Distracted Driver Claims

Serving Clients Injured by Distracted Drivers 

It is illegal for drivers to operate a cell phone or other handheld mobile device behind the wheel. However, in spite of the law, distracted driving remains a major problem. Today, distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents.

Distracted driving is dangerous not only to the careless driver behind the wheel but nearby motorists, pedestrians, and others in the vicinity. When serious injuries occur as a result of distracted driving, the victim should not have to bear the physical, emotional, and financial burdens by themselves.

If you or a loved one was injured or you lost a loved one in a crash caused by a distracted driver, the car accident lawyers at Lincoln Trial Lawyers can help you pursue maximum compensation for the losses you have suffered. 

Why Is Distracted Driving So Dangerous?

Safely driving a car requires complete attentiveness to the physical, visual, and cognitive requirements of the task at hand. Any kind of distraction that draws the eyes from the road, the hands from the wheel, or the mind from the task of driving increases the likelihood of an accident.

As such, although cell phone use is the activity most closely associated with distracted driving, a number of different distractions can cause a driver to crash. These include:

  • Talking to passengers
  • Tending to children or pets
  • Eating
  • Grooming
  • Applying makeup
  • Playing loud music
  • Adjusting the heater, air conditioner, radio, stereo, etc.

Each of these distractions can increase the risk of an accident. However, cell phone use while driving is uniquely dangerous in that it compromises the manual, visual, and cognitive focus drivers need to operate their vehicles safely.

What to Do If You Suspect Distracted Driving

If you are in a car accident and you believe the at-fault driver was texting or otherwise distracted at the time of the collision, it is important to take steps as soon as possible to start building your claim. These steps include:

1. Telling the Police Officer What You Saw

When you call 911 after the accident, be sure to ask for the police to respond. An officer will arrive at the scene to document the accident and take statements from those involved.

It is important to be honest about what you recall before, during, and after the accident. When you give your statement, be sure to tell the officer if you saw anything that makes you suspect distracted driving, such as:

  • Seeing a cell phone or other electronic device in the driver’s hand
  • Noticing the driver looking away from the road repeatedly
  • The driver is visibly eating, putting on makeup, or performing other distracting activities
  • Erratic behavior on the driver’s part, such as fluctuations in speed, sudden stopping, drifting in and out of lanes, running red lights and stop signs, etc.
  • The driver seems preoccupied with one or more passengers, children, or animals in the vehicle

Before speaking to the officer, take a moment to gather your thoughts. Report what you saw in a measured, even tone without engaging in hyperbole. The more matter-of-fact you are in making your statement, the more credible your claim.

2. Speaking to Witnesses

If anyone witnessed the accident, their account can help substantiate your version of events. Bystanders such as pedestrians and other motorists may have seen the at-fault driver using a cell phone or driving recklessly due to distraction, and it is important to speak with them about what they saw.

When speaking to witnesses, it is important not to lead them into agreeing with you. Simply ask what they saw, then take down their name and contact information.

3. Contacting a Lawyer

Once you have received treatment for the injuries you sustain in the accident, your next priority should be seeking legal representation. Experience is key in any legal claim, so be sure to ask what experience the lawyer or firm has with distracted driving accidents.

When you contact an accident lawyer, be sure to share all of the information you have about the accident. This includes:

  • Your eyewitness account and what you experienced in the accident
  • Witness statements you took at the scene
  • The police report (your lawyer can help if you haven’t been able to obtain the police report)
  • Any photographs you took at the scene
  • Copies of medical records, explanation of benefits (EOBs) from your insurance, and bills for medical expenses
  • Paystubs indicating how much you make at your job (this will help with calculating the amount you are entitled to for lost wages)

Once you hire a lawyer, he or she will act as your advocate going forward. This includes acting on your behalf in communications with the insurance company, handling negotiations for a settlement, and preparing your case should it go to trial. The lawyer you choose should communicate with you consistently on the progress of your claim and discuss your options to attain the best outcome.

DO NOT: Confront the Driver

No matter how sure you are that the driver who caused the accident was distracted, do not make accusations at the scene. Focus instead on just exchanging contact and insurance information.

Distracted driving is inherently irresponsible. It is natural to be upset and want to hold the driver accountable. However, getting into an argument at the scene won’t help. The best thing you can do is follow the steps above so your lawyer has all of the information to build an effective claim on your behalf.

Proving Distracted Driving

Eyewitness testimony, including your own, may not be enough to prevail in your claim. The lawyers for insurance companies have extensive experience finding holes or inconsistencies in accident claims and exploiting them to call into question even the most credible witnesses.

To prove that distracted driving caused the accident, our lawyers will gather additional evidence to support your claim. This may include:

  • Subpoenaing the at-fault driver’s cell phone records to show activity at the time of the crash
  • Investigating the accident site and the vehicles involved for damage consistent with inattentive driving
  • Checking data from the onboard computer that shows what the at-fault driver did (or did not do) leading up to the crash

Gathering and interpreting these types of evidence requires specialized training and skill. Lawyers at Dreyer Boyajian LLP will arrange for experts to perform these investigations and provide testimony in court as necessary.

Compensation in Distracted Driving Accident Claims

Serious injury is a common outcome in accidents caused by distracted driving. Victims in these cases may suffer brain and spinal cord injuries, broken bones, injury to the neck and back, and other forms of trauma that can forever alter their lives. In the most tragic instances, the injuries in the accident may prove fatal.

The distracted driver should be held accountable for the injuries and expenses you or your loved one has suffered. A favorable verdict or settlement in your distracted driving accident claim may compensate you for damages such as:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Diminished earnings, if your injury hinders or makes it impossible for you to return to work
  • Out-of-pocket costs for assistive devices
  • Disfigurement and scarring
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional trauma
  • Loss of quality of life

In the event of a fatal distracted driving accident, select loved ones of the deceased can pursue a wrongful death claim against the distracted driver. The compensation available in a wrongful death lawsuit may include:

  • Expenses for funeral services and cremation or burial
  • Loss of financial support from loved one’s income and other benefits
  • Loss of consortium (refers to the loss of companionship, affection, and intimacy enjoyed as part of a familial relationship, such as between spouses or between a parent and a child)
  • Medical expenses incurred prior to the death of your loved one
  • The pain and suffering your loved one sustained

In extreme instances, punitive damages may be available in distracted driving accident cases if the defendant’s conduct is considered extremely reckless or willfully harmful. The decision to award punitive damages rests entirely with the jury.

Although these damages are intended to punish the defendant for misconduct and not compensate you for any specific losses, you are still awarded the punitive damages as part of your recovery.