Have you ever been driving down the freeway and noticed that the driver behind you was driving too close? You try speeding up and slowing down but they remain too close to your bumper for comfort. If you're like most people, you would probably tap your brakes as a warning to the other driver to back off or risk an accident. But did you know that such an antagonizing gesture may actually be what causes an accident in the first place?
You've probably witnessed the scenario above and know what happens next. The second driver, now angered by what you did, speeds up and weaves through traffic in order to get in front of you. They then suddenly slam on their brakes, causing you to rear end them. In this scenario, who is the negligent driver? You might answer the other person. After all, they were the one tailgating you. But did you ever think your actions could be negligent as well? If not, then you might want to think again.
In California, our Department of Motor Vehicles defines negligence as failing to operate a vehicle with the degree of care expected to avoid an accident. One could argue that by provoking the second driver, you started the sequence of events that led to the rear-end collision. Using this logic, you might be considered just as negligent as the other driver, which opens the door for questions regarding your ability to file a personal injury claim and seek compensation.
That's not to say that the second driver was not negligent as well. Their actions might even be considered aggressive according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which defines aggressive driving as "the operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property."
As you can see aggressive or negligent driving like this, which could qualify as road rage, can easily complicate things and make it difficult for you to know whether or not you can seek compensation from the other driver. Because of the complexity of it all, you'd be better served if you talked to a skilled accident attorney who can explain your rights and what the law can do for you in a situation such as this.