Steven A. Bagen | August 1, 2023 | Personal Injury
In Florida, distracted driving is a serious issue. This dangerous habit involves any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on the phone, eating and drinking, or fiddling with navigation or entertainment systems.
With the rapid advancement of technology, the issue of distracted driving has become more prevalent than ever. The tragic consequences of these actions, often leading to devastating accidents, are a stark reminder of how important attentive driving is.
After a distracted driving accident, you don’t have to suffer through the aftermath alone. Working with a car accident lawyer can alleviate a great deal of stress and frustration, as they can negotiate insurance company settlements and navigate Florida’s complicated no-fault rule, enabling you to get back to the details of your daily life.
Understanding Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is a pervasive issue. It encompasses various behaviors that divert a driver’s attention and reduce their ability to concentrate on the primary task of driving.
Distracted driving can come in many forms, from texting or talking on a phone to even changing a radio station. There are three main categories of driving distractions: visual (taking your eyes off the road), manual (taking your hands off the wheel), and cognitive (taking your mind off what you’re doing). Ultimately, anything can cause distracted driving. In just a split second, someone’s life could change forever.
The Dangers of Distracted Driving
In light of the split-second decisions you need to make when driving, even a brief distraction can result in a life-threatening accident. The impacts of such negligence are far-reaching, affecting not only the driver but also other road users. With a lawyer by your side, you can be confident they will quantify these impacts from a legal perspective.
How Often Does Distracted Driving Happen in Florida?
Distracted driving is a serious issue in Florida, causing hundreds of accidents each year. Many of these accidents sadly result in fatalities.
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, distracted driving crashes resulted in 333 fatalities in the most recent year for which we have statistics Florida’s highest record in at least eight years.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also estimates that distracted driving claimed 3,522 lives in that same year.
Legal Penalties for Distracted Driving in Florida
In Florida, the law has strict penalties for distracted driving, including hefty fines and points on your driving record. To help prevent distracted driving, Florida passed the Wireless Communications While Driving Law, section 316.305, Florida Statutes, on July 1, 2019. This law requires drivers to put their phones down and focus on driving.
The law allows law enforcement to stop motor vehicles and issue citations to motorists who are texting while driving. It also notes that a person may not operate a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, or symbols into a wireless communications device to text, email, or instant message.
While this law has penalized distracted driving, distracted driving still persists.
How to Determine Liability in a Florida Distracted Driving Accident
Florida is a no-fault state, which means that if you suffer an injury in a car accident, you need to file a claim with your own insurance company, whether you are at fault or not. It also means that drivers need to purchase a personal injury protection (PIP) policy, which provides coverage for out-of-pocket medical expenses and partial loss of income, no matter who is at fault in the car accident.
If you sustained a serious injury in a distracted driving incident and want to seek compensation beyond PIP, you need to prove that you suffered significant or permanent injury. To do this, it’s necessary to establish liability.
In a distracted driving accident in Florida, it’s the insurance company that typically determines liability by finding who is at fault. The negligence of one or more drivers generally establishes fault. Negligence can take the form of speeding, failing to follow traffic rules, failing to yield, or, in the case of distracted driving, failing to pay attention to the road.
The driver or drivers at fault may then be liable for damages to the victims. The court, however, may also assign a degree of fault to all parties and apportion damages accordingly.
A lawyer can clearly explain your legal rights and guide you through the liability-determination process. You don’t have to feel overwhelmed or frustrated by all the legal details of a Florida distracted driving incident when you work with a dedicated lawyer.
Collecting Evidence After a Distracted Driving Incident
Most distracted driving accident victims, understandably, experience a wide range of emotions and may not know what steps to take next. You can, however, do a few things after such an incident.
Having solid evidence can significantly support your case. This may include photos of the accident scene, witness statements, and police reports. Your lawyer can spearhead the task of collecting and preserving this essential evidence, ensuring you a stronger footing in your case.
Financial Impact: Beyond the Physical Damage
The financial consequences of a distracted driving accident can be monumental and long lasting. Victims may face extensive medical bills, property damage costs, loss of income due to inability to work, and other related expenses. Although it’s difficult to quantify an exact amount, a lawyer can calculate a fair estimate to aid in your claim for compensation.
Navigating the Psychological Aftermath of a Distracted Driving Incident
The emotional trauma following a distracted driving accident often equals or exceeds the physical injuries. You may experience fear, anxiety, depression, or even post-traumatic stress disorder. An empathetic lawyer understands these emotional complexities and provides support, referring you to mental health professionals when necessary and incorporating this trauma into your case.
Dealing With an Insurance Company on Your Own
Although insurance companies typically provide coverage for individuals in distracted driving accidents, they are in business to make money. This means that they may strive to pay out as little as possible.
When dealing with an insurance company on your own, you may find they take advantage and you end up with a much lower settlement than you deserve. You could also spend a very long time pursuing the process. Between lengthy phone calls and endless cycles of emails and missed calls, there is a temptation to throw in the towel and walk away.
Having a lawyer by your side can be invaluable, especially when pursuing the monetary compensation you deserve. They can protect your interests by negotiating with the insurance company to secure a settlement that reflects the true financial impact of the accident. Your lawyer can also represent you in court if the insurance company refuses to make a fair offer.
The injury and trauma that distracted driving causes can take a long time to heal. You may face mounting medical bills and financial hardship in the meantime. A lawyer can provide some relief by utilizing their resources to move your case forward and expedite the legal process.
When to Call a Lawyer After a Distracted Driving Incident
In the immediate aftermath of a distracted driving incident, your biggest priority is to take care of yourself and your mental and physical well-being. This includes following a care plan that your doctor prescribes and consulting with specialists.
Call a lawyer as soon as possible after a distracted driving accident. An early start ensures the preservation of all necessary evidence and also enables your legal team to begin prompt negotiations with insurance companies.
Pursuing a Distracted Driving Case
Navigating the complex maze of personal injury law requires both legal knowledge and impeccable strategy and negotiation skills. A distracted driving case can follow a trajectory from fact gathering and liability determination to negotiating with insurance companies and potentially even preparing for a trial.
Your lawyer will do more than just provide legal advice throughout this process. They will also act as your advocate and guide. They can manage communication with insurers, navigate paperwork, negotiate settlements, and, if necessary, argue your case in court. By entrusting these complex tasks to your lawyer, you can focus on recovering and rebuilding your life.
How Much Is My Distracted Driving Case Worth?
The value of your distracted driving case depends on various factors, such as the severity of your injuries, the clarity of fault, and the available insurance coverage. Your lawyer can assess and quantify your losses and use this evidence to argue for a fair settlement.
Because of the complex nature of each case, it can be challenging to pinpoint the exact value of your claim. Your lawyer can work with you to understand the legal landscape and the actions you can take to maximize your compensation. Florida’s no-fault law complicates the process, making it even more important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Assist After a Distracted Driving Incident?
After a distracted driving accident, a personal injury lawyer can be a beacon of support and guidance. Amid the legalese, a lawyer can provide relief and support during a severely stressful time by dealing with insurance companies and, critically, negotiating settlements on your behalf.
When dealing with the aftermath of a distracted driving accident, victims often face numerous challenges. Emotional trauma, physical pain, and financial uncertainty can make it difficult to navigate day-to-day life, let alone a complex legal case. A lawyer provides relief by taking over the legalities, allowing you to focus on healing and rehabilitation.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
Insurance companies often aim to settle cases quickly and for as little as possible. Your lawyer, aware of these tactics, will stand up to insurance companies on your behalf, ensuring you don’t rush into accepting an unfair settlement. With their extensive knowledge and experience, they can effectively communicate with insurance adjusters, protecting your rights and interests.
Negotiating a fair settlement is a critical part of the recovery process. Without sound legal guidance, a victim may accept a lowball offer. A lawyer, however, can skillfully negotiate to secure a settlement that adequately compensates for your pain, suffering, and other losses. Leveraging their legal knowledge, they can effectively advocate for your best interests.
Get Assistance From a Personal Injury Lawyer
You don’t have to face a distracted driving accident alone. A personal injury lawyer can provide much-needed relief during this tumultuous time, ensuring you protect your rights and secure fair compensation.
Distracted driving poses significant risks to everyone on the road. From immediate physical injuries to long-term psychological trauma, the consequences can be devastating. In these circumstances, having a lawyer to guide you through the legal process can be invaluable. They can help collect evidence, deal with insurance companies, negotiate settlements, and represent your interests throughout the case.
If a distracted driving accident has caused you or a loved one to suffer, seek legal advice and representation as soon as possible. With a dedicated personal injury attorney in Gainesville, FL at your side, you can confidently navigate this complex landscape, focusing on healing and recovering while your lawyer handles the legal intricacies of your case. The law protects and compensates distracted driving victims. With the proper legal guidance, you can use the law to your advantage and take steps toward recovery and justice.