This week, news outlets reported that Matthew Apperson was sentenced to twenty years in prison for shooting at George Zimmerman during a 2015 road rage incident. Apperson allegedly followed Zimmerman in his vehicle while flashing his lights and honking his horn. At some point, Apperson moved into the lane next to Zimmerman and fired into Zimmerman’s vehicle. Zimmerman was not shot, but he suffered cuts from the shattering of his car window. Apperson was convicted of second-degree murder. Of course, criminal charges are appropriate in such a situation. However, civil claims may also be filed against an individual, regardless of whether criminal charges have been filed for an incident. Miami personal injury attorneys seek justice for injury, accident and road rage victims who were injured by the reckless or careless acts of others.
When are civil claims appropriate? Civil claims involving injuries typically require three parts: A legal duty was owed to the victim, breach of the legal duty, due to that breach, the victim suffered damages. Generally speaking, road rage incidents are dangerous and can end up with serious or catastrophic injuries and in some cases fatal consequences. One source reported that 66 percent of traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving. Two percent of drivers have admitted to trying to run another driver off of the road.
Aggressive Careless Driving and Following Too Closely- Violations under Florida law
All drivers on the road have a legal duty to operate their vehicles in a manner that is reasonable under the circumstances. Certainly, attempting to run other drivers off of the road is not reasonable. Following too closely, cutting other drivers off, speeding, and other aggressive behaviors are unreasonable as well and are therefore a breach of this duty. Under Florida law, drivers can be cited for moving violations for driving too closely and in an aggressive manner. See Fla. Stat. 316. 0895. “The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon, and the condition of, the highway. See also Fla. Stat. 316.1923 Aggressive careless driving.
However, to prevail in a civil claim, a breach of a legal duty is not enough. Injury victims must demonstrate damages. The purpose of awarding compensatory damages under our civil justice system, is to make the victim “whole” again. So if an angry driver cuts you off in traffic, sure, you may be annoyed, but you really have not been “damaged.” However, if an angry driver pulls alongside you on a highway and sideswipes your vehicle intentionally, sending you off of the road and into a ditch, you have damages to claim: the damage to your vehicle, medical bills for your injuries, and any pain and suffering you have endured, including any emotional distress.
To succeed in such a claim, you will have to show that your injuries are directly related to the road rage incident. With the assistance of a Miami accident and injury attorney, you will compile evidence that supports your claim, such as accident reports, driving records, medical records and bills, accident photographs, and any other items that strengthen your case. Using this evidence, your accident lawyer will first try and negotiate a settlement with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If negotiations are unsuccessful, a personal injury lawsuit in Miami could be filed.
Contact a Miami accident attorney today to discuss your case
If you were injured due to another driver’s aggressive driving, contact our Gerson and Schwartz to set up a free consultation to discuss your options. Call 877-475-2905 or visit our website at www.injuryattorneyfla.com.