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How Distracted Driving Affects Personal Injury Cases

Distracted drivers often cause injury accidents, and fatal crashes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, distracted driving accidents kill nine people daily in the U.S. Injured accident victims typically have grounds to file a personal injury claim.

You deserve financial compensation if you have injuries sustained in a distracted driving accident. That’s why many injured victims turn to an experienced car accident lawyer in their area for assistance.

What Is Distracted Driving?

Everyone who gets behind the wheel of a motor vehicle has a duty of care to drive safely to avoid harming themselves and others. Unfortunately, drivers don’t always use reasonable care. Distracted driving causes 14% – 17% of car accidents in the U.S.

To drive safely, the driver’s attention and eyes need to remain on the road, traffic conditions, and the act of driving. The driver’s hands also need to stay on the steering wheel. If any action violates those requirements, it constitutes distracted driving.

You’ve probably heard that distracted driving accidents cause many injuries, but you may be unsure exactly what the term means. There are four main categories of distracted driving, and some actions fall into more than one. Texting while driving is a prime example.

Auditory Distractions

Distracting sounds can take a driver’s attention away from the road:

  • Talking to passengers or on the phone
  • Music
  • Passengers playing video games without earbuds
  • Loud noises outside your vehicle

These sounds can make you try to find their origin, irritate you, or make you think about them more than safe driving techniques. You also need to hear sirens and horns that may indicate you need to take action, so don’t use earbuds or high-volume while driving.

Cognitive Distractions

Your mind needs to focus on driving safely. Cognitive distractions are things you might think about other than driving. They may include:

  • Daydreaming
  • Mentally planning a work presentation
  • Strong emotions
  • Thinking about how to write or respond to text messages

It’s natural to have thoughts run through your mind, but focusing on them can cause accidents.

Visual Distractions

Seeing what’s happening around your car is critical to safe driving. You must pay attention to pedestrians, traffic signals, road directions and conditions, and other vehicles. Many distracted driving crashes happen because the driver is:

  • Looking at their cell phone or other electronic devices
  • Checking on passengers or pets in their car
  • Reading billboards
  • Glancing at scenery
  • Looking at your car’s navigation system

If you can’t see clearly, you shouldn’t drive. Seeing clearly doesn’t only mean having clean auto glass and mirrors, good vision, and proper lighting; it also includes paying attention to traffic rather than looking at something else.

Manual Distractions

A driver’s hands should remain on the steering wheel for maximum vehicle control. Common manual distractions include:

  • Texting or other phone use
  • Changing radio stations
  • Eating, drinking, and smoking

Most of these actions also take your eyes away from the road. The more simultaneous distractions you have, the higher your risk of causing an accident.

How Can You Combat Distracted Driving Temptations?

Distracted drivers are dangerous. Teen drivers and young adults have a higher risk for distracted driving than those 21 or over.

Many states have restrictions stating that only hands-free device use is permissible while driving, but teen drivers are sometimes strictly prohibited from cell phone use. Other laws may limit the number of passengers teens can carry.

Experts recommend against multi-tasking while driving. Mute your cell phone notifications while on the road, and pull over for talking and texting.

What Is Negligence?

Most personal injury cases have negligence as the basis, and distracted driving is a form of negligence. Proving negligence is sometimes tricky, though. To prove distracted driving, your attorney must show that:

  • Someone owed you a duty of care
  • That person breached their duty of care
  • The breach caused a car accident
  • You sustained injuries in that accident

Your lawyer will investigate your accident to find evidence proving that distracted driving or another form of driver error was a contributing factor. Other forms of driver error include:

  • Drunk driving
  • Fatigued driving
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Failing to stop at a red light
  • Ignoring traffic laws

Once your attorney establishes that your accident resulted from distracted driving or another kind of negligence, you can file an insurance claim or personal injury case.

What Is Fault?

Most car accidents involve at least one at-fault driver; at times, two or more parties are responsible for causing an accident. An investigation determines how much fault each driver bears, and the percentage of fault assigned to you affects the compensation you can receive for your injuries.

Every state sets car insurance regulations and negligence laws. These govern who can seek damages after a car accident and what types of compensation they can receive. Hiring an attorney in your area is vital because of the differences.

Generally, when you and other drivers share responsibility for causing an accident, your percentage of fault is deducted from your compensation. When you hire a competent personal injury attorney, they will work to ensure you don’t shoulder an unfair amount of blame.

No-fault states require drivers to obtain personal injury protection insurance that pays certain accident-related expenses regardless of who caused the accident. Even in those states, the fault is assigned. PIP policy payouts often don’t cover all the damages, and you may need to file a personal injury claim.

How Can Personal Injury Attorneys Help?

State laws governing car accidents, negligence, monetary damages, and compensation differ. The laws can even vary in the same state, depending on your location and type of claim. Hiring a lawyer in your area is best because local attorneys know which specific laws apply to your case.

A personal injury case differs from writing a will or defending against criminal charges. Although any attorney can handle your personal injury case, a local lawyer who focuses on personal injury cases is better equipped because they’re familiar with the laws, protocols, and insurance company strategies involved in distracted driving cases.

Most personal injury firms offer free consultations and work on a contingency fee basis. During the consultation, they will ask for details about your accident and injuries, then tell you how much your case may be worth and how they can help. Typically, your attorney will:

  • Investigate your accident and injuries
  • Gather evidence showing that another driver is at fault, such as phone records
  • Obtain police reports, medical documentation, and other evidence
  • Speak to insurance company representatives on your behalf
  • Negotiate a favorable compensation settlement offer or take your case to trial

Services may vary, so ask what benefits your attorney provides during your initial case review.

Do You Need a Car Accident Lawyer?

If you were in an accident caused by a distracted driver, you need an experienced attorney near you. You don’t have to go through pages of law firm advertisements; contact 1-800 ASK-GARY instead. We are a free helpline dedicated to helping injured accident victims find qualified medical and legal providers.

For stress-free help finding your local personal injury lawyer, call 1-800-ASK-GARY or (800) 275-4279 or submit our contact request form 24/7.