All drivers owe a duty to operate their motor vehicles safely and in accordance with traffic laws. That duty includes staying focused on the road while driving. Sadly, not all motorists observe this obligation. In the state of New York, the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee has concluded that distracted driving is the number one contributing factor to automobile accidents.
If you or a loved one have been injured because another driver wasn’t paying attention, you may have the right to seek compensation. Let the Queens accident attorneys of Miller, Montiel, & Strano, P.C. advise you.
Common Causes of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving can be visual (taking one’s eyes off the road), manual (taking one’s hands off the steering wheel), or cognitive (taking one’s mind off driving). About 3,000 people die annually due to distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These are a few specific ways in which drivers get distracted:
Cell phone use. Whether it’s texting, talking, or some other use of the cell phone while driving, this category is arguably at the top of the list of causes. Anyone who uses a phone while driving (except for a genuine emergency) can be ticketed and fined under New York law. A violation of this law that causes an accident is strong evidence of negligence.
Eating and drinking. Although fast food establishments are everywhere, motorists must be careful to not allow eating or drinking to distract them. A motorist who is more focused on food and beverage than on driving could cause a serious accident. Drivers should either pull over or wait until they arrive at their destinations to enjoy their meals.
Talking to other passengers. Even if one’s hands are on the wheels and eyes are directed to the front of the vehicle, talking passengers could easily serve as a cognitive distraction. It is the driver’s responsibility to keep distractions to a minimum and to instruct passengers to behave themselves.
Pets in the car. An unrestrained pet can quickly present a serious danger to the driver (and others). All motorists have the duty to ensure that their pets are secured and that they do not prevent the safe operation of the vehicle. Drivers can purchase harnesses and similar products to keep their pets from causing an accident.
Radio and other electronic features. Today’s automobiles come with all sorts of built-in electronic features, including radios, GPS, and charging ports. But too much attention focused on these devices may easily take one’s mind off the road.
Shaving, applying make-up, and similar behavior. The time to prepare yourself for work or a date is not while you are behind the wheel. Take the time to shave, apply make-up, and handle other personal grooming needs before you get in the car. Even a glance in the rearview mirror to check one’s hair or eyeliner could trigger a major crash.
Rubbernecking. Passing the scene of one automobile accident can ironically cause another one. So can any other sort of “rubbernecking,” which is glancing over at someone or something on the sidewalk or on the road. While it may only take a split second to do so, that’s all that’s needed to cause a wreck.
Factors that Aggravate Distracted Driving
Not paying attention to the road is dangerous enough, but certain factors can make distracted driving even more serious. A victim may suffer catastrophic or permanent injuries in these situations:
- Heavy traffic
- Rain, fog, snow, and other weather conditions
- Construction zones
- Unfamiliarity with the route or location
- The use of drugs or alcohol
- Speeding and reckless driving
- Disobeying traffic laws
The victim bears the responsibility of proving that the at-fault driver was negligent. The presence of aggravating factors like these can help the plaintiff prove his or her case. Retain an attorney right away if you’ve been injured in an automobile accident.
How Miller, Montiel, & Strano, P.C. Helps Distracted Driving Accident Victims
One of the key services that an experienced attorney will provide for you is conducting a thorough investigation of the accident to determine how and why it happened and just how irresponsible the at-fault driver was. This is the evidence-gathering phase and will be critical in presenting the strongest possible case for the maximum damages allowable under the law. Possible steps may include:
- Using a subpoena to obtain cell phone data, which could point to the driver’s negligent use at the time of the accident
- Taking pictures and video of the accident scene
- Obtaining nearby surveillance footage to see if it captured the wreck
- Interviewing accident witnesses
- Working with accident reconstruction experts to explain how the accident occurred
Your attorney will also handle all negotiations with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Insurance negotiations are delicate matters because the insurer will do everything in its power to underpay or outright deny your claim. Insurance companies use a number of deceptive tricks when communicating with victims and cannot be trusted to look after your best interests.
If the insurance company will not make a reasonable settlement offer to resolve your distracted driving accident claim, we’re prepared to take your matter in front of a jury. We have a network of expert witnesses who can prepare testimony on complicated and technical matters concerning your accident, such as the likely prognosis of your injuries and the costs associated with it. Every accident claim is different, but most victims seek such damages as:
- Medical bills, including hospitalization, ambulance, surgery, lab work, medical equipment, and other expenses
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
- In-home personal care for victims with permanent injuries
- Lost income and lost future income
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- In the event the victim dies, certain wrongful death damages
Contact Our Queens Distracted Driving Accident Attorney
Being involved in any kind of automobile accident is a frightening ordeal. But the good news is that you have a trusted legal ally in Miller, Montiel, & Strano, P.C. We represent clients from start to finish and devote the personal care and attention their cases deserve. To get started on your distracted driving accident lawsuit, reach out to us today.