The Legal Ramifications of Distracted Driving: Texting, Eating, and More
Car Accident |May 26th, 2023
From 2016-2020, distracted driving, whether inside or outside the vehicle, led to the death of 193 individuals in Louisiana. In the year 2020 alone, another 23,010 people sustained injuries.
When people hear ‘distracted driving,’ they often think of texting. However, distracted driving involves more than just using a phone. There are three main types of distractions: manual, visual, and cognitive. Manual distractions occur when a driver takes their hands off the wheel, perhaps to eat or change the radio station. Visual distractions happen when drivers take their eyes off the road, such as looking at a GPS. Cognitive distractions occur when the driver’s mind isn’t focused on driving, maybe due to stress or daydreaming. Even a combination of these distractions can happen at once.
Louisiana has implemented laws prohibiting texting for all drivers, restricting hands-free usage in school zones, and disallowing any cell phone usage (unless it’s hands-free) for individuals holding a Class “E” learner’s or intermediate license. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a study revealing that driver distraction is a factor in 60% of teen crashes, and over half of teen drivers admitted to using their cell phones while driving. Additionally, over a quarter of them reported texting while driving in the previous 30 days. However, it’s not just about legal consequences. When a driver becomes the cause of an accident due to distraction, they may be held financially responsible for the damage and injuries that occur. The outcome can be a daunting financial burden, emphasizing the importance of adherence to these laws.
Establishing Fault in Distracted Driving Accidents
In the aftermath of a car accident, one key question arises: who is at fault? For cases involving distracted driving, establishing fault can be complex. It generally involves collecting evidence that shows the other driver was not paying full attention to the road. This evidence can come from various sources, such as eyewitness accounts, police reports, traffic camera footage, or even the driver’s own admission. If it’s proven that the other driver was indeed distracted, they may be held responsible for the accident. This could mean that they are liable for damages, including medical expenses and property damage related to the accident.
Decoding Police Reports: Understanding How Evidence of Distracted Driving is Documented
After a car accident, a police report is typically generated. This report can provide a wealth of information, including crucial evidence of distracted driving. The officer might note if they observed a driver’s phone in use at the accident scene, or whether the driver admitted to eating, applying makeup, or performing other tasks while driving. Witnesses’ statements, also included in the report, might further support these observations. A careful examination of the police report can reveal such evidence, which can be crucial in establishing fault.
How Comparative Negligence Affects Distracted Driving Cases in Louisiana
In Louisiana, a rule called “comparative negligence” applies in car accident cases. This means that if a person is partially at fault for the accident, their compensation for injuries and damages may be reduced by their percentage of fault. For example, if a driver was distracted but the other driver was speeding, both could share the blame. If the distracted driver was found to be 40% at fault, they would only be eligible to recover 60% of their total damages. This rule is significant for those involved in a distracted driving case, as it emphasizes the importance of demonstrating the other driver’s level of distraction and its contribution to the accident.
Gathering Evidence: The Role of Technology in Proving Distracted Driving
Technology has become a critical tool in gathering evidence to prove distracted driving. For instance, cell phone records can indicate whether a call or text message was sent or received at the time of the accident. Dashcams and security cameras may also capture valuable footage showing the driver’s behavior prior to the crash. Modern cars often contain an Event Data Recorder (EDR), similar to an airplane’s black box, which can provide crucial information about the car’s operations before the collision. Data such as speed, brake application, and steering angle can indicate distracted driving patterns. All these technological advancements aid in painting a clearer picture of events leading to an accident.
From Medical Bills to Lost Wages: Understanding the Compensation You Can Claim
After a car accident, especially one resulting from distracted driving, individuals may face various financial challenges. However, it’s crucial to remember that there’s potential to claim compensation to cover these expenses.
The foremost consideration often revolves around medical expenses. Immediate costs such as ambulance charges and emergency room fees are coupled with long-term expenses that may include treatments, surgeries, and physical therapy sessions. The cost of medications and necessary medical equipment, like wheelchairs or braces, should also be included in this category.
Another major component to consider is lost income. If the injuries from the accident cause the individual to miss work, they may be entitled to claim for the wages lost during that time. In cases where the injuries severely impact future earning capacity, the individual could potentially claim for future lost income as well.
Significantly, compensation for property damage should also be considered. If the individual’s vehicle was damaged, the costs for repair or replacement could be claimed. This can extend to any personal belongings that were damaged in the accident, such as electronics or personal items.
Lastly, there are non-economic damages to consider. These include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. Although more subjective and challenging to quantify, these damages are real and potentially as impactful as the more tangible costs.
Pursuing a Personal Injury Case in a Distracted Driving Accident
After a distracted driving accident, there are key steps to take in pursuing a personal injury case. First, seek immediate medical attention and ensure all injuries are documented. Secondly, report the accident to the police and obtain a copy of their report. Gather as much evidence as possible, such as photographs of the accident scene, witness testimonies, and any available technological data. If possible, establish if the other driver was distracted. Lastly, file a claim for compensation, detailing all physical, emotional, and financial damages suffered. Understanding these steps can aid in the pursuit of rightful compensation.
If you have been involved in a distracted driving car accident, contact Alvendia Kelly & Demarest today at 504-200-0000 to schedule a free consultation.