Distracted driving is the cause of a vast majority of today’s car accidents. If you think that you were hit by a distracted driver, Illinois law is on your side. You still need to prove that the distracted driver actually was negligent, meaning that they did something wrong. Most distractions will be legally considered to be negligent since driving requires a conscious focus. In other words, drivers are not supposed to allow themselves to be distracted from their driving.
If a distracted driver causes you a physical injury, they can be held responsible for your damages. Those damages include paying your medical bills. It can also include lost time from work if your pay was docked and compensation for pain and suffering.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is any activity that takes your attention away from focusing on your driving. Some examples include texting, talking on your cell phone, eating, talking to passengers, and changing the radio station. The latest statistics from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that 3,142 people died last year as a result of distracted driving accidents. That is a 9.9% increase over 2018.
There are three main types of distractions: Manual, Visual, and Cognitive. Manual distractions are when you remove your hands from the steering wheel, for example, if a driver bends down to pick something up off of the floor. Visual distractions are when you look somewhere else other than the road, for example, looking for something in your purse. Cognitive distractions are when your mind wanders and you are no longer thinking about driving. Texting includes all three of these distractions.
What is the Most Common Cause of Distracted Driving?
Texting, or more generally looking at a smartphone, has become one of the most common causes of distracted driving accidents. Did you know sending a text while driving takes your eyes off the road for five seconds? That’s a long enough time to drive the length of a football field if you’re driving 55 mph! The National Safety Council estimates 26% of all vehicle accidents involve cell phones. And, according to the University of Utah, cell phone users are 5.36 times more likely to get in a crash than undistracted drivers.
Texting isn’t the only distraction people partake in while driving. Here are some other common distractions:
- Using your GPS
- Talking to your passengers
- Dealing with children and/or pets
- Adjusting the radio or climate controls
- Eating and drinking
- Applying makeup/fixing your hair
Steps to Take if involved in a Distracted Driving Accident
So, what can you do if you suspect you’ve been in an accident with a distracted driver? Here is what you should do:
- Call the police – The other driver may just want to exchange information with you, but it’s always a good idea to get a police report to document what happened and determine who is at fault. This will be beneficial for you, if you need to sue the other driver for negligence.
- Gather information – You still want to ask the other driver for as much information as you can get. Get their name, make and model of the car, license plate number, and the insurance policy. Be very careful that you don’t give out information, though, especially when speaking to the other driver. Do, of course, cooperate with the police.
- Get witness statements – If anyone else is nearby, and saw what happened, ask them for their contact information. If they saw the person using a cell phone or engaged in some other distracted behavior, it will help you establish that you were not at fault.
- Go to the doctor – If you believe you’ve been injured, no matter how seriously, make sure to seek medical help immediately. You might feel fine, but it’s always better to get checked out and make sure.
- Contact a personal injury attorney – If you or one of your passengers were hurt and needed medical attention, it is possible that you could benefit from talking to a lawyer. By reaching out to an attorney, you’ll make sure all of your bases are covered. Our attorney will know what questions to ask and help you along the way, especially if you need to file a distracted driving claim. Speaking to an attorney should happen before you talk to the insurance company and definitely before signing anything!
Keep this fact in mind: 1 out of every 5 people killed in 2018 by distracted drivers were not in a vehicle, which means that it is important to watch where you are walking or standing if near a roadway. Make sure you know how to protect yourself and your loved ones. If you think that you were the victim of a distracted driving accident, don’t hesitate to give us a call!