Even though distracted drivers who cause accidents may face the criminal penalties of Indiana’s laws, this doesn’t 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.
“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.”
How to Prove Distracted Driving Caused the Crash
So, how can you show that another driver was distracted at the time of your accident? Here’s a list of six ways:
- Police report – If you saw the other driver chatting on a cell phone prior to the collision, let the investigating police officer know that. This documented report can be used in court.
- The driver admitted it – While it’s not advisable to admit fault of for an accident, some people blurt it out: “I’m so sorry. I was texting when I ran the red light.”
- Witnesses – You can subpoena witnesses to testify about seeing any distracted-driving behaviors.
- Cell phone records – Cell phone records can be obtained and used as 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 specialists.
Damages in a Distracted Driving Case
Damages in a distracted driving case include monies for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. You may even be entitled to punitive damages. These are additional monies for extreme negligence. You also have the right to sue the employer of a distracted, at-fault driver in the event that they were driving a bus, 18-wheeler or other commercial vehicle. In the case of a fatality, the estate of the deceased can recoup monies for funeral expenses, medical expenses and loss of companionship.
Your distracted driving accident lawyer will review your medical and employment records, medical documentation of the seriousness of your injuries, emotional suffering and other relevant issues to determine the demand of monies in a personal injury lawsuit due to distracted driving. Your lawyer will also do a comprehensive accident scene investigation, including speaking with law enforcement. An accident reconstruction specialist may be hired when needed.
Often, cases of texting and cell phone usage are instances of aggravated liability and involve more than just ordinary negligence. Many distracted driving cases involve the need for special investigations. For example, a specialist may be needed to attain cell phone data from the appropriate cell phone carriers and to preserve evidence.
What Distracts Drivers?
Any number of things can take our attention away from the road:
- Eating or drinking
- Dealing with children or pets
- Consulting maps or GSP navigation systems
- Adjusting the radio
- Watching videos
- Talking to passengers
- Applying makeup.
How Many Accidents Are Caused by Distracted Driving?
Distracted Driving Accidents in Indiana
According to the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI), distracted driving contributed to over 9,000 vehicular accidents in 2014. Factors for distracted driving accidents include cell phone use, consulting GPS systems, tuning the radio, applying makeup, drunk driving and drowsiness. Commercial truck drivers in Indianapolis often suffer from driver fatigue.
According to the NHTSA, in 2011, motor vehicle crashes across the country involving a distracted driver killed 3,331 and injured 387,000. Viewed only from a statewide perspective, the statistics are just as alarming. In the state of Indiana, distracted driving contributed to more than 9,000 motor vehicle accidents in 2011, according to the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI).
How Distracted Driving Factors Cause Accidents
Drowsy driving can be as deadly as drunk driving. Drivers who are tired can have delayed reactions, veer off 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. In Indiana, there were 124 fatalities and 2,044 non-fatal injuries linked to collisions with at least one alcohol-impaired driver or non-motorist in 2014. And the likelihood of alcohol-impaired fatal collisions was greatest in suburban areas and city areas like Indianapolis in 2013, where 17 percent of fatal collisions involved at least one alcohol-impaired driver. Alcohol impairs the ability to operate a vehicle safely.
17-year old Maria Droesch 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. Just like using a cellphone and texting while driving, behaviors like applying makeup and tuning the radio take the driver’s attention off of the road and can easily cause a crash.
Distracted Driving Accidents Caused by Cell Phones
A particular form of distraction has become a factor in increasing numbers of distracted driving accidents, and that’s talking or texting on the cell phone. Of the 9,000 Indiana accidents in 2011 attributed to distracted driving, more than 1,000 involved the use of a cell phone. Texting while driving makes a driver 23 times more likely to be in a collision.
When the cell phone is used for sending or receiving a text message, the driver’s eyes are diverted for an average of 4.6 seconds, the NHTSA says. In that length of time, a car traveling at 55 mph will have traveled 100 yards, or the length of a football field. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute reports that texting behind the wheel makes a driver 23 times more likely to be in a crash.
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 cell phones in any manner while driving.
When Others Breach Their Duty, We Keep Ours
Under the law, distracted driving involving the use of an electronic device behind the wheel may be considered reckless driving or negligent operation of a motor vehicle. Parties who have suffered injury or property damage or the loss of a loved one have a right to be made financially whole.
How Our Attorneys Can Help
It’s pretty simple. An individual cannot safely operate a vehicle while drunk, drowsy, texting, using a cell phone 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. Contact the experienced team at McNeely Stephenson today.