Having represented thousands of auto accident injury clients in New Port Richey, Pasco County, and throughout the Tampa Bay area of Florida, I can tell you that an at-fault driver’s behavior can be unpredictable. You would hope that after rear-ending another car that the at-fault driver would be remorseful and concerned for the well being of people in the other cars. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. I have been involved in many cases where the abuse is limited to verbal profanity (with young children in the car, no less!), to the threat of physical assault and battery. I have even had a few cases in which my client was physically battered after an accident.
So, what do you do if you are injured in an automobile accident and accosted by an angry motorist from the other car? It would be impossible to cover in a single blog every circumstance that can arise following an accident. In Florida and elsewhere, automobile accident injuries fall under our civil justice system. If a person is attacked or under the threat of attack, then the criminal justice system and it’s laws apply. No state has received more recent national attention than Florida on the right of a person to protect his or her person if under the threat of attack. This article is not intended to cover “stand your ground” or other rights of self-defense. It is hoped that this will simply serve as some very basic advice in the event of a “hothead” at-fault motorist after an automobile collision.
1) First, your attention is going to be on whether or not there are injuries. You should call 911 and report the motor vehicle accident, and tell the dispatcher if there are injuries involved. If you are already under some type of threat by the other motorist, tell the dispatcher.
2) While it can be helpful to get photos of the damaged vehicles, if the other motorist is a hothead, this is not something you want to do before law enforcement is on the scene. It will likely only make the other person angrier, and also expose you while outside of your vehicle.
3) Even if you have already called 911, if you have a new, unexpected situation in which the other motorist is threatening you physically in any way, then call 911 again and report it. The call priority will likely be escalated by law enforcement if there is a threat of a battery to a person.
4) Do not engage in lengthy discussions with the at-fault party. Be as pleasant as possible, but do not respond to questions about how the accident happened or physical symptoms you may be experiencing. Certainly, do not engage in an argument, even if falsely accused of causing the accident. Just respond that law enforcement is on the way, and that you think it best to wait to give a statement.
A person must do whatever is necessary to protect himself or herself from serious additional injuries or death, and has the right to self defense. However, all precautions should be taken to de-escalate a hothead motorist so that it does not come to that. The quicker you report the accident, the sooner law enforcement will arrive and protect the scene from such incidents.
I should also mention that on some occasions it’s the person who was not at fault that is the aggressor. If you have been in in an accident due to another’s negligence, do NOT use profanity or threaten the other motorist! It can only serve to hurt your case, and the at-fault motorist also has rights of self-defense.
If you have been injured in a Florida car accident, I would be pleased to advise you. You can contact me for a free consultation at 727-848-8892.