According to the United States Department of Energy, cars on average weigh between 2,400 and 5,000 pounds, and indeed, most Americans have seen the carnage that can occur when two vehicles collide. In 2015, for example, the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety estimates that there were a total of over 1,400 traffic fatalities in our state alone, 104 of which occurred here in Fulton county.
Despite the dangerous nature of operating a motor vehicle, we still view vehicles as tools. We use them for transportation, to move goods from one place to the next, or even for enjoyment. In fact, some people might view their car or truck as an extension of their personality, but 2,400 to 5,000 pounds of steel and plastic can be a dangerous deadly weapon. As such, our state legislature has enacted laws to prevent and punish individuals who commit DUI, reckless driving, or even distracted driving offenses, but one type of driving offense that is discussed less than its counterparts is “aggressive driving.”
What is Aggressive Driving in Georgia?
Aggressive driving is defined as operating a vehicle with the intent to intent to annoy, harass, molest, intimidate, injure, or obstruct another person, pursuant to O.C.G.A. §40-6-397. Aggressive driving is more than a simple traffic violation.
In the state of Georgia, aggressive driving is considered a criminal offense by statute, and the act of aggressive driving is charged as a misdemeanor crime of a high and aggravated nature, which is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000, up to a year in the county jail, or a combination of both. Moreover, a ticket can and normally will be issued to the aggressive driver that carries with it a penalty of six points on their driver’s license.
Accidents Caused by Aggressive Drivers in GA
Similar to distracted driving, aggressive drivers are focusing on the source of their rage and voluntarily ignoring their responsibilities as driver. When their illegal behavior results in a car accident, the aggressive driver can be liable for the damages that their negligent actions caused, but aggressive driving adds a unique factor to a car accident claim.
The Effect an Aggressive at Fault Driver has on a Car Accident Case
Normally, an auto accident claim centers around the argument that the at-fault driver committed an act of ordinary negligence or gross negligence. Any time it is proven that the driver was not only at fault but also committing an illegal act, such as DUI or aggressive driving, that caused the accident. Demonstrating ordinary or gross negligence can be straight forward.
Ordinary negligence is defined in O.C.G.A. §51-1-2 as failing to exercise the degree of care that an ordinary prudent person would exhibit under the same or similar circumstances. Similarly, a more serious form negligence referred to as gross negligence is defined under O.C.G.A. §51-1-4 as a failure to exhibit a degree of care that any person with common sense, even an inattentive person, would exercise in a similar situation. Depending on the facts of the case, an aggressive driver’s actions could meet either of these standards.
Can I Seek an Increased Recovery in an Aggressive Driving Case?
Both negligence and gross negligence in the context of a car accident are grounds to sue the aggressive driver’s insurance carrier and the driver personally in some instances. Moreover, you may be able to seek punitive damages in your case, which is something that wouldn’t normally be sought in a standard car accident claim.
Punitive damages are awarded by juries or courts to punish a defendant for their actions and deter them from committing those actions in the future. To successfully secure punitive damages under O.C.G.A. §51-12-5.1, you must demonstrate through clear and convincing evidence that the aggressive driver demonstrated willful misconduct, malice, or behavior that would raise the presumption of a conscious indifference to the consequences of their actions. Although this standard is high, the actions of aggressive drivers in certain cases can rise to the level what could be perceived as insanity in some instances, and thus, could meet the punitive damages standard in certain cases.
Aggressive Driving Accident Attorney in Atlanta, GA
Being involved in an accident caused by an aggressive driver can be a life-changing experience. Often, you might feel overwhelmed after the accident occurs, but you don’t have to face this stressful time alone. At Cambre and Associates, our team of car accident attorneys are dedicated to helping you seek justice in your case by providing you with aggressive thorough legal representation. So take the first step in reaching a successful resolution to your claim by calling our office for a free confidential consultation.