What Damages Are Available in Road Rage Accidents?
Anyone who has driven on an LA freeway has witness some form or road rage, from tailgating to swerving at other drivers. This behavior is not only dangerous, but it is also criminal. Many times, it can lead to a catastrophic accident and costly injuries. Unlike accidents that are the result of negligence or careless, road rage is a different matter and requires a skilled hand to pursue compensation.
Auto Insurance Policies and Aggravated Driving
As opposed to everyday speeding and driving under the influence, road rage is considered an intentional action design to commit harm against a driver or pedestrian with a vehicle. In the state of California, road rage is a criminal act that is covered under Assault with a Deadly Weapon charges (Penal Code section 245(a)) and can lead to a suspended license under Vehicle Code section 13210.
Most would assume that an accident caused by road rage would be covered under an auto insurance policy, generally speaking, the opposite is usually the case, as reported by the Insurance Information Institute (III). Auto insurance companies actually can suspend a driver’s policy if they commit road rage that leads to an accident. As a result, you would be unable to file a claim against the driver’s insurance policy and may have to pursue damages against the driver directly – or with your own insurance company.
Compensation for Road Rage
Pursuing compensation can be difficult to do unless the driver is significantly wealthy and can pay out-of-pocket for the damages you have suffered. Alternatively, if the driver was working at the time, either as a delivery driver for a wholesale company or truck driver, your claim could be against their employee’s insurance policy.
If neither option is available, you may seek compensation through your personal auto policy if you have comprehensive coverage or collision coverage. Comprehensive coverage would handle any event not traditionally covered by an accident, such as a tree branch that falls on your windshield or if an angry driver hit your car with a bat. In addition, collision coverage covers any situation where a car come in contact with another object. If an aggravated driver forced you to hit a streetlamp, this coverage would kick in.
In addition to civil action, you may also pursue criminal charges. If the courts determine beyond a reasonable doubt that the aggressive driver is guilty, you may be awarded punitive damages, however these are less comprehensive than personal injury damages, as they are only designed to punish the defendant, not award the victim. In some cases, the decision to award punitive damages may be appealed on the grounds that a defendant cannot afford to pay a large award to the plaintiff.
If a civil suit and your own auto insurance and health insurance policies do not completely cover your damages, you may apply with the California Victims Compensation Board (CalVCB). This department approves funds for victims of crimes, including road rage, and can cover the cost of:
- Crime scene clean up
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Home or vehicle modifications for victims who became disabled
- Income loss
- Medical and dental treatment
- Mental health services
- Residential security
To be eligible, you must be a resident of California, have contacted the police after the incident and cooperate with their investigation, suffered injuries because of the crime, must have not been involved in a crime that led to the injury, must not have been charged with a felony, must comply with the CalVCB staff, and apply within seven years of the crime.
Legal Guidance After an Accident
Road rage is a serious danger for Los Angeles County residents and can result in damaging injuries that last for years. If you have been a victim of road rage and are unsure of what to do next, contact the Glendale car accident attorneys at Aghabegian & Associates, PC. We can evaluate all avenues of compensation and liability to advocate for your best interests. Call us at (818) 507-4311 to learn what legal options are available to you after a road rage accident.