Aggressive driving is commonplace in Alabama these days. People are constantly in a hurry to get wherever they are going, and many of them will cut corners wherever they can to save a minute or two. If you have been driving for any length of time, there is no doubt that you have come in contact with aggressive drivers probably on multiple occasions, and you may have even exhibited some of these behaviors yourself at times.
Although many people frequently drive aggressively, it does not make this practice any less dangerous. Aggressive drivers often take unnecessary risks, and this behavior can sometimes boil over into road rage. Driving aggressively also increases the chances of a motor vehicle accident.
Attributes of Aggressive Driving and Road Rage
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), aggressive driving is defined as “the operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property.” This is usually accompanied by a hurried, nervous, or sometimes angry mindset.
Some of the most common behaviors that could be characterized as aggressive driving include:
- Tailgating/following too closely;
- Weaving back and forth between lanes;
- Failing to yield the right-of-way;
- Running stop signs or red lights;
- Illegal or dangerous passing maneuvers;
- Failing to signal before changing lanes;
- Cutting other drivers off.
If you encounter an aggressive driver, it is best to avoid them as much as possible and not to engage them. Any act that might antagonize them could escalate the situation into a road rage incident.
Pursuing an Aggressive Driving Accident Claim in Alabama
If you are involved in an accident with an aggressive driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses, which may include economic damages such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damage; as well as noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and diminished quality of life.
Although you might assume that you will recover damages from a car accident if the other driver was driving aggressively, this is not a guarantee. Alabama is one of the few states that applies the “contributory negligence” legal standard to personal injury claims. Under contributory negligence, an injured party can be barred from recovering damages if they are found to have “contributed” in any way to the underlying accident, even 1%.
This is a very high bar to clear, and you can be sure that the other side will try to use the Alabama contributory negligence laws against you. For this reason, it is very important to get an experienced attorney involved in your case as soon as possible, so you’re right to recover compensation can be preserved.
Steps to Take if you are in An Accident with an Aggressive Driver
If you are involved in a collision with an aggressive driver, the steps you take immediately after the accident will be a major determining factor in whether or not you are able to secure full and fair compensation.
Here are five critical things you must do if you are involved in an aggressive driving accident, or any other type of motor vehicle accident for that matter:
Get Immediate Medical Treatment
The first priority after any auto accident is to make sure that anyone who sustained injuries receives prompt medical care. With that in mind, your first call should be to 911 to bring an ambulance to the scene. Even if you do not feel like you have been injured, you should still get checked out, because sometimes it takes a little while after the accident is over and your adrenaline rush has subsided before you feel the effects of an injury.
Contact the Police
Whenever there is an auto accident with potential injuries, the police should be called to the scene. The police will help secure the accident scene so it is safe for traffic to pass by, and they will also investigate the scene, interview those involved as well as any witnesses, and file an official report. The police report will be relied upon heavily in any legal proceeding that may result from the accident.
Although there will be a police report, you should create your own report as well. If you have something to write with, write down in as much detail as possible the events that caused the accident. If you cannot write at the moment, use the voice recorder on your smartphone to create an audible report. Also be sure to take multiple photos of the accident scene and capture any video footage you may have available if you have a dashboard camera that was running.
Secure Witness Testimony
If there are any individuals nearby who saw what happened, get their names and contact information so you can follow up with them later on. If they are willing, try to get them to provide a statement while you are still at the scene and everything is fresh in their minds. Many witnesses will be willing to allow you to record them with the voice recorder or video camera on your smartphone.
Be Careful What You Say About the Accident
When you are speaking with others at the scene and later on, be very careful what you say about the accident. Never admit fault or apologize to the other party, leave the determination of fault to the experts. Also, it would be a good idea to take a break from social media for a while. Insurance companies use professional investigators who are very good at uncovering information from social media profiles, so do not discuss your case online or in any electronic form.
Get in Touch with a Seasoned Auto Accident Lawyer
At your earliest convenience, contact an attorney to discuss your case and review your legal rights and options. Pursuing a car accident claim in Alabama without an attorney is an uphill battle, especially with the contributory negligence laws in our state. By retaining the services of a skilled and knowledgeable attorney, you will be in the best possible position to recover maximum compensation for your injuries.