Aggressive Driving and Road Rage in Maryland

Highways and city streets present inherent risks and dangers even when everyone is driving safely and courteously. Aggressive drivers increase the chance of accident and injury. In many instances, road rage results in car accidents that injure innocent drivers. When a Maryland car accident occurs, one of the first questions everyone has is “what happened?” Did a car malfunction? Did a tire suddenly blow out, were some taillights not working, or did the emergency brakes fail to work? Perhaps there was debris in the road or an animal that caused one vehicle to swerve. Or, there may have been a driver error, a distracted or intoxicated driver, for instance. There are many possible causes of Maryland car crashes. But one that often is not thought of is road rage – when drivers act aggressively and perhaps recklessly while on the road.

If you or a loved one was injured in in a car crash that was caused by aggressive driving or road rage, contact our Baltimore law firm for an auto accident caused by road rage today. At the Law Offices of Larry B. Litt, our lawyers work to help injury victims receive compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call 443-844-1528 today to schedule a free consultation.

What Is Aggressive Driving?

Aggressive driving is when the driver of a vehicle ignores the rule of the traffic and commits offenses that endanger other vehicles and/or property. Aggressive driving can occur in many forms. Studies by the National Safety Council has revealed that aggressive driving is a factor in car accidents in at least 50% of cases. Thus, when the police catch aggressive drivers, they are often ticketed and face monetary penalties as, long as there is no traffic accident. However, if aggressive driving is associated with other infractions such as driving without a license or driving a car without a registration, the penalties are much more severe, and the car can even be impounded for a certain amount of time.

What Is Road Rage?

Road rage is a much more serious offense, compared to aggressive driving. In fact, it is a criminal offense in most states for which one can be incarcerated if it involves physical violence against another road user. Most drivers involved in road rage are males between the ages of 20-55, and they come from all types of backgrounds. Many of these individuals are known to use their vehicle as a weapon against other drivers when they are honked at or cut off. Road rage drivers are very impulsive and have no control over their emotions. The slightest traffic infraction against them triggers rage, which often expresses itself as physical violence. At the scene of the traffic altercation, the driver involved in road rage usually gets out of the car to confront the other driver. These men are very aggressive and sometimes are known to carry weapons on them.

Sometimes, an aggressive driver may be triggered into road rage by the actions of another driver. When a physical confrontation occurs, the resulting road rage may result in damage to the car, injury to the other person, or even property damage. Road rage should not be taken lightly as sometimes, it can lead to death.

Road rage may take a few different forms. A driver may yell at others, make angry gestures, or honk repeatedly when they feel frustrated on the road. They may start tailgating other cars, aggressively trying to get them to drive faster. Cutting off other cars and trying to block them from changing lanes are both road rage behaviors, and in some intense situations, an angry driver may even hit another car on purpose. Understandably, road rage can lead to serious Maryland car collisions, injuring or even killing others.

Aggressive Driving and Road Rage Laws in Maryland

Aggressive Driving

In Baltimore, aggressive driving is defined as committing three or more specific driving violations in a single, continuous period of driving. The list of offenses include:

  • Speeding
  • Tailgating
  • Flashing their high beams
  • Failing to yield the right of way
  • Sudden braking; brake checking
  • Disregarding traffic lights or signs
  • Weaving through traffic
  • Blocking the lane; occupying two lanes
  • Improperly passing; sudden or reckless lane changes
  • In some cases, physically attacking other drivers

These types of behaviors happen when a driver gets upset or frustrated. Aggressive driving is widespread, according to a research study that claims that around 80% of drivers have exhibited aggression or road rage. When aggressive driving becomes extreme, this is called road rage. Road rage involves ramming into cars, sideswiping, forcing drivers off the road, using obscenities and rude gestures, and throwing items.

Road Rage

In some cases, aggressive driving can escalate into road rage. The National Safety Council defines road rage as a physical assault of another driver or vehicle that occurs as a result of a traffic incident. The driver with road rage will often use their vehicle to inflict physical harm to another driver or their property. Examples of road rage include the following:

  • Cutting off another vehicle, then stopping abruptly, causing a rear-end car collision
  • Honking their horn repeatedly
  • Screaming or yelling
  • Making obscene and rude hand gestures
  • Tailgating

When drivers become impatient on congested roadways, anger can boil over and result in acts of aggressive driving fueled by road rage. If a driver causes a car wreck while experiencing road rage or driving aggressively, they may be personally liable for any injuries or damages resulting from the collision.

The following road rage statistics are provided by the National Safety Council:

Young males are more likely to exhibit this type of behavior
Thirty-seven percent of all road rage incidents involve firearms
Half of all road rage victims respond with aggressive behavior
Over a seven-year period, 12,410 injuries and 217 murders were due to road rage

If you encounter another driver who is showing signs of aggressive driving or road rage, get out of the way, and allow the driver to pass you, avoiding any eye contact with the other driver. Do not make any rude comments or obscene hand gestures to the other driver, even if they have directed them towards you. If you are concerned about your safety or are worried about the safety of other drivers, you can always call 9-1-1. The one universal feature about most aggressive drivers is that they love to drive fast, irrespective of road conditions or other people on the road.

Liability for Injuries Caused by Road Rage Under Baltimore Law

Not every poor driving decision constitutes aggressive driving or road rage. There are times when mistakes occur or drivers are simply careless, and some auto accidents are just accidents. However, when road rage and aggressive driving lead to a car collision, the driver’s conduct is usually considered seriously negligent or even reckless. Negligent drivers in Baltimore may be liable for all damages and injuries they cause.

An auto crash caused by aggressive driving or road rage will generally include several moving violations or criminal charges. If you were injured in a road rage collision, any evidence of the other driver’s behavior would help prove that their conduct was reckless or negligent. We will use any police reports or traffic tickets to help demonstrate liability and fight for your compensation in court if need be.

If another driver’s behavior is severely aggressive or turns violent, then their conduct may constitute “gross negligence.” Mere negligence – failing to act reasonably under the given circumstances – is often enough to hold the other driver liable for a crash. For example, failing to stop at a traffic light or speeding on a highway can lead to liability if it causes a crash. Gross negligence, on the other hand, is more severe. To prove gross negligence, it must be shown that the conduct was extraordinarily reckless and well below any reasonable driving standards. If you were injured in a car crash due to a driver’s gross negligence, additional compensation might be awarded.

It is also important to note that Maryland follows the “contributory negligence” doctrine. This means that if you contributed to causing the accident in any way, the other driver might not be liable for any injuries you suffered or for any damages incurred. When confronted with an aggressive driver, you should not respond with similar behavior.

Compensation in Maryland for Injuries Sustained From Road Rage

The two types of damages generally awarded in Baltimore personal injury cases are economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages are easily quantifiable and include medical costs, damage to the vehicle, and loss of income. Noneconomic damages are more difficult to calculate but can nonetheless be compensated with monetary damages. Pain and suffering damages are the most common examples of noneconomic damages. If your injuries were caused by another driver’s gross negligence, recklessness, or intentional acts, you could be awarded additional punitive damages. Punitive damages do not arise from the injury but are meant as a punishment for excessive reckless conduct. For example, an aggressive driver who was drunk at the time of the accident could be required to pay punitive damages. It should be noted, however, that punitive damages are rarely awarded in Maryland.

What To Do if You Are a Victim of Road Rage or Aggressive Driving in Maryland

Road rage and aggressive driving can lead to car collisions and, in some case, physical attacks. If you have been in an auto crash that was caused by another driver’s aggressive driving and they were behaving violently after the wreck, it is important to remain in your vehicle and avoid engaging with the other aggressive driver. Call 9-1-1 and stay in your car, if possible, until the Police Officers arrive. Be sure to give a detailed report of any aggressive or reckless conduct the other driver was exhibiting as this could be evidence to help determine liability.

If you suffered an injury, get medical attention immediately. Once you have been treated and your doctor has determined that you are in stable condition, contact our experienced Baltimore lawyers for injuries caused by an aggressive driver or road rage.

Conclusion: Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident Caused by Road Rage or Aggressive Driving?

If you have been injured or have lost a loved one in a preventable Maryland car accident – whether caused by road rage or one of the many potential causes – you may be entitled to financial compensation and not even know it. Injuries sustained in a car crash caused by road rage or aggressive driving could lead to expensive medical costs, physical therapy, and lost wages. We will work with you every step of the way to help you get compensation for your accident expenses. Compensation available through a personal injury claim can help you deal with the accident-related costs you are facing. Contact the personal injury car accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Larry B. Litt to discuss your legal options and potential car wreck claim. We can be reached at 443-844-1528 – call today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.