Aggressive driving is very common in South Carolina and throughout the country. We have all had to deal with drivers who follow us too closely, zip back and forth between lanes, pass us when there is very little room to complete the pass safely, and make other dangerous maneuvers. If we are honest with ourselves, we might have done some of these things as well when we were in a hurry and/or running late for an important appointment or engagement.
With all the “busyness” going on in our lives, many people seem to be in a big hurry these days. This has resulted more people engaging in aggressive driving, which often escalates into reckless driving and road rage. Unfortunately, behaviors like these heighten the risk of motor vehicle accidents.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), speeding or driving too fast for conditions is the leading cause of fatal vehicle crashes. Other forms of aggressive driving such as failure to yield the right-of-way, failure to stay in the proper lane, failing to obey traffic laws, and driving the vehicle in a careless or reckless manner are all major causes of motor vehicle accidents as well.
What Happens When You Suffer Injury at the Hands of an Aggressive Driver?
When someone is injured or killed due to the actions of an aggressive driver, they (and their families) deserve to be fully compensated. Compensation in an aggressive driving accident may be available for a wide range of losses, which may include:
- Property damage;
- Hospitalization costs;
- Costs for surgeries and other types of medical treatment;
- Rehabilitation expenses;
- The cost of ongoing medical care (in the case of a long-term debilitating injury);
- Lost wages;
- Loss of earning capacity;
- Funeral and burial expenses (in the case of a wrongful death);
- Physical pain-and-suffering;
- Psychological distress;
- Diminished quality of life;
- Permanent injury;
- Loss of Consortium;
- Loss of comfort, care, guidance, and support.
In some limited cases, punitive damages may also be awarded when the actions of the aggressive driver who caused the accident were especially egregious. One common example of a case when punitive damages may be appropriate is when alcohol is involved. A motorist whose intoxication contributes to their driving behavior should be punished for their actions to help discourage similarly wrongful acts in the future.
It is important to note that being injured in an accident with an aggressive driver does not automatically guarantee that you will be able to recover damages. You must first prove that the individual’s aggressive driving behavior constitutes negligence, and thus amounts to a breach of this driver’s duty to act prudently and reasonably under the specific circumstances leading up to the accident. You must also prove that the driver’s negligence was the direct cause of the accident (i.e., the accident would not have occurred but for the driver’s negligent or reckless actions), and that the accident resulted in compensable losses (e.g., property damage, injuries, or death).
South Carolina applies a modified form of the comparative negligence doctrine to auto accidents and other personal injury cases. This means that a plaintiff can recover damages as long as they are less than 50% at fault for the accident. That said, any damage award would be reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault the plaintiff shares in the accident.
When you are injured by an aggressive driver, there is no doubt that the driver’s insurance company will look for ways to pin at least some of the blame on you so they can minimize the amount of compensation they have to pay. They may also try to claim that your injuries are not as serious as you are making them out to be and/or that your injuries are the result of a pre-existing condition.
When someone gets hurt in an aggressive driving accident, it is generally not recommended that they handle the case themselves. Insurance adjusters are trained professionals whose interests are not aligned with yours. And with so much at stake, it is best to have a strong legal advocate in your corner who is looking out for your best interests.
Injured in an Aggressive Driving Accident in South Carolina? Contact an Experienced Auto Accident Attorney
If you or someone close to you got injured because of the actions of an aggressive driver in South Carolina, Peake & Fowler is here to help. Call our office today at 803-788-4370 to schedule a free consultation and case assessment with one of our attorneys. You may also send us a message through our web contact form or stop by our Columbia, SC office at your convenience.