Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is a vibrant city with a rich blend of history, culture, and entertainment. It is home to the SteelStacks, a transformed former steel plant that now offers concerts, festivals, and other events. Lehigh University, known for its leading engineering program, houses over 7,000 students within the city limits. With a thriving arts scene, diverse dining options, and beautiful parks, Bethlehem is a vibrant city that attracts new residents and tourists alike.
Interstates 378 and 78 run through the city, creating heavy traffic (often with commercial trucks) every day. With bustling highways, over 75,000 residents who commute to and from work, and young Lehigh University drivers, distracted driving can have devastating consequences on the entire community.
If you or your loved one were injured in a distracted driving accident, call the distracted driving accident lawyers at Munley Law. Our law firm offers a free consultation where an experienced lawyer will listen to your story and walk you through all your legal options. Don’t hesitate – call Munley Law today so we can start the claims process and recover the compensation you deserve.
What is distracted driving?
Distracted driving is when a driver is engaged in any other activity that takes his or her attention away from the road. There are three main categories of distracted driving:
- Visual: When a driver takes his or her eyes off the road (i.e. texting and driving)
- Manual: When a driver takes his or her hands off the wheel (i.e. when a driver is putting on makeup or eating while driving)
- Cognitive: When a driver is thinking about something other than driving (i.e. when a driver is daydreaming while driving)
What are the most common forms of distracted driving?
According to the National Safety Council, an average of 9 people died in distracted driving-related accidents every day in 2020 alone.
The most common forms of distracted driving are:
- Texting while driving
- Looking at your GPS
- Watching a video
- Adjusting music or radio controls
- Applying makeup
- Talking to passengers
- Looking at surrounding scenery rather than looking at the road
- Eating or drinking coffee
Why is distracted driving so dangerous?
Distracted driving is dangerous for everyone on the road, including drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists. If a driver isn’t paying attention while driving, it significantly reduces their reaction times. Think about it – let’s say a driver is changing the music. Their eyes are darting back and forth from the radio to the road. In those seconds that the driver’s eyes are on the radio, a car pulls out in front of them and hits their brakes. It will take seconds for the driver sees the car and slows down to a stop. In some cases, the distracted driver may never even see the car pull out in front.
Similarly, if a driver is daydreaming and a pedestrian walks out in the crosswalk, the driver may fail to see the pedestrian crossing. When a driver becomes distracted, they can very easily swerve their vehicle into a cyclist riding in the bike lane. Distracted driving is a dangerous behavior that puts everyone at risk. It’s important to maintain focus on the road, reduce potential distractions, and ensure a safe driving environment for all.
Pennsylvania’s distracted driving laws
While the state of Pennsylvania allows talking on your cell phone while driving, the law prohibits all forms of texting and driving. This includes sending, reading, or writing a text-based message, email, or similar activities. Penalties include a $50 fine, plus court costs and other fees.
The law regards this as a primary offense, which means that a police officer can pull you over and issue a citation if they observe you texting, even if you have not committed any other driving violation. If an accident occurs because a driver is distracted by his or her cell phone, they are subject to a personal injury claim that could cost them thousands of dollars.
Injuries caused by distracted driving
Distracted driving can result in a variety of injuries, ranging from minor to severe or even fatal. The exact nature and severity of the injuries depend on many factors, such as the speed at which the accident occurred, the type of collision, the safety features in the vehicle, and whether the individuals involved were wearing seatbelts.
Some of the most common injuries victims sustain from distracted driving accidents are:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Spinal cord injuries (including paralysis)
- Whiplash and other neck injuries
- Broken bones and fractures
- Organ damage and internal bleeding
- Soft tissue damage
- Cuts and lacerations
- Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
These injuries not only cause the victim extreme physical pain, but can also be an extraordinary financial burden. For example, medical expenses associated with traumatic brain injuries can cost a patient over $3 million in their lifetime. Spinal cord injuries that result in paralysis can cost over $1 million in the first year after the accident and then over $150,000 every year following.
Very few people are financially prepared for a catastrophic event. That’s where Munley Law comes in. Our distracted driving accident attorneys will seek maximum compensation so you and your family can focus on recovery instead of being bogged down in financial distress.
Distracted driving cases
Filing any type of accident claim can be overwhelming and complex, especially if you’re dealing with physical injuries and emotional trauma. A Munley distracted driving accident lawyer can make sure your claim is filed correctly and on time. Our attorneys will also make sure a rock solid case is built so you can recover compensation for your injuries.
Insurance claim vs. personal injury claim
After a distracted driving accident in Bethlehem, filing a personal injury lawsuit rather than relying on an insurance claim can be crucial in receiving full compensation for your losses. An insurance company is inclined to limit payouts to accident victims, undervalue their claim, and try to close out the claim as quickly as possible.
This is especially true when it comes to Pennsylvania’s “choice no-fault” system. Pennsylvania is one of just three states in the U.S. that offers a hybrid fault system for car accidents. If a driver opts for “no-fault” coverage, they will receive limited compensation. They also forfeit the right to sue the other driver unless their injuries meet a certain threshold. If the driver opts for at-fault coverage, they have the ability to sue the negligent driver for the injuries sustained.
Personal injury claims, especially when partnered with an expert legal team, can help the victim pursue compensation that will fully cover all current and future medical bills. Regardless of your insurance policy, call a Munley distracted driving accident lawyer for a free consultation and a fair assessment of your case.
Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence law
The state of Pennsylvania practices comparative negligence when determine fault in personal injury lawsuits. This rule allows for the distribution of fault. Under this rule, each party is held responsible for the damages in proportion to their fault. There are two types of comparative negligence: pure and modified.
Pure Comparative Negligence allows a damaged party to recover compensation even if they are 99% at fault, although their recovery is reduced by their degree of fault. Let’s take your distracted driving accident as an example. The other driver was distracted at the time of the accident. But let’s say you were speeding at the time of the accident. If it’s determined that you were 30% at fault for speeding, and the other driver was 70% at fault for distracted driving, and your total damages were $10,000, you would be able to recover 70% of your damages, or $7,000, under a pure comparative negligence rule.
Modified Comparative Negligence is a slight variation, which reduces the victim’s ability to recover damages if they are found to be equally to blame (50% rule) or more to blame (51% rule) than the defendant. Using the same scenario, under a 51% rule, if you were found to be 50% at fault, you could still recover $5,000 (50% of your damages). But if you were found to be 51% at fault, you would not be able to recover anything.
Steps in personal injury claims
Once you decide to pursue an accident claim against the negligent driver, your distracted driving accident lawyer will get to work. The first thing we will do is determine liability. In most cases, the negligent driver will be accountable for the car accident. However, if there are multiple parties involved, we will make sure that each one is held responsible for the auto accident.
The next step is filing the paperwork. In Pennsylvania, accident victims have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim. While this may seem like a long time, if you do not file the paperwork within that window, you will forego all your rights to compensation. A Munley distracted driving accident attorney will make sure the claim is filed properly and within the time restrictions.
After the paperwork is officially submitted, your attorney will get to work building your case. We will conduct a comprehensive investigation into the incident. We will gather crucial evidence, go over the accident reports, interview eye witnesses, and consult with expert testimonies.
Our lawyers are shrewd negotiators and will take on large insurance companies, defending your rights to compensation. If we cannot reach an acceptable settlement, Munley Law has the financial resources and backing to take your case to court. Our trial lawyers have won millions for our clients and are confident we can do the same for you.
Finally, we will accurately estimate the full extent of damages you’ve suffered, both economic and non economic. We will make sure you are compensated for:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Wrongful death
Call a Munley Law distracted driving accident attorney today
Let a Munley Law distracted driving accident lawyer fight for your rights and ensure you bring home the compensation you deserve. Our lawyers work on a contingency basis. That means you will not pay us a dime unless we win a settlement or verdict in your favor.
While you focus on getting your life back on track, we will focus on recovering fair compensation and bringing justice to your situation. Call today for your free consultation so we can get started right away.