While the vast majority of states now ban texting and driving, it still takes place every day. In fact, personal injury attorneys often deal with automobile accident cases caused by distracted driving. Since texting while driving is often illegal in the area where an accident happens, attorneys have increasingly been able to use the behavior as a way to prove negligence.
The problem is, proving that someone was texting when the accident occurred may be complicated. Even if the injured party actively saw the other driver texting just before the collision, the case can devolve into “he said she said” in the courtroom. Fortunately, skilled attorneys can often determine whether texting and driving was a factor in the accident, but first it’s important to take appropriate steps to win from the time the accident happens.
Watch for Signs
Most accidents happen unexpectedly but when they do, you should pay careful attention to as many details as you can. Did the person appear to be looking directly ahead at the time of the collision, or was his or her attention focused elsewhere? A person who is texting and driving will often show telltale signs, including staring at his or her lap or swerving. If the driver exhibited behavior that is clearly due to distraction, such as running traffic lights or crashing into a stopped car, distracted driving can be shown as a factor, especially if the driver made no attempt to stop.
Tell the Responding Officer
Even if there was minor damage, contact the police about the accident. In bigger cities, it may be difficult to get a police officer to respond, especially during busy traffic times. However, if you can get an officer to write up a report, you’ll have much better leverage in court. If you know you’ve suffered injuries at the time of the accident, give this information to the dispatcher to put a priority on your incident. If you suspect distracted driving was a contributing factor, mention it to the officer at the scene. That gives the officer the chance to question the driver about the behavior and at least mention it in the report. As dangerous as texting and driving can be, there are other distractions that can lead to accidents, as well, including eating, adjusting the radio, and paying more attention to other passengers than the road. Watch for these distractions and mention them to the officer.
Visit a Physician
If you’ve suffered injuries in a distracted driving accident, pay a visit to your physician as soon as possible. You’ll get the tests you need to determine the extent of the damage immediately following the accident. This information can be vital to proving they were directly related to the accident, rather than connected to something that happened in the days that followed. Attorneys may be able to compare results to previous medical records to illustrate that the injuries were not linked to a preexisting condition.
Consult an Attorney
While general accidents may be easily settled through insurance agencies, it’s important that personal injury victims contact an attorney before agreeing to what the insurers offer. An attorney can listen to the facts of a victim’s case and offer guidance on whether or not the settlement being offered is a good one. In many cases, working with an attorney can help personal injury victims get compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related costs. In some cases, attorneys may be able to summon cell phone records to prove that a driver was texting at the time the accident occurs. If there were witnesses, attorneys can pull together their statements and create a case that holds up in a court of law. With so many law firms offering free consultations, personal injury victims have nothing to lose by discussing a case with an attorney.
Texting and driving causes 1.6 million accidents each year, injuring 330,000 people. Although there are laws governing cell phone use behind the wheel, many people admit to violating those laws regularly, especially younger drivers. By watching for signs of texting and driving and notifying responding officers that the other driver may have been texting behind the wheel, injury victims can equip themselves with the information they need if they want to pursue legal action.
Dan Steiner is a veteran internet & social media marketing consultant who has worked with hundreds of brands throughout the years. He is also an active mentor and volunteer at startup events throughout California, and has been featured in a number of media outlets across the web. He is currently CEO & Founder at Avila Web Firm, an award winning web design and internet marketing firm based out of San Luis Obispo, California.