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Though driving is now a part of daily life for most Americans, it can be an extremely dangerous, and even fatal, activity. As such, in order to protect themselves and others, drivers need to devote their full attention to the roads when they are in car. Unfortunately, modern technology has provided plenty of distractions for drivers and these distractions are causing accidents at a higher rate than ever.
If you have been in an accident with a distracted driver and are wondering what your case might be worth, call us at (512)-246-2224 for a free consultation with a car accident attorney. If we don’t reach a favorable result in your case, you don’t owe us anything.
What is Distracted Driving?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving is essentially any activity that takes away from the task of safe driving. This includes talking or texting on the phone, eating, speaking with passengers, and anything that diverts your attention from the road. Any non-driving activity that you engage in is potentially a distraction and increases your risk of crashing.
The most alarming distraction that modern drivers engage in is texting. On average, sending a text while driving takes your eyes off of the road for about five seconds. If you are driving at 55 mph, then this is essentially equivalent to driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.
Distracted driving is one of the most pressing issues facing drivers and lawmakers in America. In 2017 alone, in fact, 3,166 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes that involved a distracted driver. Focusing on driving as your one and only priority when behind the wheel is the best way to protect yourself and the other drivers on the road.
Common Causes of Distracted Driving
As mentioned previously, distracted driving can take on a lot of forms. In today’s world, there is really no end to the possible distractions when behind the wheel. However, a few of the more common causes of distracted driving include:
Texting and Talking
This is by far the most common form of distracted driving. Texting and driving is especially dangerous because it takes your eyes off the road. However, talking, even when done through a hands-free system, can still divert your attention away from the road.
Talking to Passengers
This sort of distraction is difficult to deal with because it feels very natural to talk with the passengers in your car—in fact, you may even feel that you are being rude by not talking to them. However, it is still important to make sure that you are keeping your eyes on the road and not sacrificing safety for the sake of your conversation.
Fiddling with the radio dial or skipping to the next song on your playlist are more activities that feel perfectly natural when you’re driving in the car. However, they are still distractions. Make sure that you only make adjustments while the car is stopped, or better yet, have a passenger control the music.
What to Do After an Accident with a Distracted Driver
After the dust has settled on your accident, it is important to complete a few key steps in order to keep yourself from getting any further injuries and to preserve any potential claim that you may have.
1. Seek Medical Attention
First and foremost, it is important to address any injuries that you may have sustained in the accident. Taking care of injuries quickly minimizes the risk that they will worsen with time. In addition, if there is a large span of time between your accident and when you sought medical attention, insurance companies or other parties in your lawsuit may try to argue that your injuries must not be very severe
2. Gather Information
Once you have addressed your medical needs, it is time to start to gather evidence that may become relevant to your case. This includes things like medical records, receipts for repairs to personal property, and evidence of lost wages or sick days used from your employer. It is difficult to determine what may become important later on, so be as thorough as possible with this step.
3. Contact an Attorney
The field of personal injury is complex, and there are a lot of potential pitfalls to fall into with any possible claim. An experienced attorney may be able to help guide you through the process and seek the maximum compensation that may be available to you.
Learn More: Why Hiring a Lawyer Will Help Your Case
Common Injuries From Car Accidents
From fender-benders to high-speed collisions, car accidents can vary greatly in type and severity. With that, the injuries that result can also vary greatly. A few of the injuries most commonly suffered in car accidents include:
Soft Tissue Injuries
The soft tissue in your body includes muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Any sudden change of speed as a result of an accident can cause damage to your soft tissue. One common example is whiplash, in which the tissue in your neck and upper back are damaged as a result of your head being “whipped” forward by a collision.
Head injuries can range from minor concussions to severe brain trauma. An important thing to remember with head injuries is that they can be caused even without any direct contact to your head. Also, symptoms can sometimes not reveal themselves until days after the accident, so it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible if you think that you may have suffered a head injury.
Scrapes and Cuts
In an accident, any object inside the car can become a projectile. A loose cellphone can easily cause a scrape or a cut if it hits your body during a collision. Also, accidents with enough impact to break a window or windshield can leave the area littered with dangerous broken glass.
How Does Distracted Driving Influence My Settlement?
In any personal injury lawsuit, you must be able to establish that the person you are suing was acting “negligently,” and that this negligence caused your injuries. In legal terms, acting negligently means that someone had a duty to act in a certain way, and failed to meet that standard. For example, everyone who drives on the road has the legal duty to operate their motor vehicle safely. When a driver does not drive responsibly and causes an accident, then they may be liable for the injuries they cause.
This is where distracted driving comes in. If you are able to prove that the driver who you were in an accident with was driving while distracted at the time of the accident, then this is likely strong evidence that they were not operating their vehicle safely. In turn, this could possibly increase the value of a potential settlement.
Read More: Can You Sue a Minor for a Car Accident?
How to File a Claim
No two personal injury claims will ever look the same. That being said, they all generally follow the same procedures.
1. Contact an Attorney
As stated before, an experienced attorney may be able to help guide you through this process. If you are thinking about filing a claim, your first step should be to consult with a car accident lawyer.
2. Evidence Gathering
Once you have hired an attorney, they may begin the process of gathering the necessary evidence for your claim. This includes going through the records that you have collected, such as medical and work records, as well as analyzing the police reports, any photo or video evidence that may be available, and contacting any witnesses who may have seen the accident.
3. Negotiate a Settlement
After gathering all of the available evidence, your attorney will begin to engage in negotiation talks with the insurance company. At this point, it is important to have an experienced attorney, as they may be able to better structure your arguments in a way that accentuates its strengths and minimizes its weaknesses.
A common question after an accident is, “What is my case worth?” While no lawyer can give you an exact figure of what your case might be worth, your “damages”, or the money that is paid out after a successful lawsuit, can generally be broken up into two categories.
Economic damages are tangible things that can be quantified fairly easily. They include things like medical bills, lost wages from being unable to work, and payments made to repair personal property.
Damages in this category are a bit more difficult to quantify. Non-economic damages typically refer to the pain and suffering that you experience as a result of your injuries. They will typically be subjectively evaluated by the jury.
Statute of Limitations
For any car accident claim, there is a period of time within which the claim must be brought. This time is known as the “statute of limitations,” and it can vary from state to state. For example, if the statute of limitations is three years in your state, then you have three years starting on the date of the accident to file a claim, or else risk your claim being thrown out. It is advisable to speak to an attorney as soon as possible after your accident to avoid running into problems with the statute.
The statute may be different based upon the type of accident, however. For example, if the victim is a minor, then the statute will typically be put on hold until they reach the age of majority (18 years old). Another example is if the accident results in a death. In this situation, the statute will typically start running when the victim dies, if it is different than when the accident occurred. The statute may also be a different length if the accident results in a death.
OUR CAR ACCIDENT ATTORNEYS MAY HELP
A car accident can change your life in the blink of an eye and leave you struggling to support yourself and your family.
Our experienced car accident attorneys will review your case and may be able to help determine if someone else is liable for your injuries and damages. If someone else is responsible for the accident, they could possibly owe you compensation or monetary damages.
If you or someone you love has been seriously hurt or killed in an auto accident, call Zinda Law Group today at (888) 659-9392 to schedule your free consultation with one of our auto accident lawyers.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.