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Distracted Driving Auto Accidents in California

Distracted driving is a growing problem. All across the U.S., there are thousands of distracted driving incidents taking place each year; and distracted drivers unfortunately cause thousands of deaths and injuries. There are a growing number of distractions someone could be focused on while driving, making the roads that much more dangerous for pedestrians, drivers and motorcyclists alike.

What Constitutes Distracted Driving?

Paying attention to our devices of convenience can distract us.  Distracted driving is getting worse as our lives become more interconnected with our devices. We’re relying on them for things like telling time, answering work emails, playing music, tracking our heart rate and communicating with friends and family. This means we need to look at our devices like cell phones, smart watches and tablets more often. Even when drivers are on the road, they’ll be checking their devices to see what new notifications they have on social media or what the latest breaking news is online. They may be dialing the phone, texting with friends or posting on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat while driving. This is reckless and can easily result in causing serious injuries, or even death(s).

Distracted driving doesn’t just involve looking at your phone or other devices, however. Along with the visual distractions in your car, there are also manual and cognitive distractions. You may take your hands off the wheel or your foot off the accelerator, or concentrate on a pain, or an itch, instead of paying attention to what’s happening on the road. Perhaps you’re eating a meal and some food spills so you try to collect it, or your hot coffee tips over on your lap.

If you have kids in the backseat, they may be causing a stir, and you get distracted by the noise or have to turn around to see what’s going on. Maybe they’re blaring a video or a game and you can’t concentrate. Even with stellar safety features that alert when you’re about to hit something, there is still the possibility that a very serious incident could occur based on driver error.

Statistics on Distracted Driving

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2017, distracted driving led to the deaths of more than 3,000 people nationwide. If drivers take five seconds to send a text, at freeway speeds it’s like they’re closing their eyes and driving more than the length of a football field!

Distracted driving can, at the very least, lead to someone getting injured, whether it’s the driver, a pedestrian, a motorcyclist, a bicyclist or a driver in another car. According to the CDC, in 2014, 431,000 people got injured in distracted driving incidents. A California Traffic Safety Survey from 2015 revealed that 61% of drivers said they were hit or nearly hit by a driver who was either texting or talking on a cell phone while behind the wheel.

These are scary statistics, which is why drivers have to be extra vigilant. If you were following the rules and paying attention to the road when a distracted driver hit your car, you may have gotten a slight or serious injury. At the very least, perhaps you had to file a claim with your insurance company because there was damage to your car. Perhaps you suffered a grievous injury, or lost a loved one due to another’s distracted driving.  Now, you must recover the compensation you deserve for those losses.

Distracted Driving Settlements

 Distracted driving settlements have climbed in the past few years. A distracted driver who was on his cell phone killed a bicyclist, and the family of the bicyclist received a $4.5 million settlement. In Connecticut, a woman received a $1.4 million settlement after a distracted driver who was on his cell phone hit her head on, and she sustained permanent injuries. It may be possible to get a larger settlement if one can prove that the distracted driver was actually distracted, and that they were being reckless.

Proving Distracted Driving

 A distracted driver may not own up to the fact that they were, indeed, breaking the law, which is why it can be tough to prove distracted driving actually occurred.

For instance, they may not tell you they were talking on the phone at the time of the incident. If you were in a distracted driving accident and the police were called, the police may have a record on hand that shows whether or not a driver was distracted. That driver may be more likely to admit that they were distracted to the police, or the witnesses advise the police.

Take photos of the scene of any incident, including inside the opposing driver’s car. If the driver’s cell phone was on the seat or in the cup holder next to them, this could show they were using it when the accident happened.  Food, drinks, tapes, papers, photos, videos, and other things may also be very telling.

Maybe there was a traffic camera installed or a business nearby was recording what happened. Get a hold of that footage.

Eyewitnesses are key as well. Was there another person in the car who the police or you could question? Were there pedestrians around who may have seen a driver eating while driving, looking down at their phone or generally not paying attention?

Cell phone records could be pulled as well, which would show if a driver was texting or making phone calls while driving. There are many avenues to explore f true distracted driving is suspected.

Finding a Distracted Driving Attorney

 The best chance you have of winning your distracted driving case and getting the settlement you deserve is to hire an experienced personal injury attorney familiar with these cases. They will know your specific state laws on distracted driving and think of ways in which you can prove that the other driver wasn’t paying attention when they hit you.

Plus, your attorney will likely take on the burdens of your case and needs, and then take a contingency fee out of the final settlement instead of charging you by the hour. That way, you can start to heal as soon as possible and feel at peace knowing that someone is fighting for you. You won’t have the burden of going up to bat and trying to prove your case.

Hiring the Experts at Heiting & Irwin

If you live in California – the state with some of the worst traffic in the nation – you know that there are plenty of distracted drivers on the road. Whether a distracted driver injured you or a loved one, you can turn to the experienced attorneys at Heiting & Irwin to represent you. Contact us today for a free consultation, and we’ll help you start building your distracted driving case in no time.

Dennis Stout

Dennis Stout is a native Californian with significant ties to the Inland Empire, where he continues to reside. A graduate of Upland High School, the University of California, Riverside (B.S. Economics), and the University of La Verne (J.D.), Mr. Stout has practiced law continuously since 1979. He has been married to his wife, Alicia (R.N., C.E.N., M.I.C.N.) since that same year, and they have three adult children, all of whom live in Southern California. View Attorney Dennis Stout's Attorney Bio Here.

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