What Are the Options for Distracted Driving Victims?
Technological advancements like smartphones, GPS, and other devices have flooded the marketplace, and in many ways, they have helped make our lives easier. However, they have also led to dangerous behavior, such as distracted driving. Now, more and more, we are hearing about traffic accidents that happened because someone was texting while driving or concentrating on their GPS instead of the road. Distracted driving is a problem that is not going away any time soon unless we begin to recognize its dangers and work on ways to prevent it. This not only involves raising public awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and passing laws to prevent it, but also holding distracted drivers accountable for the accidents, injuries, and deaths they cause due to their negligence.
Types of Distracted Driving
There are three main categories of distracted driving:
- Manual – Any distraction that causes a driver to take his or her hands off the wheel. Examples include texting or eating.
- Visual – Distractions that take a driver’s eyes off the road. Examples include keeping an eye on a small child in the rear of the vehicle or looking at a GPS.
- Cognitive – This involves anything that takes a driver’s mind from the task of driving. Examples include talking with a passenger or listening to the radio.
What Should I Do If I’m Hit by a Distracted Driver?
If you are in a car accident and you suspect the other driver was distracted while behind the wheel, should take the following steps:
- Call 911 and stay on the phone with the 911 operator until the police arrive
- Get the names and contact information of the other drivers and passengers involved in the wreck, as well as any witnesses
- Take a picture of their insurance information to ensure accuracy!
- If safe and possible, move the vehicles off the road
- Do not leave the accident scene until the police say you can
- If the other driver flees the accident scene, do not chase him or her
- Take pictures of the accident scene, damage to the vehicles involved, and your injuries
- Call an experienced personal injury attorney
Can Parents Be Sued If Their Child Causes a Distracted Driving Accident?
In some cases, it is possible that the parents of a minor whose distracted driving caused an auto wreck can be held accountable through a lawsuit. Generally, legal drivers who are minors are covered by their parents’ insurance policy. Therefore, the insurance company will often defend the young driver if he or she causes an accident. However, there are situations where the insurance company will not defend a driver following a car wreck and deny the claim. If the insurance company denies a legal claim, then the parents may be able to file a bad faith legal claim against them.
If the insurance company will not defend a minor who caused an accident, denies the accident claim, or the minor is driving uninsured, then another option for the victims of the car accident could be to file a civil claim against the minor’s parents. In addition, in some states there are laws that will hold parents liable if their child causes a car accident. Even in such states, parents may be able to avoid being held responsible if their child causes a car wreck:
- If the minor used the vehicle that they caused the accident with without permission, parents will often not be held responsible
- If parents do not have custody of the child, then they will generally not be held responsible for the crash
- If parents did not sign their child’s driver’s license application or later inform the state that they withdraw their support, then they may be able to avoid being at fault for the wreck
- If a parent owns the vehicle that the minor was driving at the time they caused a car wreck and knows that the minor is not fit to drive but fails to stop him or her from getting behind the wheel, then the parents may be able to be held responsible for the crash. For example, if parents know that their child often texts while driving, and they still allow the minor to drive, they could be held at fault if their child causes a texting and driving accident.
Are Employers at Fault If an Employee Causes a Texting While Driving Accident?
There are instances where an employer can be held responsible if an employee is involved in a texting and driving accident while on the job. However, there are several factors that can decide whether an employer is at fault for an employee’s distracted driving crash, such as:
- Was the employee driving a company vehicle or a personal vehicle?
- Was the employee on the job at the time of the accident?
- Did the employer allow the employee behind the wheel knowing the employee engages in activities that can be considered distractions (texting, eating, and other similar activities) while driving?
- Does the vehicle’s insurance policy provide full or partial coverage for damage to other vehicles and injuries to others (passengers, pedestrians, and other drivers) hurt in the crash?
Related: Types of Car Insurance
How Do I Prove I Was the Victim of a Distracted Driving Accident?
Proving that distracted driving led to an auto accident can be extremely difficult, because evidence that the driver was talking, adjusting the radio, or eating can leave little to no evidence. However, it is possible to prove distracted driving caused a car wreck. Here are a few ways that distracted driving accident victims and their families can prove their case:
- Video footage
- Cell phone records
- Witness testimony
- Police reports
- Police officer testimony
- Reconstruction of the accident
- Defendant admission of guilt
Discuss Your Situation with a Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer
In the aftermath of a distracted driving accident, you may have no idea what to do next. Should you talk to your insurance company about what to do? Will the other driver admit he or she was distracted and that caused the accident? Should you talk to the other driver’s insurance company? These are all questions that a personal injury attorney can help you answer. In addition, many experienced personal injury attorneys with successful track records offer free initial consultations. During this consultation, an injury lawyer will analyze your situation, tell you whether you have a valid case, answer your questions, and explain the best options for you and your family going forward.