Intentional Tort – Road Rage Settlement After Litigation Filed
Plaintiff, Michael Bradbury, was a resident of Georgia. The driver of a truck intentionally ran over Michael Bradberry. The driver of the truck intentionally caused the accident. A lawsuit was filed in Forsyth County State Court (where the driver was a resident). The facts were, that on May 15, 2011, at approximately 9:28 a.m., Plaintiff was injured directly due to the negligent and reckless acts of the Defendant, who at the time of the collision was driving a 2008 Nissan Titan truck. The Defendant, driver of the Nissan truck, steered directly into the path of Plaintiff Michael and then slammed on his brakes. Michael was on a motorcycle. The intentional act caused Michael to lose control of his motorcycle and suffer serious and painful injuries.
Specifically, on the morning of May 15, 2011, Defendant truck driver was on North GA HWY 400 in Dawsonville, Georgia in his pickup truck. At about the same time, Plaintiff was entering GA HWY 400 from the parking lot of the Walmart in Dawsonville, Georgia to head north on GA HWY 400. At the time of the incident, Plaintiff was riding his motorcycle. Plaintiff entered GA HWY 400 ahead of Defendant. Just as Plaintiff pulled onto Georgia HWY 400, Defendant truck driver unexpectedly and suddenly pulled alongside him and began to yell, curse and threaten Michael apparently thinking he had been “cut off” by him. Michael continued north and Defendant truck driver pulled beside him at the intersection of GA HWY 400 and GA 53, where Michael had stopped for the traffic light. Defendant truck driver then pulled alongside Michael and told him he was going to “f—k him up.” Michael responded that Defendant truck driver needed to calm down and that Plaintiff Michael was going to call law enforcement if he continued to threaten and harass him. Defendant truck driver responded by showing Michael a Sheriff’s Department ball cap he had on his dash, suggesting that he was himself a law enforcement officer. As it turns out, Defendant truck driver’s son was a Sheriff’s deputy.
When the traffic signal turned green, Plaintiff Michael continued north on GA HWY 400 in the lefthand, northbound lane. Defendant truck driver also continued in the righthand, northbound lane beside Plaintiff Michael’s motorcycle. Suddenly and without warning, Defendant truck driver swerved over into Michael’s lane and slammed on his brakes. Michael was unable to stop his motorcycle and struck the rear of the pickup truck, losing control of his bike and careening down the highway. Defendant then fled the scene of the wreck. Defendant was later located by the Georgia State Patrol, who arrested and charged Defendant Truck Driver with aggressive driving, hit and run and leaving the scene of an accident. As a result of the negligent and reckless acts of Defendant, Plaintiff Michael suffered serious injuries to his body and property. Michael experienced and continues to experience pain and suffering as a result of his injuries.
As a result of the collision, Michael incurred past medical expenses, will likely incur future medical expenses, has lost and will lose income and benefits, and his physical health and quality of life have been significantly impaired. The conduct of the Road Raged Driver demonstrated an entire want of care, which would raise the presumption such that punitive damages should be awarded against it, including the following:
- Tortuously failing to keep the vehicle he was driving under control so as to avoid a collision;
- Negligently, recklessly and aggressively failing to maintain his lane and swerving into Plaintiff’s lane of traffic such that he collided with Mr. Bradbury’s vehicle, thereby placing the lives of the motoring public in general, and Mr. Bradbury in particular, in danger; and
- Acting with a conscious disregard for the consequences which justifies the imposition of punitive damages.
All damages claimed by Michael were solely and proximately caused by the tortious acts and omissions of Defendant, for which he was held to be liable. Additionally, Michael claimed the following damages:
- General damages for all elements of the mental and physical suffering he endured, he endures, and he will endure in the future, as defined by Georgia law and to be determined by the enlightened conscience of a fair and impartial jury,
- Special damages for his lost earnings, income and other benefits that he has incurred and will incur in the future because of this collision,
- Plaintiff also claimed as special damages for his past and future medical expenses that have been incurred and will be incurred as a result of the injuries he sustained, in such amounts as the jury deems to be the reasonable value of those services,
- Punitive damages to punish and deter Defendant pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 51-12-5.1 et seq.
Remember that you and others are sharing the road with other motorists or pedestrians and cyclists. It is only fair for all of us to recognize that people are going to work, school or important appointments―and driving under the speed limit is inconsiderate. If you experience road rage, you can simply pull over and let others pass by.
According to the Georgia Department of Driver Services, road rage is a growing problem on our highways. As drivers, once we learn how to deal with road rage, we can avoid the dangerous accidents that often follow an aggressive road rage incident.
First Step – Pull Over & Remove Yourself From the SituationA driver must realize that he or she can’t control another mad or upset driver’s behavior, but certainly you can control your own behavior. When another driver reacts or cuts your lane of travel off, how you react will determine what happens next. If you are able to decelerate and back off, try to take a deep breath and remain as calm as you can, then maybe you can defuse a potentially tragic situation.
It is true, we all might want to vent about the tailgating or the overly cautious motorist who always drives under the speed limit. Simply venting frustration is normal and healthy, so long as you vent lawfully and appropriately.
Often times it is helpful to simply talk to a friend or family member about the experience―counselors state that telling the story can relieve your stress.
What if you are the “bad” driver? Have you ever analyzed your driving style and whether you are often to road rage? Consider changing your own driving habits.
We have all seen Aggressive drivers who routinely:
- Use their horn
- Flash their headlights
- Change lanes quickly and often
- Gesture to other drivers
- Talk on their cell phone
Changing your driving habits is not easy. Sometimes our behavior results from work stress or personal stress. Take the time to relax and notice when you get frustrated. Leave a little early and allow some extra time.
The other side is the instigator―the driver who intentionally excites other drivers by often driving too slow (under the speed limit, skipping turn signals, slowing down early for exits, accelerating unevenly, and hogging lanes).