Common Issues in Distracted Driving Cases
Every day, distracted drivers in the United States cause about 1,000 serious injury collisions. Hand-held cell phones cause a number of these crashes. However, as outlined below, there are a number of other causes as well.
For many people, distracted driving is a way of life. Most people multitask their way through the day at work, at home, and at school. Many drivers think they can do the same thing behind the wheel, especially if they are in familiar territory. However, as the aforementioned crash statistics indicate, that’s simply not true.
A New York personal injury attorney may be able to obtain substantial compensation in these cases. That compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may be available as well, especially if the tortfeasor was a commercial driver.
What is Distracted Driving?
Driving requires a great deal of concentration. Drivers must not only watch the road ahead of them, but they must also watch the area beside and behind their vehicles, too. While doing so, they must anticipate that the other drivers on the road may not be concentrating on driving either. Additionally, many drivers monitor their gauges and GPS navigation devices as they operate their vehicles.
Given all this ongoing multitasking, any additional task is usually the straw that breaks the camel’s back. This additional task usually involves one of the three kinds of distracted driving:
- Manual (taking a hand off the wheel),
- Visual (taking one’s eyes off the road), and/or
- Cognitive (taking one’s mind off the road).
It’s evident from this list that device-related distraction is a serious problem in New York. Hand-held cell phones involve all three types of distraction. Hands-free devices may be even worse. They are visually and cognitively distracting. Furthermore, these gadgets give many drivers a false sense of security. So, they may take dangerous additional risks.
Many other things cause distracted driving as well. This list includes eating or drinking while driving, talking to passengers while driving, and sightseeing out the window while driving.
Can I Sue Someone for Distracted Driving?
To obtain compensation in these cases, victim/plaintiffs must normally establish either a lack of ordinary care or a violation of the distracted driving law.
Taking a quick sip of coffee probably does not amount to a lack of ordinary care, even though it technically constitutes distracted driving. The same thing could be said for a casual, intermittent conversation with passengers.
However, if the coffee cup is in one hand and the driver sips continually, that behavior may constitute a lack of ordinary care. The same thing goes for an ongoing and/or animated conversation with passengers.
If the tortfeasor (negligent driver) breached the duty of reasonable care, and that breach substantially caused injury, the tortfeasor may be liable for damages.
Additionally, New York lawmakers recently approved a broad new cell phone ban. This law effectively prohibits all hand-held device use while driving. If the tortfeasor violated this law, and this violation substantially caused injury, the tortfeasor may be responsible for damages as a matter of law.
An attorney must act quickly to secure evidence in these cases. Such evidence includes phone records, internet browsing history records, and app usage records. Generally, lawyers send spoliation letters to tortfeasors so they do not “accidentally” delete this valuable information from their smartphones.
Reach Out to an New York Attorney
Distracted driving crash victims have several legal options. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in New York, contact Michael J. Redenburg Esq. P.C. Home and hospital visits are available.
In over a decade of legal practice, Attorney Michael Redenburg began his career defending cases for the clients of insurance companies. Initially defending no-fault claims at a Long Island-based law firm, he then moved on to a Manhattan-based firm where he defended the clients of insurance carriers in an auto accident and premises liability matters.