Distracted driving was rare before about 2005. In 2016, distracted driving-related crashes injured about 391,000 people. At any one time during the day, about 481,000 drivers are dangerously distracted. The problem is worse among teenagers and young adults. Complicating the distractions, age and inexperience also play a role.
In most states, damages in a serious car crash case include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and non economic losses, such as pain and suffering. Punitive damages may be available as well.
Lawmakers across the country have reacted to the rise of distracted driving. Some states have broad cell phone laws. These states often ban cellphone usage while driving. That includes surfing the Web, using an app, taking a picture, or pretty much anything else. A handful of states, like Georgia, have broad distracted driving laws. In 2015, a Cobb County driver received a citation for eating a cheeseburger while driving.
Negligence and Distracted Driving
Victims/plaintiffs must establish all five elements of a traditional negligence case. These elements are:
- Duty: Drivers have a duty of reasonable care to all other drivers. They must watch the road, concentrate on driving, and hold the steering wheel. Cell Phones interfere with all of these duties. The idea is to follow the rules and no one should get hurt.
- Breach: The jury must decide whether or not these drivers breached the duty of reasonable care or if the behavior was not unreasonably dangerous. Was there a mistake?
- Cause-in-Fact: The distraction must directly contribute to the crash. For example, a distracted driver might lose control of the vehicle or might not see an approaching car.
- Proximate Cause: The damages must be a foreseeable consequence of the crash. It’s foreseeable that a car might veer off the road and hit a pedestrian, but a subsequent medical mistake is not foreseeable. Did this event cause this injury?
- Damages: The victim/plaintiff must suffer a physical personal or property damage injury to receive the compensation discussed above. What is the injury?
Victim/plaintiffs must usually establish each element by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. Preponderance of the evidence can be thought of like the scales of justice—imagine Lady Justice holding the scales in the air with one side tilting ever so slightly to the other. You don’t need to get all the way to the one side; one tilt is enough to meet the burden of proof.
Talk to a personal injury lawyer about your possible personal injury claim today.