Aggressive driving is dangerous, particularly when it's due to road rage. Road rage is a factor in more than half of all car accidents that result in a fatality. Road rage is deliberately driving aggressively with the intent to intimidate, scare, or hurt someone else on the road. In many states, people who drive in this manner can be criminally charged with assault and battery, and victims of road rage can file civil lawsuits for personal injury.
If you've been the victim of road rage that led to an accident, here are several things you should do before filing a lawsuit.
Find Out What the Charges Are
If the driver was charged with a crime, it could help your case. Since you are a victim of the crime, the local District Attorney's office should be in contact with you regarding details that you witnessed, as well as to determine whether or not there are any additional matters they need to know about.
If you aren't sure if the driver was charged or what they were charged with, you can find this information out by going to your local courthouse and looking up the records in the clerk's office. Alternatively, many courts have this information online as it is public information. Typically, aggressive driving charges can include reckless driving and assault and battery, depending on the specifics of the case.
If you discover that there were no charges at all, speak with an attorney who specializes in auto accidents. You can still file a lawsuit against the aggressive driver even if they weren't charged with any criminal activities. And, if your attorney feels that there may be enough evidence to charge the person criminally, the attorney can bring this to the attention of the magisterial court or criminal court in the jurisdiction where the accident occurred.
Timing of the Court Procedures Should Be Considered
The compensation you may be awarded by the civil court proceedings will depend on the damages you incurred, and this includes not only monetary damages but punitive damages as well. And if the aggressive driver was criminally charged and either pled guilty or was found guilty by a judge or jury trial, the punitive damages you can be awarded may greatly increase. For this reason, it's a good idea to wait until the criminal court proceedings have either concluded or have brought forth enough witness testimonies and statements that can be used in the civil court for your personal injury lawsuit.
It's important to understand that the burden of proof is different between criminal court and civil court. For the criminal court proceedings, the state through the District Attorney needs to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. For civil court, the case needs to be proved by preponderance of evidence, which simply means they were more than half likely to have caused the accident. The stronger the case is for your personal injury lawsuit, the more likely it will be that the evidence will show a preponderance of evidence.
Also, your attorney can obtain transcripts of the proceedings from the criminal trial to be used to assist in presenting evidence that will help in your civil lawsuit. However, you will need to be sure you don't wait too long to file your civil case as there may be a statute of limitations for doing so. Statutes of limitations vary from state to state, so be sure to ask your attorney what the statute of limitations is for your particular case so you don't miss the deadline while you are waiting for the criminal trial to move forward.
Contact a local law firm, such as Dressler Law, to learn more.Share
28 March 2022
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