Being involved in an accident is no small matter especially if you have been in an accident with a texting driver. Having an experienced car accident attorney can prove beneficial to your case as well as make the legal claims process easier. Reach out to one of our attorneys by contacting us. Read below on what you can do after your accident.
Texting and driving is now illegal in 48 states, except for no ban in Montana and a partial ban in Missouri for drivers 21 years of age and under.
The following federal bans are also in place to help combat distracted driving:
Even still, many drivers throughout the entire U.S. continue to tap their fingers on their phones to communicate with others while behind the wheel. During daytime hours, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that over 354,400 are holding a phone to their ear, and even more are using them in other ways.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 3,000 individuals suffer fatal injuries yearly due to distracted driving, such as texting while driving. This equates to about nine people every day.
Anything that takes a driver’s attention away from the task of driving is technically a distraction, including reading or typing a text, talking on a cell phone, using a navigation system, personal grooming or hygiene, and eating or drinking. These distractions put the driver, passengers, and others on the road at risk of serious, catastrophic, and even fatal injuries.
The problem with texting and driving is that it involves all three main types of distraction:
While looking at their phone to read or type a text, a driver can’t see the road or what is happening around them. If the driver is actively texting, their hands are busy holding the phone and typing words instead of on the steering wheel. Sending and receiving texts also involves the cognitive thought process, which takes the mind off of driving.
Being hit by any driver can take you by extreme surprise—no matter the circumstances. No one really anticipates getting into an accident. When you find out that the driver who hit you or was responsible for causing your motor vehicle accident was texting, it can stir up various emotions.
You might feel infuriated, sad, vulnerable, or simply in disbelief. It’s okay to feel whatever emotions come up, but it’s essential to leverage them to get the help you need. Don’t waste time protecting your rights.
There are two crucial tasks that you need to take care of right away:
Taking these actions as soon as possible helps protect your rights and ensures that you maximize any compensation you may be entitled to receive.
Whether you go by ambulance to the emergency room immediately after your accident or see your physician the next day, be sure to see a doctor as soon as possible. Even if you don’t feel like you suffered an injury or believe you only suffered some minor bumps, bruising, or scratches, it’s essential to get medical attention. Some injuries may not reveal pain or symptoms right away, especially in the adrenaline rush that comes with being in a car accident.
Letting a doctor formally examine you will establish in your medical record that you were involved in a car accident. Be sure to tell the doctor what you know about the accident, where you were sitting in the vehicle, what type of vehicle hit you, and where and any pain or symptoms you are currently experiencing. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that something is too minor to mention; everything counts at this point. It’s better to have it documented in your medical record and have it be nothing than not to have it documented and have it turn out to be a severe injury.
Once you are medically stable, your next task is to meet with an experienced car accident attorney. Most attorneys and law firms offer free initial consultations, so it costs nothing to have one review the circumstances of your accident. When you meet with a lawyer, they will ask many questions about your accident and injuries. If they determine they can help you and you have a valid injury claim, you can hire a lawyer to represent your case.
Most of them work on contingency fees only, which means that you only pay them once they obtain compensation for you. However, if your case is unsuccessful—meaning they cannot settle your claim or win a court award on your behalf—you owe them nothing for their services. If they succeed in obtaining compensation for your injuries, they receive a predetermined percentage of your settlement or court award for their services and fees.
Once you hire an attorney, you can focus on your healing and recovery and getting back to normal life as much as possible. Your attorney will handle the details of your case. One of these details is to investigate the accident to determine how it happened and who is responsible. Part of their investigation will involve determining if the driver who hit you was texting or otherwise distracted. They can use evidence to prove this, such as:
Obtaining proof of cell phone usage might successfully support your injury claim. However, your attorney will likely need a court order to get those records as the other driver’s cell phone company will generally refuse to release these records without one. While this isn’t a significant hurdle, it can take more time. You should also remember that some cell phone records won’t reveal everything a driver did on their phone right before the accident. For example, their records might show that they were texting, but it’s possible they were using an app to message someone.
Sometimes, but not always, a lack of tire marks on the road at the scene of an accident can mean that the at-fault driver was distracted immediately before the accident. Suppose they made no effort to stop their vehicle before the accident occurred. In that case, it’s possible that they weren’t even looking at the road. If they had been looking at the road and focused on driving, presumably, they should have immediately hit their brakes, resulting in tire tracks, to avoid hitting another car.
You should always call local law enforcement to come to the scene of your accident. They will review the scene and attempt to determine what caused the accident. Tell the officer what you observed if you saw the other driver on their phone. If the police officer has reason to believe texting and driving was a factor in the collision, they will likely put it on their accident report.
Eyewitness statements can help prove that a driver was texting and driving before a crash. Suppose there were any witnesses to the accident. In that case, the police officer can collect their names and contact information before they leave the scene. They can also take their witness statement to put in the accident report. Another driver or someone else standing nearby might have seen the at-fault driver looking down at their phone just before the accident. Your attorney can later call them to testify in court as to what they observed.
In the same way, your attorney can call any passengers in that driver’s vehicle to testify regarding what the driver was doing immediately preceding the accident. When deposed or testifying in court, the witness is put under oath and must tell the truth, making it more likely that they will admit what the driver was doing that caused the accident.
Your attorney can find out if cameras were in the area at the time and location of the accident. If so, they might get this footage to help prove your case. Whether or not footage exists will depend on where your accident occurred and how much time has passed since your accident. Unfortunately, many businesses only keep video footage for seven to ten days before recording over it or deleting it. This makes it imperative to contact a car accident attorney immediately after an accident.
Being involved in a motor vehicle accident can leave you feeling extremely stressed and with a to-do list that’s miles long. However, getting in contact with a seasoned car accident attorney should be a priority. The good news is that they can make this difficult time less stressful and take on a lot of your post-accident to-do list.
Some people have hesitations – is a lawyer really necessary? Even if your case seems straightforward, insurance companies can make things difficult. You always want legal help for your car accident claim to ensure you receive full compensation.
So why do you need to contact an attorney sooner rather than later?
Every state has a statute of limitations for personal injury cases such as car accident claims. The statute of limitations is a strict deadline. Most states have a statute of limitations between one and four years beginning from the date of the accident. However, sometimes the time frame can be paused or “tolled” in some cases.
For instance, if the claim is for a minor child or the individual who caused the accident leaves the state where the accident occurred. On the other hand, claims against the government typically have a shorter deadline—usually between six months and one year. It’s imperative to contact a skilled car accident attorney as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, insurance companies aren’t in business to protect your rights. They are in business to make money, and often, that conflicts with protecting the rights of injured claimants. However, when you hire an experienced car accident attorney, their job is to protect your rights. For instance, they will handle communications with the insurance company on your behalf. This can prevent you from giving them information they don’t have a legal right to have that can give them an advantage over you—such as medical records for previous injuries. They may also twist your words to paint a different picture of the accident than what happened.
The sooner you contact a car accident lawyer, the more you can maximize your claim value. Many insurance adjusters like to reach out to accident victims as quickly as possible. They know it’s unlikely they will have spoken with an attorney yet and probably don’t realize the true value of their claim.
If they can catch you at this point, you’ll likely be willing to settle for whatever they might offer you because you don’t know what your claim is really worth. An experienced car accident attorney will know the full value of your claim and refuse to settle for anything less unless you, as the client, direct them to do so.
Being involved in a car accident with a texting driver can change your life forever. However, you don’t simply have to sit back and accept what has happened. Instead, you can seek the medical care and legal assistance you deserve.
While taking these steps won’t turn back the clock, they will put you in the best position to receive full and fair compensation for your injuries and damages. Contact a seasoned car accident attorney today at Boohoff Law to find out how they can help you.