Aggressive driving is a major problem in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NHTSA defines “aggressive driving” as occurring when “an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.” Examples include speeding, weaving in and out of traffic and tailgating.
And then there’s road rage. Aggressive driving becomes road rage when the traffic offenses endanger other persons or property and also involve an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon. There is a clear distinction between aggressive driving, which is a traffic offense, and road rage, which is a criminal offense.
But both aggressive driving and road rage can form the basis of a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.
In 2011, a high-speed game of “cat and mouse” on Interstate 10 in Baton Rouge ended in a fiery crash that killed five people.
David Leger and Kelsye Hall were playing this dangerous game when Leger lost control of his truck, crossed the median and crashed into a car carrying five. The struck car burst into flames, killing three children and two adults. Police called this a road-rage related incident.
Hall was convicted of negligent homicide and sentenced to two years in prison, while Leger was convicted of vehicular homicide and sentenced to eight years in prison. But Leger’s conviction was recently reduced from vehicular homicide to negligent homicide after an appellate court found nothing to indicate that his intoxication contributed to the incident.
A person can only be convicted of vehicular homicide if there’s proof that the offender’s unlawful blood alcohol level combined with his operation of the vehicle to cause a death.
In addition to criminal convictions, Leger and Hall could also face civil lawsuits by family members filing wrongful death claims.
What Is Negligent Homicide?
Negligent homicide is the killing of another person by criminal negligence. It’s punishable by up to five years in prison.
Under Louisiana law, criminal negligence exists when “there is such disregard of the interest of others that the offender’s conduct amounts to a gross deviation below the standard of care expected to be maintained by a reasonably careful [person] under like circumstances.” There does not have to be any specific or general criminal intent.
What Constitutes Road Rage?
A driver who exhibits aggressive or violent behavior in response to another motorist’s actions (or perceived actions) is guilty of road rage. Examples include:
- Running another vehicle off the road,
- Deliberately running into another vehicle, and
- Pulling over and engaging in a physical confrontation.
Sometimes aggressive driving leads to road rage encounters. Cursing, tailgating and cutting other drivers off are all behaviors that can easily escalate into road rage.
Contact Us Today
Contact Patrick Yancey Law Firm today for a free consultation if you or a loved one have been injured or killed in a road rage incident. Our experienced attorneys will help you recover the compensation that you deserve, including medical expenses and pain and suffering.