Distracted driving has long been a problem, but new technology has contributed to its growth over the last decade. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports from its most recent data that more than 3,100 people died in fatal crashes in 2017, an increase from previous years. This suggests distracted driving statistics in 2018 and beyond will continue to increase.
When a driver who has been engaging in reckless, dangerous, or distracted driving has caused you harm, you deserve compensation for the economic loss, pain, suffering, and additional stress that comes with an accident and injury. The skilled legal team at Golden State Lawyers, APC has represented personal injury clients for four decades, including those who have been in car accidents with distracted drivers. Contact one of our San Jose distracted driving accident lawyers at (408) 279-4222 to discuss the details of your case and learn how we can assist you.
What Is Distracted Driving?
The risks posed by distracted driving have prompted government agencies at all levels to focus on educating the general public about driving distractions and reducing related accidents. Each organization offers its own distracted driving definition. Although definitions vary slightly, they all converge on the fact that distracted driving is any activity that disrupts your attention while driving. This might include visual, manual, and cognitive driving distractions.
Despite the risks associated with distracted driving and the legislation of distracted driving laws, many motorists continue to engage in behaviors that might lead to an accident. When thinking of distractions, most think of cell phone usage and texting. Yet, several other distractions can pull a driver’s attention away from the road. Most distracted driving definitions include the following activities:
- Eating and drinking while operating a vehicle
- Assisting back seat passengers, often children
- Focusing on events outside of the vehicle, such as a traffic accident
- Excessive talking or arguing with passengers, or unruly passengers
- Personal grooming, applying make-up, and combing or styling hair
- Adjusting the radio, GPS, climate controls, and other vehicle features
Driving safely requires that drivers see traffic signs and potential hazards so they can react appropriately. Distracted drivers miss the information they need to drive safely, sometimes resulting in severe and fatal traffic accidents.
Facts About Distracted Driving
The use of cell phones and texting have become the focus of research about distracted driving. Researchers continue to study risks associated with distracted driving from a variety of positions. Specifics differ with each research endeavor, but all projects reveal the dangers of driving while distracted. Here are some of the most alarming research findings in recent years:
- The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that texting removes a driver’s eyes from the road for five seconds; the same time it takes to drive the length of a football field when traveling 55 mph.
- Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University examined brain activity in distracted drivers and found that conversations with others while driving reduces brain activity by almost 40 percent in comparison to driving solo.
- A 2018 study by researchers at the University of Utah found that progThe teamming navigation devices causes more injuries than texting.
California Distracted Driving Laws
In an effort to reduce accidents, injuries, and fatalities caused by distracted driving, California has implemented distracted driving laws barring cell phone use while driving. The following California distracted driving laws apply when you operate a motor vehicle:
- No texting.
- No checking email.
- No use of webs or apps, such as shuffling through music.
- No checking social media accounts.
- Hands free use to make a call is permitted.
- Drivers under age 18 are prohibited from using a cell phone for any reason when operating a motor vehicle.
Compensation for Injuries From Distracted Driving Accidents
In California, a distracted driver who causes an accident has legal liability for damages. Your first step to recover your economic losses after an accident is to file a claim with your insurance carrier. Even though you aren’t at fault, you typically need to report the accident to your carrier when your coverage might apply. If it pays your claim, your carrier may then seek reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier.
In the event that the driver is underinsured, uninsured, or leaves the scene of the accident, your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage will kick in. California law requires uninsured motorist coverage, so it’s likely you have this; however, you may not have underinsured coverage.
In either case, if your or the at-fault driver’s insurance refuses to settle your claims for adequate amounts of money, you may have to take legal action to recover the compensation you deserve.
Hiring an experienced San Jose distracted driver accident lawyer will give you the best chances of recovering the most amount of damages after an accident. If your attorney negotiates a fair settlement or the court rules in your favor when you sue for damages, you might recover the following losses:
- Medical expenses including ambulance rides, emergency department visits, hospital stay, radiology, aftercare, and medication
- Future medical costs when an injury results in permanent disability or requires extensive recovery time
- Lost wages when an injured person misses work due to hospitalization and recovery
- Future lost wages, also referred to as lost earning capacity, when a severe or catastrophic injury prevents one from returning to work or forces a change in career
- Rehabilitation costs including physical therapy and assistive devices such as crutches, artificial limbs, and wheelchairs
- Pain and suffering related to the injury
- Loss of consortium with a spouse as a result of a severe injury
- Scarring and disfigurement when severe injuries leave scars from burns, deep lacerations, and loss of limbs
In the event you have lost a loved one in a distracted driving accident, you will need to consult a San Jose distracted driver accident lawyer who has dealt with wrongful death claims. California has two different pathways to sue for damages after a loved one dies based on the relationship with the deceased. Your attorney can advise you on which type of wrongful death claim applies to your circumstances.
How to Prove the Other Driver Was Distracted
Determining liability in a motor vehicle accident isn’t always an easy task, but it is a necessary one. Insurance companies will diligently investigate the accident to determine fault. Your attorney will also investigate to uncover as many facts as possible to support your case. Prevailing in your case requires your attorney to prove that the other driver was negligent, specifically that a distraction caused the accident. For example, your attorney might prove the driver was distracted in one or more of the following ways:
- The driver admits fault at the scene of the accident or later on. Although this isn’t likely, it does happen on occasion.
- Witnesses confirm facts of the case. Your attorney can secure statements and testimony from eyewitnesses to suggest fault in a motor vehicle accident.
- Video surveillance from traffic or security cameras might provide evidence of fault.
- Cell phone records might provide evidence of a text or call when cell phone usage caused a distraction leading to the accident.
Contact a San Jose Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer
When drivers make poor choices that harm others, they must be held accountable. You deserve full and fair compensation for your injuries and losses, so you can move on with your life. Let an experienced personal injury attorney deal with the details of your case, while you focus on healing and recovery. Contact a San Jose distracted driving accident lawyer with Golden State Lawyers, APC. We will fight for fair compensation from the at-fault driver. Call us at (408) 279-4222 or contact us online to schedule a free, no obligation consultation. If you choose us to represent you, we handle cases on a contingent fee basis, collecting attorney fees from any compensation we secure for you.