A Man Accused of Road Rage Has an Unusual Defense

Joe: 106.7 WIZN, it’s the doors in Roadhouse Blues of Joe Vega taking you through your Wednesday rock and ride home. So, I called my friend Ben Barry at Martin, Harding, and Mazzotti at 1-800-LAW-1010 talking about this New Hampshire road rage incident. Ben, how you doing?

Ben: I’m doing well, Joe. How are you?

Joe: I’m doing good, Ben. I’m calling just because I wanted to get your take on this story. Authorities are saying that this man, Joseph Brown, was tailgating somebody on Monday, sped in front of them and then slammed on his brakes causing an accident. The two parties then pull over. Of course, they get out of their vehicles, then they get into a fight and then this man, Brown, allegedly pulls out a gun and shoots the other person. And I just wanted to talk to you about these road rage incidents that are happening and what to do in that situation.

Ben: Wow. Yeah. Definitely don’t do what Mr. Brown did or attempted to do, clearly. So, what Mr. Brown has done falls under the category of laws that are called torts. It’s when somebody is responsible for the injuries done to another.

Joe: Okay.

Ben:And, Mr. Brown, did was what we call, typically, as an intentional tort, meaning he had some forethought, some malice, some thing in his mind where he intended to pass this guy, slam on his brakes, cause an accident and get out, get into an altercation, maybe, you know, beat him up or shoot him, whatever Mr. Brown was thinking that will be part of the criminal prosecution to demonstrate that his actions demonstrate intent to commit that crime, which is, you know, an assault or battery, an attempted murder, whatever.

Joe: What’s interesting is that Brown’s lawyer is saying that his client acted in self-defense. The complaining witness, this is a quote, “The complaining witness, in this case, was the initial physical aggressor.”

Ben: Sure. I think it will be difficult to demonstrate that there was an initial physical aggressor if the two of them are, sort of, traveling along in vehicles. I don’t know how they demonstrate that, but usually, when you are acting defensively, in most states, you have a defense if you act with equal force to, you know, to stave off the attack. So, if you’re getting beaten up, you usually got to punch your way out of it. If you’re approached with a knife, you can usually use a knife to get out of it. To say that there’s a road rage incident and if Mr. Brown didn’t feel as though he was in peril like he was going to lose his life, I don’t think he’s going to be justified in using the gun…

Joe: Right. Shooting the guy.

Ben: Especially if he pulls out…pulls in front of this guy, slams on his brake, and then forces a, sort of, person to person altercation.

Joe: Yeah. It seems like this guy is the physical aggressor. To me, he allegedly caused the accident.

Ben: Right. So, yeah, a lot of facts there to unpack. It will certainly be an interesting defense. It will be probably an interesting court proceeding, but the individual, ultimately, who is deemed to be the victim here, presumably the person who was shot, would have remedies in a court of law to recover for the personal injury that he suffered, potentially the property damage that he suffered.

Joe: Sure.

Ben: And it’s very unlikely that Mr. Brown’s vehicle insurance policy will cover any of the damage because Mr. Brown acted intentionally, and usually insurance companies don’t cover intentional acts, especially not criminal acts.

Joe: I think the moral of the story here is just don’t road rage. If somebody cuts you off, let it go. And somebody intentionally causes an accident, just called the police.

Ben: Yeah. Roll up your windows. Lock your door, especially if somebody is out there brandishing a weapon.

Joe: All right. Thanks, Ben. That’s Ben Barry of Martin, Harding, and Mazzotti. You can call them up at 1-800-LAW-1010. And you can go online at 1800law1010.com. Thanks for coming on the program, Ben.

Ben: Hey, thanks for calling, Joe.

Joe: Mel Allen taking over from here. He’s got music from Queen and U2 coming up.