$5 million settlement
We recently won a $5 million settlement for a wrongful death & injury case to survivor due to car crash.
Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer
When you or a loved one has been hurt in an Indiana car accident caused by a distracted driver, you need professional help quickly. Understanding how to prove your claim against the person at fault requires help from a skilled car accident attorney.
At Stephenson Rife LLP, you can meet for a free consultation with a distracted driving accident lawyer in Indianapolis who will assess your case and explain your options. We are familiar with how to interpret the law to your advantage, holding those at fault responsible for their negligent actions. Contact us to schedule a meeting today.
Distracted Driving Accidents Increase Every Year
“Distracted driving” is a term that has come into common usage in the last several years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines it as “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” The NHTSA reported that over 3,500 people lost their lives due to distracted drivers in 2021.
Distracted driving is a frequent factor for those under the age of 20 who get behind the wheel. The American Automobile Association (AAA) found that distracted driving was responsible for as much as 58% of all accidents involving teenage drivers. It is also true that as people become older, they get more comfortable driving and feel they can multitask, leading to accidents.
Even though distracted drivers may face the criminal penalties of Indiana’s laws, this does not help the innocent victims who were injured or whose property was damaged in the crash. You may have lost income as a result of the accident and be facing mounting medical expenses and other bills. A civil suit against the distracted driver could put you on the road to justice.
Penalties for Texting While Driving in Indiana
Indiana is one of the states in which it is illegal to text while driving. This includes typing, transmitting, or reading email or text messages. Violators can face fines of up to $500. In addition, new drivers are prohibited from using cellphones in any manner while driving.
Factors That Lead to Distracted Driving Accidents in Indiana
Being distracted or losing your concentration is common when driving. Most people have experienced the sensation of “being on autopilot” when driving a featureless highway or during their daily commute. People may switch their attention from the task of driving, giving ample opportunity to cause harm and damage in a crash.
Some of the most common factors associated with distracted driving include:
Using a Cellphone
Under Indiana Code 9-21-59, the use of a cellphone or texting is illegal unless used in conjunction with voice-operated technology. Drivers are not allowed to use or hold a telecommunication device while operating a moving vehicle. This does not mean they will not take risks by texting or holding the phone at a stoplight or in stop-and-go traffic. By doing so, they could involve you in a crash and be held liable.
Commercial truck drivers are a special risk when they use their phones while handling a big rig. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute reports that texting behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer makes the truck driver 23 times more likely to cause a crash or a near miss.
Using a cellphone behind the wheel is often deadly. Just recently, a 17-year-old young woman lost her life due to texting while driving. While at Indiana 29 and Clinton County Road 200 North, she was texting. Due to the distraction of texting, she crossed the double yellow line into oncoming traffic. She crashed her 2000 Pontiac Grand Am, lost her life, and injured two others.
Driving While Drowsy
Drowsy driving can be as deadly as drunk driving. Drivers who are tired can have delayed reactions, veer off the lane, and fall asleep at the wheel. According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving is responsible for at least 100,000 collisions each year.
Even if a driver is not falling asleep, driving while fatigued from overwork can affect their reaction time to unexpected events on the road. Commercial truck drivers often drive for extended periods, putting them at risk of injuring multiple individuals if they swerve, drift, or drive into oncoming traffic.
Driving While Emotionally Distressed
Operating a car while engaging in upsetting conversations, whether in person or by phone, can also cause accidents. Drivers often ignore or do not see risks or hazards because they are focused on the conversation instead.
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol
Part of the reason drunk driving is so dangerous is that these drivers also react more slowly to changes on the road and are at risk of falling asleep. Both of these situations mean they get distracted easily and can crash into others, often causing severe injuries and fatalities.
Drug use can also lead to distraction issues, even with prescription medications. If the person responsible for your crash was using a medicine that clearly indicated they should not operate heavy machinery, your distracted driving accident attorney can use this to support your claim of negligence.
Along with the radio, there are numerous options for listening to music, podcasts, audiobooks, and other entertainment on smartphones. Moving between them can be complicated with hands-free technology, and some drivers may be tempted to take “just a second” to change music or stations.
However, taking their eyes off the road for only five seconds at 55 mph means they will travel the length of a football field, or 100 yards, before they look back. They can miss seeing your signal as you change lanes, impacting your vehicle and causing unnecessary harm to you and your family.
More Factors That Distract Drivers
Other potential factors include personal grooming behaviors, eating, sightseeing, and paying attention to an accident or traffic in the opposing lanes. Anything that takes your focus off the road can lead to a distracted driving crash.
Your Car Accident Lawyer Will Demonstrate How Distracted Driving Caused the Crash
When someone causes a crash, they are likely to deny they did anything wrong. They may even try to cover up evidence that could show they are liable, such as refusing to allow law enforcement officers to look at their phones after a crash. While they have the legal right to do this, your distracted driving accident attorney can use other methods to prove they are at fault.
We investigate your case and collect all relevant evidence to build a powerful claim against the other driver. We use a variety of resources to secure the necessary information, such as:
- Police report: If you saw the other driver chatting on a cell phone prior to the collision, let the investigating police officer know that. Your attorney will request the police report to use as evidence in court.
- Driver statements at the scene: Sometimes, the other driver will admit fault for an accident by blurting out: “I’m so sorry. I was texting when I ran the red light.” A statement like this supports your argument for their negligence.
- Witness statements: Your car accident lawyer can subpoena witnesses to testify about seeing any distracted-driving behaviors. This includes your own passengers and those of the at-fault driver.
- Cell phone records: Your lawyer can subpoena the distracted driver’s cell phone company to obtain their texting and call records. Showing they were handling the phone before the wreck provides proof in the plaintiff’s favor.
- Photos or videos: Cell phone videos shot by passengers, surveillance cameras, and police dash cams can catch distracted drivers red-handed. These can be used in court.
- Accident reconstruction reports: Our team maintains a network of experts who advise us in matters of injuries, auto damage, and accident reconstruction. We can hire an independent investigator to recreate the events leading up to the impact.
The attorneys at Stephenson Rife LLP are tenacious when it comes to researching all potential sources of information that can support your claim of liability against the other driver. We also create powerful arguments to prove the four elements of negligence:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care.
- They neglected their duty by engaging in distractions while driving.
- You were injured and suffered property damage as a direct result of their neglect.
- You have expenses related to your injuries and damage.
Part of the purpose of a claim or lawsuit against the distracted driver is to seek justice and acknowledgment of the harm they caused you. You should not suffer consequences for someone else’s poor choices. The other purpose of a distracted driving case is to recover financial relief for the bills and other expenses you are left with after the accident.
Damages You Can Claim in a Distracted Driving Case in Indiana
Our Indiana distracted driving accident lawyers know from experience the terrible impact and injuries these types of accidents cause. We have handled many cases where the victims suffered life-altering harm and required significant compensation to adjust to a new way of life.
Damages in a distracted driving case include monies for medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering. Damages fall into two categories: economic and non-economic. Economic losses have a fixed price tag, while non-economic losses address how your life has been affected by your injuries.
The full value of your car accident settlement varies depending on the unique circumstances of your crash. Your attorney can determine a fair and appropriate estimate after examining your situation.
Medical expenses usually form the largest part of your economic losses. Hospital bills, surgeries, follow-up treatments, rehabilitation, and any other costs can be included in your compensation demands. If you are severely injured, your attorney can help you estimate your projected care costs to allow you to heal completely. Future expenses may be for weeks, months, or years past the end of the trial.
Lost Income and Benefits
Even if your accident was a minor one, you are still likely to miss work while you get medically evaluated and have your vehicle repaired. If you are seriously hurt, you could miss weeks or months of work. With catastrophic or disabling injuries, you may not be able to return to your previous job.
Your damage claim should cover all your lost wages, as well as future income if you need extensive treatment. You should be repaid for lost benefits, such as holidays, bonuses, retirement savings, and insurance payments. Finally, if you cannot work again at any job, the person who hurt you must compensate you for your lost earning potential.
Frequently, a victim’s vehicle is badly damaged or even totaled in a distracted driving accident. Along with having your car or truck repaired, you should consider the damage to your clothing, cellphone, computer, luggage, work equipment, or any other items that were damaged in the crash.
Non-economic damages include all the ways your life has changed after a crash. You could experience any of the following conditions:
- Amputation or loss of limb
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of personal and professional reputations
- Mental anguish
- Scarring and disfigurement.
If you are temporarily or permanently disabled, you will need to adjust every part of your life. The burden will be tremendous, on top of your physical injuries. Our distracted driving attorneys in Indiana will fight to secure every penny of what you deserve from those responsible for your harm.
In the case of a fatality, the estate of the deceased can recoup monies for funeral expenses, medical expenses, and loss of companionship.
Punitive damages are awarded when the actions of the defendant were wanton, malicious, or grossly negligent. Often, cases of texting and cell phone usage are instances of aggravated liability and involve more than just ordinary negligence. The court may elect to award punitive damages to inflict a substantial financial burden on the defendant and to serve as a warning to others about engaging in the same actions.
Who Can Be Held Liable in a Distracted Driving Accident?
If your accident was caused by a single driver, it is clear who you will hold accountable. However, our lawyers have learned that a simple case is not always so simple, and others may also be at fault for the crash. Consider these possible scenarios:
- A passenger was roughhousing or physically assaulting the driver, causing them to lose concentration and control of their car
- Another driver was threatening the driver who hit you, drawing their attention away from the road as they tried to avoid the threat
- A truck driver was forced to work long hours against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations, leading them to drive while drowsy
- A driver’s vehicle begins to malfunction due to poorly performed repair work on critical systems, such as braking or acceleration.
You may have grounds to sue the passenger assaulting the driver, the person threatening the driver who hit you, and the trucking company that pushed their driver to disobey regulations. Your attorney could seek damages from the repair shop because their work contributed to the crash.
It is important to explore all avenues for liability and compensation. Your car accident lawyer at Stephenson Rife LLP will manage all the complexities of this task on your behalf so you can heal in peace.
Contact Our Indiana Distracted Driving Injury Attorneys Today
It’s pretty simple. An individual cannot safely operate a vehicle while drunk, drowsy, texting, using a cellphone, or tuning a radio. These behaviors can cause horrendous accidents with life-altering injuries.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver in Indianapolis, you have the right to demand compensation for medical costs, pain and suffering, and lost income. It’s important to hire an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you realize the full value of your claim. Full compensation means that the settlement must cover all past, present, and future damages.
Call (317) 680-2501 or use our online form to schedule your free consultation with an experienced Indiana distracted driving injury attorney at Stephenson Rife today.