Road rage is a long-standing problem on Utah Roads. In 2022, 15.5% of drivers in the state said another driver had exited their vehicle to fight or yell at them, and 10% of drivers admitted to experiencing frequent feelings of road rage.

The Beehive State saw 27 aggressive driving fatalities in 2023 and 31 in 2022. As lawmakers move to define road rage and impose stricter penalties, car accident victims must understand their rights and how being involved in one of these crashes could impact their personal injury claim.

Read on to learn more about how a past road rage incident can affect your settlement after a crash and how a skilled Utah car accident attorney from Great West Injury Law can help you get fair compensation.

Understanding Road Rage

The term ‘road rage’ refers to aggressive or violent behavior from drivers on the road. Road rage incidents like the following typically occur due to stress and frustration at current road conditions, such as heavy traffic, congested streets, or other drivers’ erratic behavior. However, that doesn’t make them excusable, especially when they result in injuries.

Road rage often causes accidents that can result in thousands of dollars in damages, lost wages, and injuries for those involved. These behaviors include:

  • Abusive Words and Gestures: Hostile language, excessive honking, rude or offensive gestures, and other forms of abusive communication are also common and direct forms of road rage. They can further escalate tensions, incite retaliation, and distract drivers.
  • Aggressive Drivers: A road-raging driver may speed, tailgate, or swerve abruptly around others to intimidate them or express anger. This increases the risk of impacts, such as sideswipes, rear-end collisions, and rollover crashes.
  • Starting a Fight: In more severe road rage incidents, one driver may exit their vehicle and confront another physically, often with threats. Some of these incidents can escalate and involve weapons, increasing the risk of serious injuries or even deaths.
  • Ramming: Some of the most devastating road rage incidents involve the use of a vehicle as a weapon. For example, a road-raging driver may ram other vehicles or pedestrians off the road with their car or truck.

How it Can Impact Your Claim

If you get hurt in a car crash in Utah, you can claim compensation from the driver who caused the accident. But, if you’ve been involved in road rage incidents in the past, it might affect your compensation. When deciding on a compensation amount, insurance companies and legal advisors often look into your driving record, including any previous citations or charges. A history of road rage may affect the outcome of your settlement in the following ways:

  • Liability Questions: If you’ve been involved in road rage incidents before, insurance adjusters may scrutinize your driving behavior more closely during the accident because they may assume road rage was also the cause behind this crash. For instance, if you were speeding even slightly or displayed aggressive behavior, they might claim you bear partial responsibility, which could impact the amount of compensation you receive.
  • Credibility Issues: Your past can lead to skepticism about your side of the story, resulting in credibility issues. For instance, a jury may doubt your claim that the collision happened when the other driver cut you off, and not after as retailiation, because you’ve previously engaged in road rage.
  • Lower Settlement Offers: Insurers might use your history of aggression to justify offering you less money. They could argue that someone with a history of road rage is more likely to contribute to the cause of an accident.
  • Weaker Bargaining Power: When negotiating a settlement, your past incidents can weaken your case. The other side might assert that the offer is fair, given your history, making it harder to argue for more.
  • Proof of Damages Complicated: It might be difficult to show how much the accident affected you so that you receive fair compensation. For instance, if you claim mental distress after the accident but have a history of aggression, the insurer might argue that your distress is not solely due to the accident and is part of existing anger management issues.
  • Risk of Counterclaims: The other driver might turn your road rage history against you, suggesting you were partly to blame for the accident. This could lead to a complicated legal battle where both sides argue over who was more at fault under Utah’s modified comparative negligence doctrine. If the other driver can show you were 50% or more at fault, you could lose out on compensation completely.

Minimizing the Effect of Past Actions

Even if you’ve had road rage incidents in the past, you’re entitled to a fair settlement when another driver is at fault for an accident and you’re injured as a result. Our Great West Injury Law team understands this and can help mitigate the impact of past actions on your current claim. We can use the following legal strategies to protect your rights:

  • Thoroughly Review Your Case: We meticulously review the accident details, focusing on elements that strengthen your case to construct a persuasive argument. For example, we can seek proof of errors made by the other driver contributing to the incident.
  • Collect Statements of Character: We can gather testimonials from friends, family, and colleagues to illustrate your responsible driving behavior, presenting a fuller picture of your character.
  • Engage in Counseling or Therapy: We encourage and support participation in counseling or therapy sessions for anger management. This helps demonstrate your commitment to improving your driving behavior and can positively impact how others view your case.
  • Recreate the Accident Scene with Experts: Our experts can reconstruct the accident scene to provide clear evidence that the other driver is at fault, distinguishing your past from the present situation.

Get Skilled Legal Representation With Great West Injury Law

Whether you have a clean driving record or have struggled with road rage incidents, our personal injury lawyers at Great West Injury Law can help. We’re dedicated to providing the advice, support, and strategy you need to ensure you get the compensation you deserve when you’ve been injured due to another driver’s negligence.

Contact us today for a free case review and take the first step to resolving your injury claim.