Reports | October 20, 2022 | Car Accidents
Call a Lawyer if a Negligent Driver Injured You
Driving is hard enough these days without adding initial challenges to it. Drivers have a growing number of things that they must contend with on the road, including large trucks and other drivers who are being reckless. They need their full attention on the road with both hands on the wheel. However, more drivers ignore traffic laws and do what they want while driving.
One typical dangerous behavior that is getting far worse is distracted driving. These drivers care only about their own convenience and gratification behind the wheel and are not focused on your safety. You may be entitled to significant financial compensation if you or a loved one have suffered an injury in a distracted driving accident.
Drivers can prevent most distractions, and you can hold drivers who engage in distracting activities liable for the harm they cause you. Most people with injuries do not know where to begin when holding others accountable for their actions. If you are in this position, get the medical help you initially need, then reach out to a car accident lawyer about a possible claim.
Distracted Driving Fatality and Injury Statistics
According to the National Highway Transportation safety administration, over 3,000 people lost their lives in just one year in crashes that involved distracted driving. Over 400,000 people suffered injuries in distracted driving crashes. Many of these injuries were made worse by the fact that the distracted driver made little to no effort to avoid the crash, or the hit car could not anticipate an erratic action by an unfocused driver. Even though every advertising campaign tells motorists to drive defensively, it is virtually impossible to avoid or protect yourself from a driver who is not concentrating.
While there is much focus on distracted driving car accidents, others on the road or sidewalks also face danger from unfocused motorists. For example, pedestrian accident fatalities are at a multi-decade high because distracted drivers are not stopping at crosswalks or yielding the right of way. In addition, cyclists and motorcyclists are also injured increasingly by distracted drivers. Roughly one in every five distracted driving fatalities involved people located outside of vehicles.
Why Distracted Driving Is Extremely Dangerous
Although it seems apparent that you need to keep your complete focus on driving, the statistics make it even more apparent why distracted driving is hazardous. For instance, a car traveling 60 miles per hour moves 88 feet per second. When the driver senses the need to brake until the car begins to slow down, the car can travel 132 feet.
It takes 4.6 seconds to bring a car traveling at 60 miles per hour to a complete stop. In that time, the car will travel the length of an entire football field. Even missing the prompt to brake by a split second because the driver was distracted drastically increases the risk of an accident.
There are different dangers when traveling on city roads. Here, there are numerous challenges that a driver may face. In addition to other cars on the road, some pedestrians and bicyclists may have the right of way at specific points. These hazards can arrive at a moment’s notice. Just because the speeds are slower on a city street does not mean distracted driving is less dangerous. If anything, a driver may need to pay even more attention to the city streets because of the constantly changing conditions.
Teenagers Are Most Likely to Drive Distracted
Distracted driving has become one of the largest menaces on the road today. While it seems as if nearly everyone is not paying the attention that they should, some groups of drivers are more likely to be distracted than others. One of the things that makes distracted driving even more dangerous is that the least experienced drivers are the ones who tend to do it more. For example, drivers under 21 are more likely to send a text behind the wheel.
Even though some teen drivers who recently acquired their licenses are more vigilant about distracted driving, they tend to pick up worse habits as they age. They also might succumb to peer pressure or they might have a group of friends in the car who are inherently distracting. No matter the reason, inexperienced drivers who get distracted are doubly concerning.
Distracted Driving Is More of a Problem Than Ever
Distracted driving has continued to rise over the last two decades. The obvious factor in the increase in distracted driving crashes is the invention of the smartphone. Now, drivers have one more thing to contend for their attention when they are behind the wheel. Checking social media or sending a text can seem like a momentary activity, but even taking eyes off the road for one moment can take the valuable time that the driver needs to respond to a hazard.
No matter how many awareness programs federal and state governments invest in, they cannot seem to make a dent in distracted driving crashes and injuries. As long as cars contain things other than driving, motorists will be tempted to pay attention to them while driving. Awareness can only do so much. Even though distracted driving awareness is now a part of driver’s education in many states, it is up to drivers to follow the laws and pay attention.
Distracted Driving Is More Than Just Texting or Checking Social Media
Distracted driving takes three forms:
- Behaviors that take the driver’s eyes off the road
- Behaviors that take the driver’s hands off of the wheel
- Anything that distracts the driver’s focus while they are operating a motor vehicle
Of course, distracted driving can include texting behind the wheel or using a mobile device. In addition, many other behaviors can be considered distracted driving.
Anything that takes a driver’s attention off the road can be considered distracting, including:
- Having a conversation with another passenger
- Eating or drinking
- Applying or adjusting makeup or other grooming acts
- Adjusting controls or using the car’s touchscreen
You Do Not Necessarily Need to Prove That a Driver Was Distracted
It may not always be easy to prove that a driver was distracted. In many cases, what you can prove is the negligent act itself that caused the accident. For example, if a driver lost control of their car because they were looking down at their phone, you can still prove that they were negligent because they should not otherwise have lost control of their vehicle.
Other distracted driving behaviors that can cause a crash include:
- Running red lights and stop signs
- Not seeing a car stopped in front of the driver and rear-ending the car
- Missing a change in speed limit because the driver does not see the sign
- Causing a crash while changing lanes because the driver does not check into their blind spot
- Making an illegal turn
- Failure to slow down in a work zone on a highway
- Head-on collisions when a driver veers outside of their lane or crosses the center line on a highway
You Need to Prove Negligence to Win a Car Accident Case
In any accident case, you will need to prove that another driver was negligent to receive a settlement check or jury award that pays for your injuries. Distracted driving certainly meets the test for negligence because reasonable drivers always pay attention to the road. The ordinary driver keeps two eyes on the road and two hands on the wheel.
Still, it may benefit your legal case if you can prove that the driver was distracted at the time of the crash. If there is a close call in determining liability for the crash, the fact that the other driver was distracted may be enough to tilt the scales in your direction. However, the court will not deny you compensation if you cannot prove that the driver was on their phone. They will still have done something considered negligent, such as rear-ending your car.
A police officer may show up at the scene after the accident and issue a citation based on what they observed. They may not have seen that another driver was on their phone. If they did, it will be on the accident report, and it can be helpful in your case.
There are other ways that your car accident attorney can help you build proof showing that the other driver was distracted. Your best strategy is to locate witnesses who saw the accident and can testify that they noticed that one driver was not entirely focused at the time of the accident. They may have seen the driver looking down or using a hands-free device. The driver themselves will certainly not admit that they were on the phone at the time of the accident because they know that can make them liable.
You Can Obtain Records That Could Prove Distracted Driving
Even if you do not have witnesses, you may still get your hands on evidence that can help your case. For example, if your case goes to a lawsuit, your attorney can subpoena the other driver’s phone records showing that they were either engaged in a conversation or sending a text at the time of the crash. It takes an experienced attorney to know what they are looking for and how to get the helpful information.
If the other driver was an employee on the job, you may need their phone records. Your lawyer can do that during the discovery process in a car accident case when they make a document request of the defendant.
How to Get Financial Compensation for a Distracted Driving Accident
When you have suffered an injury in a crash that involves distracted driving, you have several legal options to obtain financial compensation:
- You can file a claim directly with the responsible driver’s insurance company, seeking to negotiate a settlement agreement.
- You can file a lawsuit in court, requesting a jury trial where you will get a ruling on liability and the damages you may deserve.
Choosing one path does not entirely rule out the other path. If you file a lawsuit, you will still likely attempt to negotiate a settlement agreement before your case goes to a jury. If you filed a claim with the insurance company, you can take your case to court if the insurance company either denies your claim or simply will not offer you enough money.
You can seek financial compensation from whoever was responsible for your distracted driving accident. If the other driver operated a commercial truck, their employer might be financially responsible for paying her for their injuries. Any employee on the job at the time of the accident is legally considered an agent of the company that employs them, making their employer liable under the respondeat superior doctrine.
Financial Compensation in a Distracted Driving Accident
If you can prove that someone else was responsible for the accident successfully, you will be in a position to discuss financial compensation with the insurance company.
In any distracted driving accident, you will be entitled to the following damages:
- The complete cost of your medical expenses
- Property damage to your vehicle
- Lost wages for the money that you might have earned from work
- Pain and suffering for the physical discomfort and mental anguish that you endure
- Loss of enjoyment of life
You Need a Lawyer When You Have Experienced a Distracted Driving Accident
Even if you think that there is no question that the other driver was responsible for the accident, you will still need a lawyer for your case. The insurance company may offer you a fraction of the amount you deserve, and you might not know the difference when you handle your claim on your own.
An experienced personal injury attorney will know the value of your case and advise you to reject a settlement offer that does not fully pay you for the harm you have suffered. Your lawyer can also keep the insurance company from pressuring you or doing anything else that can threaten your legal rights.