Road Rage and Texas Car Accidents
Most car accidents are caused by human error - a failure to signal or stop, or wrongly anticipating one’s ability to make a turn, for example, However, there is a small percentage of auto accidents in Texas that is caused by what can only be called road rage. Sometimes people simply lose their tempers - but that ceases being acceptable when others are hurt by that anger. If you have been in an auto accident due to someone else’s road rage, you likely have a cause of action under which you may seek compensation for your injuries.
Road Rage vs Irritation
Sometimes people who have experienced road rage accidents do not report it, or they minimize the degree to which it played a part in the accident because they do not believe the other driver’s behavior reached the level of road rage. In reality, any behavior driven by extreme anger qualifies as ‘road rage’ if perpetrated while driving a car, and in many cases, the risk factors can be pinpointed.
For example, road rage occurs much more often on urban highways than on rural roads - according to the most recent available data, Bexar County has the highest reported incidence of road rage-related accidents in the state. Road rage is also more common in men than in women, and more common in younger drivers than elder.
An AAA report states that as many as 80 percent of drivers report displaying some symptoms of road rage in the most recent year, with almost 20 percent of those reporting going so far as to get out of their car to engage another driver, cutting another driver off on purpose or even bumping another car on purpose. These actions are not mere irritation or anger; this type of behavior can and does rise to the level of recklessness which is actionable on many occasions.
Negligence and Recklessness
In Texas, there are four criteria that one must meet in order to establish an action for negligence: the existence of a duty of care (which is established by law between motorists), a breach of that duty, a showing that the defendant’s conduct breached the duty (and nothing else intervened), and a showing that the plaintiff suffered tangible harm. If it can be shown that the defendant’s conduct rose to the level of recklessness, it is a persuasive piece of evidence, given that recklessness requires a higher evidentiary standard than negligence. Negligence is not being aware of potential harms, while recklessness is being indifferent to the possibility of harm.
As of this writing, there are no specific road rage laws in Texas, though most aggressive actions are at least considered moving violations. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor, punishable by 30 days in county jail and/or a fine of under $200, but the real potential danger in terms of liability is the possibility of being held to have committed negligence per se.
Negligence per se in Texas is defined as a time when someone breaks a law and harms someone who would have been protected by that law. Thus, if you are found to have driven recklessly and caused harm to someone that the reckless driving statute would have protected, you may be held liable for negligence as well as recklessness.
Call a Knowledgeable Auto Accident Attorney
While everyone gets angry, there is no excuse for that anger to lead to reckless or dangerous conduct. The passionate New Braunfels car accident lawyers at The Bettersworth Law Firm can help you decide how best to pursue a potential claim if you have been injured by someone else’s actions. Contact us today for help.