The most important thing for a victim to remember in a traffic accident caused by road rage or that inspires another driver to commit criminal assault as a result of road rage is the difference between the criminal case and the civil case.
Traffic accidents are civil matters right up to the point where one or the other driver commits a criminal offense. In many cases, these two events are handled separately in different venues. It is important for anyone involved in such an accident or for anyone who is the victim of road rage to know what to do afterwards.
If you are involved in an auto accident and find one or more people at the scene become violent or unreasonably angry, you have every right to protect yourself. Driving to the nearest police or highway patrol station is a good option if you don’t feel safe.
If one or more of the other drivers leaves the scene, the very first thing you should do is call the police. Most states have laws against leaving the scene of an accident. In any event you should also request an ambulance. Move your vehicle out of traffic if possible as well.
Even if you don’t feel like you’ve been injured, having emergency medical personnel on the scene alongside the police will not only strengthen your case later, but confirm you haven’t been injured.
If possible; take pictures of everything you possibly can. If it’s dark, make sure you use your camera’s flash. Photograph the street, any nearby signs and your own vehicle. Also try to document the weather conditions if possible and take pictures of any nearby side streets, traffic signals and any unusual features in or near the road. Remember, you will very likely have to describe this accident in exhaustive detail to a judge or jury months from the accident itself. Note times and dates of everything.
If any other drivers remain on the scene, take pictures of their cars, license plates, driver’s licenses and insurance documents. If traffic conditions permit, try to take as many pictures as possible before the vehicles are moved.
If the accident is a hit and run, and one or more other drivers left the scene without stopping to advise you of their identity and insurance information as required by law, you will need witnesses if you plan to prevail in court. This is of particular importance in a criminal matter.
A good place to start is to see if any surveillance cameras are in operation near the scene. Make sure to point them out to the responding officers after you call the police. ATMs, some traffic signals and most all-night businesses have security cameras.
If there were any other people at the scene, treat them just like other drivers. Take a picture of their ID and introduce them to the responding officers so they can take a statement.
Once you’ve done everything you can at the scene, be sure to hire competent legal counsel like Carter Mario and notify your insurance company. By taking these steps you are protecting yourself from unfair blame and potentially disastrous financial liability.