We have all read or seen on the news stories of drivers getting involved in physical altercations due to aggressive driving- or what is commonly referred to as road rage. Road rage can lead to altercations, assaults, and collisions, which can then result in injuries and even deaths.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that road rage "involves a criminal act of violence, whereas aggressive driving can include tailgating, speeding and running red lights." The number of deaths related to road rage is difficult to track, but NHTSA estimates that aggressive driving accounts for about one-third of all crashes and about two-thirds of the resulting fatalities.
Portner & Shure recently represented a client who was involved in a road rage incident. He was driving on I-270 southbound in Gaithersburg, Maryland and became involved in an altercation with another driver on the road. The two men pulled over on the shoulder and exchanged verbal insults, which then led to a physical fight on the side of the highway. Our client fractured the other driver's nose and head butted him, resulting in broken teeth.
Subsequently, our client was charged with second-degree assault, reckless driving, negligent driving, and following a vehicle too closely by the state of Maryland. In Maryland, second-degree assault is defined as causing someone physical injury. If convicted, you can face up to 10 years in prison and a $2,500 fine. In addition, our client was facing a civil lawsuit from the other driver for medical bills and surgery, which amounted to over $27,000. The attorneys at Portner & Shure were able to successfully work with the state and the opposing attorney to resolve the issue by negotiating a much lower pre-trial settlement.
While we may have successfully helped our client resolve both the serious criminal and civil charges he was facing, here, there was no real winner. Both men suffered physical and monetary losses due to a situation which could have been avoided. If someone is tailgating you and acting aggressively, do not make eye contact or retaliate in any sort of way. It's not worth it. If a problem persists, call for help on your cell phone and drive to a police station for help.