There is little doubt that almost every motorist has experienced frustration while driving, but sometimes that frustration turns into dangerous behavior. Aggressive driving was a contributing factor in 59 traffic accidents in New York City between January and July 2022. Nine of those accidents occurred in Manhattan.
When a driver engages in aggressive behaviors that lead to an accident resulting in injuries, that motorist has responsibility for damages. If you sustained serious injuries in an accident due to the aggressive driving of another party, a Manhattan aggressive driving accident lawyer could help you recover damages for your injuries.
Understanding Aggressive Driving
Aggressive driving is an umbrella term encompassing a wide range of behaviors. Though the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration lumps speeding and aggressive driving into one category of risky behavior, not all speeding is aggressive driving and vice versa. Aggressive driving is any behind-the-wheel behavior that purposefully disregards others’ safety or intends to put another at risk. Examples of behaviors that could qualify are:
- Cutting another motorist off
- Riding too close to a cyclist or running the cyclist off the road
- Putting on the brakes or slowing down quickly with the intent to punish another driver
- Weaving in and out of traffic
Speeding in congested traffic or excessive speeding can also be considered aggressive driving.
Aggressive driving often escalates into road rage. Road rage can be displaying a rude gesture, but it may also be something as dangerous as intentionally ramming another vehicle. According to American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety research, nearly 80% of surveyed drivers indicated that they had engaged in aggressive driving or road rage within the previous month.
Aggressive Driving and New York Law
New York does not have a law explicitly addressing aggressive behavior. However, the state does have a law defining reckless driving. Vehicle and Traffic Chapter 71, Title 7, Article 33, Section 1212 makes it a misdemeanor to engage in reckless driving.
Reckless driving is any behavior that unreasonably interferes with road use from other drivers, cyclists or pedestrians or unreasonably endangers those users. Aggressive driving is often the same as reckless driving, according to state law.
Knowing How New York Law Impacts Your Case
The legalities in accident cases extend beyond whether drivers are charged with a misdemeanor crime for their driving behaviors. Insurance and personal injury laws determine whether you can file a legal claim and the outcomes of your lawsuit.
New York’s Insurance Law
This state is a no-fault car insurance state. As such, every car owner must carry personal injury protection on all operable vehicles (except motorcycles). PIP coverage pays for medical and rehabilitation costs related to the accident, up to 80% of lost wages and no more than $2,000 per month for up to three years and up to $25 daily for related costs such as household help.
Though N.Y. requires PIP coverage, the law does not necessarily negate legal action for those injured in accidents caused by another’s negligence. If you meet the state’s serious injury threshold, you can file a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages. A serious injury meets one or more of the following criteria:
- Bone fracture
- Permanent loss of a body member, organ, system or function
- Significant reduction in the use of body system or function
If you are disabled for 90 days or more, you also meet the threshold.
The state’s insurance law also allows you to file a personal injury claim if medical expenses and lost earnings exceed your PIP limits. Though your limits may be higher, N.Y. requires a minimum of $50,000 in coverage. It is permissible for you to pursue a legal claim to recover non-economic damages, such as physical pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. A Manhattan aggressive driving accident lawyer can determine whether you have a valid legal claim.
N.Y.’s Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
Another law that impacts whether you can file a lawsuit is the statute of limitations for personal injury cases. The statute of limitations is a strict deadline for taking legal action. The state implements these laws for both criminal and civil cases. Different types of cases have other deadlines.
For most personal injury claims, the deadline is three years from the accident. Three years pass faster than you might realize, especially when you are dealing with the insurance company while also trying to recover from the accident. You may be tempted to wait until you have all your treatments, but it could be too late. Once the deadline passes, your right to file is gone. A Manhattan aggressive driving accident lawyer can help you stay on top of deadlines, but only if you retain one before it’s too late.
New York’s Pure Contributory Fault Law
If you sustained injuries because another driver engaged in aggressive driving that led to an accident, you might be able to recover damages even if you were partially at fault. You must demonstrate that the other driver’s negligent behavior caused or contributed to the accident, resulting in your injuries. When you have proof to substantiate your claim, you have a right to compensation.
The percentage of damage awards you walk away with depends on your portion of the blame. If your actions played a part in the accident, you wouldn’t receive the entire amount. N.Y. imposes a pure contributory fault rule, which means that your damage award is reduced by your degree of fault. If you are 20% responsible, your settlement distribution is 20% less than the total amount. Likewise, if you are 80% liable, you receive the awarded damages minus 80%.
Understanding What an Aggressive Driving Accident Lawyer Does
It may seem like you have a straightforward case, particularly if the other driver was charged with reckless driving. However, you need an in-depth understanding of relevant laws and the legal system to obtain the most favorable outcome. You also need to know how to deal with defense attorneys and their tactics to reduce their clients’ financial responsibilities.
At Cellino Law, we walk you through the legal landscape from the time you first contact us to the moment your case is settled. We offer everyone a free case review, providing advice on feasible options. If you choose to retain services, our Manhattan aggressive driving accident lawyers also provide the following:
- Gathering evidence, including witness statements and physician and therapist reports
- Calculating economic and non-economic losses
- Completing and filing legal documents, including your petition to file
- Communicating with the defense
- Handling pre-trial negotiations
Most personal injury cases reach a pre-trial settlement agreement. However, your attorney won’t urge you to settle for less than you deserve. If the defense does not agree to fair compensation, your attorney will not hesitate to proceed to court. If your case goes in front of a judge and jury, your lawyer is there to fight for your rights and a just damage award.
Getting Help From a Manhattan Aggressive Driving Accident Lawyer You Can Trust
When you need a personal injury attorney who listens to you and provides you with individual and personal attention, you can trust Cellino Law to help. We have the experience and knowledge needed, with a proven courtroom track record, to handle aggressive driving accident cases. Contact us for a free case review. We don’t get paid until we win your case.