The Florida Highway Patrol reports the Land O’Lakes man had a nasty exchange with the bikers in the moments before the incident. One of the victims, a 46-year-old Navy veteran, said he feared for his life and the life of his female passenger.
“You don’t know what’s going through his mind,” the victim told 10 News. “Is he going to put the car in reverse? Is he going to turn around? Is he going to stop and pull out a gun?”
Thankfully, neither motorcyclist was seriously hurt. But plenty of road rage victims in Florida aren’t so lucky. The Washington Post reported last year that fatal road rage incidents have risen ten-fold since 2004. Meanwhile, the NHTSA reports that 66 percent of traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports 8 out 10 drivers surveyed ranked aggressive driving as a “serious” or “extremely serious” risk that threatens their safety. And yet, half of those same drivers surveyed conceded that they exceed neighborhood and highway speed limits and more than a quarter consider speeding (an aggressive driving behavior) acceptable. An estimated 26,000 traffic deaths annually are reportedly the result of road rage and driving.
But the question of whether the act was intentional may be central to the issue of insurance compensation. That’s because while assault and battery are generally causes of action in a civil lawsuit, they are not often covered by insurance. Insurers generally do not cover intentional acts of violence. Every policy is different, of course. If a driver hits and kills another motorist while driving aggressively, that may be payable under the policy. However, a driver who stops the car, gets out and shoots the other driver – those injuries probably won’t be covered.
That doesn’t mean the victim has no recourse. If the act was deemed intentional and the auto insurance company refuses coverage, victims might first of all consider legal action directly against the culprit. Your damages could be paid out of the offender’s pocket. The same could be done if the criminal court orders restitution be paid, though bear in mind, that is not the primary purpose of the criminal court or the goal of prosecutors.
Unfortunately, though, a defendant’s assets or resources may be limited. That could mean that even if you win your case, collecting those damages could be tough.
You may want to consider pursuing compensation from the Florida Crime Victim Compensation fund. Qualified applicants are those who incurred a personal injury or survivors of someone killed as a result of a felony or misdemeanor crime punishable under state or federal laws. Those include those who suffered injury as a result of a DUI and hit-and-run. In order to be eligible, victims must:
- Cooperate fully with law enforcement and prosecutors;
- Suffered a physical, psychiatric or psychological injury or deaths as a result of the crime;
- Report the crime within three days of it occurring (unless there is a justifiable reason for a delay);
- File a claim within one year, or two years maximum (exceptions for minor children);
- Not have contributed to the circumstances of the crime;
- Have been engaged in no unlawful activity at the time of the crime;
- Not be a habitual felony offender, violent offender or adjudicated guilty of a prior forcible felony offense.
Your Florida injury lawyer can help you best determine the smartest route of compensation for your situation.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Habitual traffic offender in Pasco jail after running over motorcyclists, June 1, 2016, WFLA, NBC-8
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Report: Bus Company Flouts Its Own Driver Fatigue Safety Rules, June 2, 2016, Florida Injury Lawyer Blog