Roads throughout Cleveland and other Ohio cities are filled with thousands of vehicles all jockeying for position in the course of traveling their intended routes. If you’re part of that mix, it’s likely that you’ve encountered aggressive or even reckless drivers through the years—drivers tearing and weaving through traffic at unsafe speeds, tailgating, passing on the berm and ignoring street lights, stop signs and other road markers.
Such aggressive/reckless driving can cause angst among any or all drivers involved, and in some cases, negative interactions between drivers can spiral beyond crude hand gestures and strong verbal insults into “road rage”—in other words, incidents that feature threats, violence, actual vehicle damage, personal injury, or some combination of all the above.
The term road rage was first coined around 1994 in London, England. Three years later, the Oxford English Dictionary began listing road rage, defining it as “a violent anger caused by the stress and frustration of driving in heavy traffic.” In today’s high-speed, high-stress world, road rage occurs with growing regularity on roads throughout Ohio. It is a serious and constant threat.
Understanding Ohio Laws
When we talk about road rage, it’s important to understand Ohio’s laws with regard to reckless and aggressive driving—and road rage. The definition of reckless operation in Ohio is intentionally vague, but it encompasses any vehicle operation that disregards the safety of other drivers, passengers or pedestrians, or both public and private property. Many routine moving violations can easily be enhanced to operating with willful or wanton disregard in Ohio—a.k.a., reckless driving.
As for road rage, the Ohio State Patrol states on its website, “The term Road Rage was created in the popular media to describe emotion-based reckless, aggressive, and intimidating driving. There is no specific offense in Ohio Law entitled “Road Rage,” but the actions which are labeled “Road Rage” are specific offenses. Among these are: menacing; reckless operation, impeding, and assault, to name a few.”
If you have been involved in a road rage incident, you may wonder whether you can sue the person who perpetrated the incident. Assuming that you can properly identify that person, it is possible that you have a viable personal injury, personal property claim or other action that can allow you to obtain compensation for injuries, lost wages, property damages and other damages inflicted, depending on the specific factors and circumstances. An experienced attorney can evaluate the merits of your case, sort through the many details of the incident, and if a claim is warranted, represent your vital interests.
How Road Rage Can Affect Your Insurance
There are some unique coverage issues raised by road rage incidents that must be handled carefully by an experienced attorney. Specifically, intentional acts would likely void insurance coverage. Insurance covers acts of negligence—not intent. Typically however, road rage causes drivers to act recklessly, and although they may intend to incite the other driver, they typically do not intend to cause impact between the vehicles. This distinction must be factually maintained in order to preserve insurance coverage.
For that reason, clients injured by a road rage incident would be wise to consult with an attorney before giving a statement to any insurance company representatives.
No Cost Evaluation
We encourage you to avoid road rage incidents at all costs (see our Resources section below for tips on avoiding road rage). However, if you, a family member or a friend has been involved in a reckless operation or road rage incident, you need to seek immediate legal advice. At Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg Co., L.P.A., our road rage attorneys may be able to help you pursue compensation for the pain and suffering that you have been forced to endure—and we can help you preserve your insurance coverage to the extent possible. The experienced road rage lawyers of NRS have handled a variety of reckless operation and road rage cases over many years; we fight side by side with victims to make sure they and they families receive compensation for negligence that caused them to be hurt—and make sure their insurance remains active.
In the event you or a loved one have been involved in a reckless operation or road rage incident, contact the Ohio road rage attorneys at NRS Injury Law by filling out our No-Risk Consultation form, or call (855) GOT-HURT and speak with one of our trained staff members.
How to avoid becoming a road rage victim*
There are several strategies you can use to minimize the potential dangers of road rage, including:
- Do not react to provocation
- Stay away from erratic drivers
- Avoid eye contact with aggressive drivers
- Use your horn sparingly
- Do not make obscene gestures
- Do not switch lanes without signaling
- Do not tailgate
- Do not block the passing lane
- When parking, do not take more than one parking space
- Be polite and courteous even if other drivers are not
- Avoid all conflict, and allow plenty of time for your trip
* Excerpted from Frequently Asked Questions on the Ohio State Patrol website.