Distracted driving is a common cause of car accidents in New York. The problem is not unique to the roads and highways of New York and Long Island, however. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data highlights just how pervasive and deadly this issue is. In 2019, 3,142 died in distracted-driving-related accidents in the United States.
New York is a no-fault insurance state, which means that drivers carry personal coverage to protect themselves in the event of an accident. However, there are some circumstances in which you may wish to bring a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver. To do this successfully, you will need to both surpass New York’s no-fault threshold and need to be able to prove fault on the part of the other driver.
If you’ve sustained a serious injury in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, then you may be entitled to collect compensation to cover the cost of medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and more. Contact one of our dedicated car accident attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C. to discuss your legal options.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving occurs when a driver gets distracted by another activity while driving, causing them to take their attention off the task of driving.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has broken down distracted driving into three categories:
- Manual – Manual distractions cause a motorist to take their hands off the wheel while driving. This could include adjusting the radio or rummaging around for an item.
- Visual – Visual distractions cause drivers to take their eyes off the road and include activities like watching videos, reading, and looking at billboards.
- Cognitive – Cognitive distractions cause drivers to take their minds off the road. This could involve things like talking to other passengers and daydreaming.
Some distracted driving activities, such as texting, combine all three types of distracted driving. Texting is one of the most common driving distractions in the age of the smartphone. Texting causes drivers to take their hands off the wheel, and their eyes and mind off the road, making it extra dangerous to drivers, passengers, and other motorists they share the road with.
Common Types of Driving Distractions
Let’s briefly take a look at some of the most common types of driving distractions. They include:
- Talking on the phone using a handheld phone
- Adjusting the radio
- Navigating with e GPS while driving
- Taking photos and videos
- Playing games on a handheld device
- Eating and drinking while driving
- Scrolling through a handheld device for music, photos, and videos
- Holding a pet
- Personal grooming
- Talking to passengers
- Checking weather and traffic reports
Distracted driving doesn’t only occur inside the car but can also occur outside of it. Anything that causes a driver to take their attention off the road qualifies as a distraction. Outside distractions may include:
- Construction zones
- Road hazards
- Car accidents
How Can I Prove That a Driver Was Distracted?
To prove that the other driver was distracted, your car accident attorney might take the following steps:
Secure Photo and Video Evidence
If you are able, take photos and videos at the scene of the accident. Not only can you use this evidence to document your injuries and property damage, but it can serve as irrefutable proof of fault. Surveillance video footage from nearby buildings, in particular, may reveal that the at-fault driver was distracted at the time of the accident. If there are tire skid marks on the ground, that could serve as proof that the driver did not anticipate having to slow or stop their vehicle due to a road obstruction and thus may not have been paying attention at the time of the accident. Your attorney may also be able to use other tactics like crash reconstruction to help bolster your case.
Check Cell Phone Data
Texting is one of the most common distractions that cause drivers to take their eyes and focus off the road. Using handheld mobile devices while driving has increasingly become an issue, particularly among young people. Your attorney may be able to subpoena the other driver’s cell phone records via their cell phone company, which may show that the driver was using their phone at or around the time of the crash. If the cell phone records demonstrate that the driver sent a text, opened an email, took a photo, or was doing some other activity at the time of the crash, that can provide irrefutable proof of fault.
Review Witness Testimony
If there were eyewitnesses at the accident scene, then your attorney can call on them to give statements. If any bystanders saw the distracted driver engaging in activities such as texting or eating and drinking, then their testimony could provide valuable evidence to support your case. When law enforcement initially attends the scene, they will usually make a detailed report that includes the names and contact information for any witnesses to the accident. Your attorney can use this report to request official statements from witnesses and can even have them testify in court.
Get the Police Report
You should make sure to call 911 directly after an accident occurs, even if you “feel fine.” Law enforcement will come down to the scene of the accident and will make a report that includes information like driver statements and contact info, witness statements and contact info, a description of the crash, an initial determination of fault, and other pertinent information. Your attorney can use this report to reach out to witnesses and provide additional evidence to support your case.
Consult With a Crash Reconstruction Expert
Your attorney may also wish to hire a crash expert to testify in support of your case. Crash experts may conduct crash reconstruction and can also attest to the defendant’s distracted driving in front of a judge. Ultimately, consulting with a crash expert can help add credibility and authority to your case.
Consult with an Attorney
If you’ve been in an accident caused by a distracted driver in New York, reach out to one of our attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C. today. We will review your case, discuss your legal options with you, and help you seek the compensation you need to recover after an accident. Contact us today for a free consultation!
Proving distracted driving is not easy, and bringing a personal injury case against a driver in New York can be difficult due to the state’s no-fault insurance laws. If you wish to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver, you will need to have sustained what the state of New York defines as a serious injury. These injuries include:
- Wrongful death
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent loss of use of a bodily organ, member, function, or system
- Permanent limitation of use of a bodily organ or member
- Significant limitation of use of a body function or system
- Temporary injuries that prevent a person from doing normal day-to-day activities for at least 90 of the 180 days following the accident
Injured in an Accident? Contact Finz & Finz, P.C.
If you were injured in a collision involving a distracted driver in New York or Long Island, contact the car accident lawyers of Finz & Finz, P.C. right away for help. We’ll provide you with a free consultation, so contact us by phone at (855) TOP-FIRM or reach out to us online now.