Distracted Driving Accidents on the Rise
Distracted driving is dangerous behavior and one of the leading causes of serious and deadly car accidents across the country. Across the United States, legislators have begun to acknowledge the dangers of driving while distracted and the majority of states, including Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey, have adopted laws banning texting while driving. Distracted driving is nothing new. Since the advent of vehicles, drivers have been distracted by sights and sounds from the outside– billboards, reading bumper stickers, the actions of other drivers and pedestrians, and more.
Unfortunately, the problem isn’t going away. And with the introduction of constantly changing technology, it is only getting worse.
$32 Million Wrongful Death
$26 Million Truck Accident
$17.5 Million Car Accident
$12 Million Product Liability
$9 Million Truck Accident
$8 Million Truck Accident
$8 Million Truck Accident
$7.5 Million Auto Accident
$6.9 Million Garbage Truck Accident
$6.5 Million Traumatic Brain Injury
$5 Million Medical Malpractice
$5 Million Bus Accidents
Distracted driving is one of the most common reasons for traffic injuries and fatalities. During 2020, 3,142 people (drivers, pedestrians, passengers, and bicyclists) died due to distracted driving accidents.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a motor vehicle accident involving a distracted driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering. The insurance companies will have a team of skilled lawyers on their side and you deserve an experienced law firm on your side protecting your rights and advocating for your best interests.
Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys has more than 60 years of handling car accident cases for clients throughout Pennsylvania. Our distracted driving accident lawyer is ready to hear your case. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, injured parties have only two years to file a personal injury lawsuit involving a distracted driver. Contact Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys now for a free consultation.
What Is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving occurs when the driver attempts to engage in any other activities while driving a vehicle. It’s not just text messaging; numerous distractions can take a driver’s attention from the road, including conversations with passengers in the car, children in the backseat, eating and drinking, using a navigation system, or even using the radio. However, the leading culprit of driver distraction these days is using a cell phone for calls or reading or answering texts or emails while driving.
What Causes Most Distracted Driving Accidents?
Distracted driving accidents are as diverse as the number of drivers on the road and distraction falls into three main categories:
- Visual: taking your eyes off the road
- Manual: taking your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive: taking your mind off driving
However, the following actions are responsible for most incidents:
- Reaching for objects or children in the back seat
- Programming or reading a GPS/navigation app
- Adjusting the radio or climate controls
- Eating or drinking while driving
- Reading or responding to emails or social media messages
- Browsing/using social media
- Watching or creating videos on phones or other devices
Many drivers think that a quick phone conversation or a brief text or social media message is harmless because “it will only take a minute.” But in reality, it only takes a fraction of a second for a distracted driver to get into an accident, and the consequences can last a lifetime.
What Are the Most Common Injuries in Distracted Driving Incidents?
Thousands of people each year are injured in distracted driving accidents. Some victims sustain life-threatening injuries and injuries that result in permanent disabilities. Victims who sustain catastrophic injuries in distracted driving accidents can suffer for the rest of their lives because of the acts of careless individuals.
Per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website:
- In the United States in 2019, over 3,100 people were killed and about 424,000 were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver.
- About 1 in 5 of the people who died in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2019 were not in vehicles―they were walking, riding their bikes, or otherwise outside a vehicle.
Common injuries caused by distracted drivers include, but are not limited to:
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injury
- Back, neck (including whiplash), and shoulder injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken ribs
- Internal bleeding/organ damage
If you have been injured in a distracted driving accident, you are entitled to compensation for your medical costs and other financial and non-economic damages. Having an experienced accident attorney on your side greatly increases your chance of recovering compensation for damages resulting from the accident. We will work with you and your doctors as a team to carefully document your injuries and damages related to a personal injury claim.
The facts about distracted driving including cell phone use are sobering.
Distracted Driving by the Numbers:
In 2020, 3,142 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers nationwide.
An observational study using dash-cam footage found 68% of crashes involved some form of observable distraction (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, 2016).
The percentage of drivers who report sending or reading a text message while driving in the last 30 days: 65-84% among teens and young adults, and 30-39% for the general population (AAA, 2020).
In 2021, there were 12,703 distracted driving accidents including 58 fatalities in Pennsylvania.
In a study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, researchers found drivers can experience a “hangover effect” where the mind stays distracted for up to 27 seconds after using smartphones to send text messages, make phone calls or update social media.
The survey found most drivers (96 percent) believe typing or reading on a hand-held cellphone while driving to be very or extremely dangerous, but 39 percent admit to reading and 29 percent admit to typing on a smartphone at least once while behind the wheel within the last 30 days.
Texting while driving is six times more likely to result in an accident than driving drunk. Drivers who are talking on cell phones react to brake lights 18% slower and take 17% longer to return to a normal speed after braking.
53% of all adults with cell phones have either been on the receiving or the giving end of a distracted walking encounter.
Get the Best Distracted Driver Accident Injury Lawyers in PA
Drivers know that cell phones can be hazardous distractions on the road, but they choose to use them anyway while driving. This type of behavior is so clearly negligent that you might think an accident claim against a distracted driver would be simple to handle. However, a successful case must prove that the driver was distracted and that the accident wasn’t caused by another factor beyond the driver’s control. Insurance companies representing drivers against whom claims have been filed will try to minimize their damages by offering insufficient settlements or simply denying the claims.
The Pennsylvania car accident lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys have over six decades of experience in dealing with insurance companies and handling accident claims. We are familiar with all of the techniques that the insurance companies may use to influence you to settle quickly and for less compensation. Insurance companies have a team of investigators, adjusters, agents, and attorneys to protect them. As the accident victim, you need your own team of legal experts on your side to protect you.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident with a distracted driver, you will need qualified representation from a firm familiar with the challenges involved with a distracted driving accident. Working with the most experienced car accident lawyers guarantees that your rights will be protected.
What you need to know about cell phone use:
Pennsylvania has laws that prohibit texting and driving. If a driver acts recklessly or negligently while driving, resulting in a car accident, the driver should be held responsible for the damages, injuries and/or pain their careless actions cause.
What Are Your Legal Options After an Auto Accident?
If you have been involved in a distracted driver incident, you have three primary legal recourses:
- You can file an insurance claim
- You can file a claim against the distracted driver’s insurance company to hold them accountable for damages following the accident or you can file a personal injury claim
- You can file a claim directly against the distracted driver personally to compel them to cover damages resulting from the accident
Recovering Damages Following a Distracted Driver Accident
If you have been involved in a distracted driver accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation for economic and non-economic losses caused by the accident such as:
- Repairs to your vehicle or a vehicle replacement
- Compensation for any loss of income due to the accident such as lost time at work for injury, pain, or doctors’ visits
- Direct medical costs related to injury caused by the accident
- Pain and suffering resulting from the accident
- Loss of or damage to property as a result of the accident
- Other expenses that are related to the accident such as
- Cost of mental health treatment
- Cost of physical therapy following an injury related to the accident
- Cost of rental vehicles or other transportation costs due to loss or damage of your primary vehicle in the accident
To discover what compensation you may be entitled to, contact the experts at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys for a free consultation.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
After a distracted driving accident, one of your first courses of action will be to contact the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Please remember, the insurance company is there to protect their interests as a business. They are not on your side. Insurance companies are not in the business of paying out large rewards for settlements; their business is to make money. If an insurance company has offered you any amount of money to “settle” your case, you need to speak with an experienced distracted driver accident attorney before you accept their offer.
Why Should I Hire a Distracted Driving Accident Attorney Following an Accident?
If you or a loved one has experienced injury or damages resulting from a distracted driving accident, you need and deserve a team of experienced personal injury attorneys who understand the challenges and difficulties you now face as a result of your injuries or damages.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a car accident caused by distracted driving, you deserve experienced legal representation from a firm that understands the challenges you face because of your injuries or other damages. When drivers engage in behavior that puts others at risk, they must be held accountable – and you should not have to pay the ultimate price for their negligent and reckless refusal to follow the letter of the law.
We can help you protect your legal rights, relieve some of the burden of stress, and hold the at-fault driver accountable for their negligence.
Insurance companies aggressively investigate accident claims and they can pressure you or your loved ones into accepting dramatically reduced settlements.
Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys will handle all of your communications with the insurance company greatly reducing the pressure and stress following the accident. You can focus on getting better and getting your life back.
Your distracted driving accident lawyer will also:
- Investigate the accident and gather witness statements, police and accident reports, and medical records
- Prepare a personal injury claim, if necessary
- File insurance claims on your behalf
- Research case law and state statutes
- File any insurance claim and will manage all communications and negotiations with insurance adjusters to protect your interests
- Prepare documents necessary for the case
- Will help prove “negligence”; a crucial part of any personal injury case.
Proving negligence in a distracted driver lawsuit can be complicated.
What You Need to Know About Proving Negligence
Negligence in a personal injury case needs to be demonstrated and the burden of proof is on the injured party (the plantiff) to prove that the distracted driver was at fault. To prove fault for a car accident, insurance companies, involved parties and their lawyers will depend on the legal concept of “negligence”.
Legally speaking, negligence is any careless conduct that causes harm to another person. In a car accident, a person can be negligent by doing something that he or she should not have done (such as texting while driving), or by failing to do something that he or she should have done such as stopping for a red light or brake lights or a pedestrian.
Essentially, an operator of a motor vehicle has a responsibility to act in a way that avoids injuring other drivers, pedestrians or car passengers. If a driver is not acting in a responsible way and harms someone, they may be financially liable for injuries and other damages.
Other factors considered in proving negligence in a motor vehicle accident:
It is the duty of a motor vehicle operator to act in a careful manner that avoids harming others in the vehicle or on the road. If a driver fails to act in a manner that is careful and responsible thereby bringing harm to another person, this is called a “breach of duty”. When a driver allows themselves to become distracted from the roadway they have breached their duty to other people on the road
In determining whether a driver was reasonably careful, or whether they have violated, or breached, their duty, the law will compare the at-fault driver’s conduct with the conduct expected of a “reasonable person.” If the defendant’s behavior falls short of how a reasonable person would have acted under the same circumstances, the defendant has violated the duty of reasonable care. Examples of behavior expected of a “reasonable” driver can include:
- stopping at a red light
- watching for crossing pedestrians, and
- following the vehicle in front of them at a safe distance and watching for brake lights/reduction in speed
When a driver allows themselves to become distracted by cell phone use (or other actions not related to driving in a responsible manner) they have legally breached their duty.
The injured party (the plaintiff) must demonstrate that the distracted driver’s breach of their duty caused the accident victim’s injuries or damage
Damages in distracted driving cases may be both economic and non-economic damages:
Economic damages: These are objective, quantifiable damages and can include lost wages from missing work due to injury or doctor visits and subsequent medical bills.
Non-economic damages: These are more subjective and can be more difficult to prove. Having a qualified and experienced accident attorney on your side will help you understand non-economic damages such as:
- Emotional distress also known as mental anguish– This is legally defined as “a highly unpleasant emotional reaction (as anguish, humiliation, or fury) which results from another’s conduct and for which damages may be sought.”
- Pain and suffering– This can include physical and mental pain
- Lost or diminished earning capacity– This can be any decrease in income as a result of an injury that affects your ability to continue doing your current job or robs you of career prospects for the future. If you have sustained an injury, you may experience diminished earning capacity.
- Permanent damages – These are any damages that indefinitely restrict you or your loved one’s employment or other normal activities. In a lawsuit to recover damages caused by the negligence or intentional wrongful act of another, a permanent injury can be a major element in an award of general damages
- Disabilities– Any damage that substantially reduces your capacity to engage in one or more major life activities of an individual
- Psychological or psychiatric harm– This is defined as a psychological or psychiatric condition that developed as a result of a traumatic event. The condition is severe enough that it impacts your ability to perform routine life or work tasks
At Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys, our goal is to provide exceptional legal services to our clients. Our distracted driving accident attorneys strive to achieve the highest standard of excellence for the protection of individual rights through teamwork and the use of our considerable resources and experience.
To schedule a FREE consultation with a distracted driving accident lawyer, contact us by calling (844) 969-7243 or fill out our online form. We do not recover a fee unless we win your case for you.
Distracted Driving Accident FAQs
Q: What is the penalty for distracted driving in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania has a statewide texting-while-driving ban. The law prohibits drivers from using an “Interactive Wireless Communication Device (IWCD) to send, read or write a text-based communication while his or her vehicle is in motion.” The penalty is a summary offense and a fine of $50.00, plus court costs and other fees.
Q: What should I do if I get hit by a distracted driver?
If you are involved in an accident with a driver who was distracted, take the following steps:
First, seek medical attention for yourself and any passengers in the vehicle. Even if your injuries seem minor, they may become worse as time passes and adrenaline wears off. Contact the police at the scene of the crash and make sure a police report is made. The police report will be crucial to your case if you need to take legal action in the future. When speaking with the police, report the events as you saw them as calmly as possible. Do not attempt to place blame, and do not admit to even partial fault for the crash.
Take down the names and badge numbers of any officers who reported to the scene Exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver.
Do not give any statements to the insurance companies.
If possible, take photos of the scene and of the damage to your vehicle.
Contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Even if you are still in the process of getting medical treatment and waiting to hear from your insurance company, an experienced car accident lawyer can help you navigate this challenging time and guide you through the next steps.
Q: How much does a distracted driving car accident lawyer cost?
When you’ve been hurt in a serious car accident, the last thing you need is an additional cost. At Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys, we believe that all people should have equal access to top-notch legal representation, regardless of income and wealth. When you hire a car accident lawyer at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys, you don’t pay anything for our services unless we win your case.
Q: How long do I have to file a lawsuit against a distracted driver?
The statute of limitations for injury claims in Pennsylvania is two years. This means you have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the distracted driver who caused your injuries. However, there are many steps to be taken before filing a lawsuit so it is in your best interest to contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
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