Lance Hamel, 38, recently became the victim in a case of road rage that ended up in court. Hamel knows that it could have been much worse. Instead of being in a courtroom explaining what had happened to him, he could easily have ended up in a cemetery.
Road rage is a problem that many drivers have faced, but sometimes it escalates beyond rude gestures and swear words. If you have been injured by a driver with road rage, you can have a Portland injury attorney investigate to get compensation for any injuries received.
Why is this guy following me?
Hamel was on his way to work one day, driving through North Portland, when he noticed another driver following him, waving his hands and honking his horn. Hamel knew the other driver wanted him to stop. He also knew it would be a bad idea, so he continued on to the house he was remodeling.
The other driver was Shawn Mitchell Brockway, a 52-year-old Portland man. Brockway continued to follow Hamel all the way to the house. Then he got out of his car and accused Hamel of not yielding to two bicyclists. Hamel said he hadn’t seen any bicyclists, and an argument broke out.
Brockway bizarrely started to take photos of Hamel, whereupon Hamel went to Brockway’s car to memorize the license plate number.
Things got ugly…and dangerous
Right up to this point, there would have been no need for Portland injury attorneys to be involved. But then Brockway jumped in his car and suddenly accelerated. Hamel was thrown up onto the hood and had to cling on for more than 100 feet. Brockway never slowed down. Instead, he made a sharp turn that threw Hamel off the car and onto the pavement. Incredibly, Brockway drove off, without stopping to see if his actions had seriously injured or killed Hamel. In fact, Hamel was badly injured. He had a fractured tibia and numerous bruises and abrasions.
Two City of Portland employees witnessed the incident and one was prepared to tell the court she saw Brockway deliberately drive into Hamel.
Ok, I’m sorry—kind of…
Brockway was brought to court and came before Judge Kathleen Dailey. Ironically, Judge Dailey had only returned to work after being off injured. She was recently struck by an inattentive driver when she was cycling to work.
Judge Dailey was told that the defense team and prosecutor had reached an agreement whereby Brockway would spend 30 days in jail, write a letter of apology, pay Hamel $1,977 in restitution, take anger management counseling and have his license suspended for five years. Brockway will also be on probation for three years. In return, he pleaded no contest to third-degree assault.
When Judge Dailey asked Brockway if he wished to speak, he declined, saying, “I think I’m OK.” He offered no explanation whatever for his actions on the day, from following Hamel to his place of work to striking him with his car and eventually leaving him lying on the pavement with a broken bone.
The judge disagreed with Brockway’s remark, reminding both Brockway and his attorney, Tom MacNair, that a no contest plea isn’t an admission of guilt; just a concession the prosecution will most likely win the case. Brockway refused to answer how he therefore planned to write a letter of apology, as agreed, when he indicated he didn’t agree with the prosecution’s version of events.
In perhaps the greatest irony to come out of this case, it emerged that Brockway actually made it easy for police to find him after the incident. He phoned 9-1-1 to complain that Hamel had jumped onto his car and tried to pull off the windshield wipers. What he didn’t know is that neither Hamel nor the two city employees had been able to get his license number.
Judge Dailey summed up her own feelings about the case when she told Brockway, “I don’t think you’re OK. When you carry someone on the hood of your car for 100 feet before you dump them off, something is not right. You’re lucky you’re not here on a manslaughter…or homicide charge. This is not how sane people conduct themselves.”
For his part, Hamel knows he’s lucky to be alive. Portland injury attorneys have seen many cases where road rage incidents similar to Hamel’s have ended up the victim suffering catastrophic injuries or worse, with the family of the victim bringing a wrongful death claim.
Road rage is a common occurrence and at its worst, it leads to people being injured or even killed. If you or a loved one has been injured in a road rage incident in Oregon, it’s important to know that the person who assaulted you, for whatever reason, can and should be held accountable for their actions.
Contact a team of dedicated Portland injury attorneys, who will explain all your options in detail. They will also explain how you should be compensated for any physical injuries you received, as well as any emotional and psychological distress you may have experienced.