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Can You Prove Distracted Driving in a Personal Injury Claim?

May 27 2020 | Blog
  • Without a doubt, distracted driving is one of the greatest threats to traffic safety on American roads. What are your legal options if you are injured in an accident where a driver’s distraction might have been a factor? Read on to find out.

    In a world where distraction is not only abundant but also ever-present, the ability to focus on one demanding task is a precious and increasingly endangered skill. Unfortunately, indulging in distraction, however pleasant it may feel in the moment, can have all sorts of negative consequences for both individuals and society as a whole. 

    For example, as shown by research conducted by The Economist, the US economy loses some $650 billion in workers’ productivity each year due to social media distraction. In other words, $4,500 is lost per worker per year.

    And yet, while these economic losses may seem enormously high, the cost of engaging in distraction can be even higher. In fact, distraction can be deadly. According to data published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving killed 2,841 people in 2018 alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention further estimates that every day “in the United States, approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 [are] injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.”

    Sadly, both Kentucky and Tennessee seem to take the lead when it comes to this worrying national trend. Kentucky is one of the deadliest states for drivers overall, while Tennessee has actually ranked first in distracted driving with 7.2 distracted driving deaths per 10 billion vehicle miles. In fact, statistics from a few years ago show that, in Kentucky, there can be as many 53,500 crashes resulting in over 14,000 injuries and 169 fatalities due to distracted driving in a given year.

    Getting into a car crash caused by a distracted driver is, therefore, a real and sobering possibility in our states. A person injured in such an accident has a chance of obtaining financial compensationbut it may depend on the ability to prove that drivers’ distraction was indeed a factor that led to the crash. In this article, we will see how you can achieve this.

    Recognizing Distracted Driving

    In order to be able to prove a distracted driving claim, it is first important to know and be able to recognize what distracted driving is. 

    Most people associate distracted driving with the use of mobile devices. Indeed, this can be much more dangerous than most drivers recognize. For example, reading or sending a text message may seem innocent as it is brief, usually taking no longer than a few seconds. However, at the speed of 55 mph, a car covers the length of a football field in as little as 5 seconds. It is not difficult to see, then, that drivers who take their eyes off the road to send or read a text put themselves and other road users in extreme danger.

    Dangerous though it may be, the use of cell phones and other mobile devices isn’t the only kind of distraction many drivers engage in. The CDC recognizes three basic kinds of driver distraction:

    • Visual: Taking your eyes off the road
    • Manual: Taking your hands off the driving wheel
    • Cognitive: Taking your mind off of driving

    Using this distinction, it is easy to identify actions that are distracting and can be potentially dangerous even though many drivers may not recognize the risk. Such actions include:

    • Eating or drinking
    • Applying makeup or grooming oneself
    • Adjusting the GPS
    • Fiddling with the radio
    • Having a conversation with the passengers

    How to Prove Distracted Driving

    Admittedly, proving that the at-fault driver caused the accident because he or she was driving distracted may be challenging. After the crash, there may be no material evidence left pointing to distracted driving. 

    Nevertheless, there are still a few effective strategies that can be used to prove your distracted driving claim. These may include:

     

    • Obtaining the police report of the accident: The police are usually called to the scene of the accident when it results in bodily injury or significant property damage. Their police report may be useful to you, as it may include the police officers’ perception of the accident and its causes along with any statements made by the at-fault party. Both categories of data may either directly state that driver distraction was the cause of the accident or strongly point to such a possibility.
    • Witness testimonies: If any witnesses were present at the time of your accident, those who were close enough to the scene of the crash may testify whether or not the other driver engaged in any kind of distraction.
    • Cell phone records: If there is some circumstantial evidence that the at-fault driver might have been distracted at the time of your accident, the injured party’s lawyer may obtain the person’s cell phone records via a subpoena. The data will show whether he or she sent text messages or was talking on the phone when the crash occurred.
    • Social media use: It is prudent to investigate the other driver’s social media, which may indicate smartphone use at the time of the accident with time-stamped messages, likes, posts, etc. that were posted when your accident occurred.
    • Video footage: Video recordings from dashcams, smartphones, or even traffic and CCTV or other security cameras may show the at-fault driver was distracted at the time of the crash.
    • Admission of distraction: In rare cases, the at-fault driver may, either directly or indirectly, admit to having been distracted in a way that led to your accident.

     

    Distracted driving is an extremely dangerous practice that causes thousands of fatal accidents on US roads every year. Therefore, this negligence merits the full penalty of the law while those who were wrongfully injured as a result of driver distraction deserve financial compensation for their injuries. 

    If you would like to obtain more information about how a personal injury lawyer may help an accident victim obtain compensation through a personal injury claim, please visit our dedicated car accident page.

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