- Cutting in front of or chasing other vehicles
- Flashing headlights at other drivers
- Excessive honking, yelling or gesturing
- Chasing or racing
Aggressive or reckless driving falls under a very vague statute. Charging a person for driving recklessly is left to the discretion of the police officer. An officer must see someone operating the vehicle in a reckless way to charge, and an aggressive driver may face a charge of reckless driving without causing an accident or even interacting with other drivers. For example, a person caught driving 40 miles over the posted speed limit may face a criminal charge of reckless driving in addition to other civil traffic violations.
The Difference Between Aggressive Driving and Road Rage
Aggressive driving and road rage are often used interchangeably. However, they are not one and the same. Must like reckless driving, road rage has characteristics of driving aggressively, but it is often much worse. Shouting, honking the horn, making threats, and gesturing at other drivers are all examples of road rage and aggressive driving. However, road rage typically takes it a step further when the driver breaks a criminal law.
Examples of road rage are:
- Attempting to block another vehicle from using a traffic lane
- Chasing another vehicle
- Attempting to run another vehicle off the road
- Intentionally slamming into another vehicle
If a driver stops his or her vehicle at a traffic light or on the side of the road and steps out to threaten, attack or injure another driver, that driver has passed from aggressive driving into reckless driving and road rage. The same rules apply if the driver attacks a passenger, bicyclist, pedestrian, or anyone in the vicinity.
Potential Losses Available for Recovery
If you suffered an injury in a car accident caused by an aggressive or reckless driver, you may be able to recover your losses. The compensation you receive would come either from negotiating a settlement from the at-fault driver‘s insurance company or from a payout awarded to you through a court verdict.
The losses that you may recover are divided into two categories: economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include:
- The costs associated with any property damaged during the accident
- Medical bills incurred due to your injuries
- Future medical bill if your care plan requires extended treatment
- Wages lost from missed work
- Future wages lost due to a reduced capacity to work and earn
- Future wages lost due to missed work for medical treatment
- Any other out-of-pocket, miscellaneous expenses related to the accident
Economic damages are easily calculated, but they require the tedious work of collecting medical records, bills, estimates for any auto repair, proof of lost wages, and any other record of expenses.
Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
- Wrongful death damages
These damages are quantifiable mainly by precedent, which entails researching past cases with similar circumstances. In rare cases, you may sue for punitive damages. This requires proof that the at-fault driver acted in a particularly egregious and extreme way.
The Laws That Govern Aggressive Driving Accidents in New York
Certain laws govern car accident cases in New York. If you file a lawsuit against the other driver in an accident, the burden to prove fault falls on you, the plaintiff. When the other driver is clearly at-fault, the common result is that the at-fault driver will compensate you for economic and non-economic damages through his or her insurance carrier. However, the rules change when both parties are at-fault.
Pure Comparative Fault Rule
In cases where both parties share fault, the pure comparative fault rule applies. In car accident cases, a jury or adjuster calculates the total dollar amount of damages and the percentages of fault belonging to the plaintiff and defendant. State law dictates whether the case follows pure or modified comparative fault. New York follows the pure comparative fault rule, which states that the amount you, as the plaintiff, are awarded is reduced by your percentage of fault for the accident.
Under pure comparative fault, you are still eligible for compensation even if your share of fault is greater than the other party. For example, if you are awarded $50,000 for damages and found 60% at-fault for the accident, you may still receive $20,000 in compensation. In states that follow the modified comparative fault rule, if the plaintiff is found more than 50% responsible for the accident, he or she is no longer eligible for compensation.
Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations dictates the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit. Once the deadline passes, the court system will most likely dismiss your case. In New York, the statute of limitations for a car accident lawsuit filed by an injured person is three years from the day the accident happened. This includes a driver, passenger, bicyclist, pedestrian, or motorcycle rider. The same law applies if you are only seeking compensation for damage to personal property.
In a wrongful death case, the statute of limitations is two years. If a loved one died as the result of an accident caused by an aggressive driver, you have the right to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. The two-year clock begins on the date of the accident, even if that date differs from the date of the loved one’s death.
How an Aggressive Driving Accident Lawyer Can Help You
The laws that govern an aggressive driving accident lawsuit in New York are complex, and there are many advantages to hiring an aggressive driving accident attorney. Examples of what an attorney can do for you include:
- Handle all the paperwork involved in your case
- Collect all the evidence necessary to prove the damages you claim
- Deal with the insurance adjusters, who are more likely to cooperate with an experienced car accident attorney
- More accurately value your claim, including the non-economic damages
- Provide support during a very difficult time
In the aftermath of a car accident, you should have time to heal and rest, and dealing with a lawsuit can be overwhelming. The attorneys at Cellino Law are ready to take care of the hard work for you and get the compensation that you deserve. Call today to schedule a free consultation.