Distracted Driving Accidents in Philadelphia
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 400,000 Americans are injured in distracted driving accidents annually, and a further 3,000 deaths are caused by distracted drivers. The Philadelphia vehicle accident attorneys at Wapner Newman represent victims of distracted driving accidents and will fight for every penny you are entitled to under the law.
Distracted driving is performing any activity that takes your attention off the act of driving and increases the risk of crashing.
Distracted driving includes doing any of the following while behind the wheel:
- Sending or receiving text messages
- Talking on a cell phone
- Reading maps or directions
- Operating a GPS
- Eating and drinking
- Adjusting a car stereo
- Talking to passengers.
Even if an activity is legal, that doesn’t mean it’s safe. For example, even when you use a hands-free device, your attention isn’t devoted to the task of driving, making it more likely that you’ll be involved in a car accident. The NHTSA has identified three ways that using a cell phone distracts motorists:
- Manual impairment (hands off the wheel)
- Visual impairment (eyes off the road)
- Cognitive impairment (attention off the task of driving).
Texting is particularly distracting, because all three of the modes of distraction come into play. In fact, texting while driving causes the average motorist to remove his or her eyes from the road for 4.6 seconds. That’s the same as driving the length of a football field blindfolded if you’re driving at 55 miles per hour.
Distracted Driving Law in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania has a distracted driving law that generally bans all text and electronic messaging while driving. This is a primary law, which means that a police officer has the right to pull someone over and give them a ticket for texting while driving, without having to witness another moving violation.
Unfortunately, Pennsylvania has no restrictions on talking on the phone while driving, which is why some representatives have been calling for stricter laws, proposing bans on hand-held cell phones. Also, several bills have been filed which would allow cities to decide on their own whether they want to ban all cell phone use while driving.
Even without specific restrictions, anyone who causes an accident due to driving while distracted can be found negligent and be liable for damages.
Distracted Driving Statistics
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Traffic Safety Facts reported that 10% (3,050) of U.S. fatal crashes in 2012 were distraction-related. This number has been increasing, and in 2016, 3,450 were killed in distracted driving crashes. Statistics also show that one out of every four car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving, and these accidents result in nearly 390,000 injuries each year.
According to the National Safety Council, talking on, listening to, or manipulating a cell phone while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year.
Car Accidents Caused by Cell Phone Use
The increased use of cell phones, especially for texting, has been a major cause of car crashes. Careless driving caused by phone use leads to crashes in ways that include:
- driving with one hand on the steering wheel, the other on the phone
- taking eyes off the road to reach for a cell phone, dial or text
- failing to pay attention to surrounding dangers because of being on a phone
- being distracted due to involvement in an emotionally upsetting call or listening to a passenger’s phone call.
Teenagers, already prone to engaging in risky behaviors, often ignore the consequences of using their phones to text while driving. Four in ten of recently surveyed teenagers who were of driving age admitted that they had texted or emailed while driving, despite the fact that the bulk of teen deaths result from motor vehicle crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drivers aged 15-19 represented 7% of all drivers in fatal crashes, but 10% of the drivers in that age group were distracted – the highest percentage for any age group. Drivers aged 20-29 made up 23% of the drivers in fatal crashes, but only 8% of these drivers were distracted.
Due to this increased risk, Pennsylvania has additional laws on distracted driving for novice drivers younger than 18 years old. These teens and those with learner’s permits are prohibited to text or use their phones, even those that are hands-free, for voice communication while driving in Pennsylvania.
What to do After a Distracted Driving Accident?
If involved in a distracted driving vehicle crash, you should follow these rules:
- Provide any necessary help to other motorists, passengers or pedestrians that may have been injured.
- Notify 911 to report any injuries and call for medical assistance.
- Get statements and contact information from any witnesses.
- Inform police if the accident resulted in injuries, death or property damage.
- Submit a Driver’s Accident Report within 5 days of an accident, if the accident was not investigated by the police or the accident resulted in death, injury or severe damage to any vehicle.
- Get legal representation so you can receive fair compensation for any damages.
Seeking Compensation After a Distracted Driving Accident
Anyone who gets behind the wheel of a motor vehicle is required to drive responsibly and practice safe driving habits. When drivers devote their attention to anything other than the road, they must be held legally responsible for any injuries they cause and may be sued in court.
In Pennsylvania, compensated costs and losses fall into two categories: economic damages, and non-economic damages.
- Economic damages – expenses which can be objectively calculated, such as medical, therapy, and rehabilitation costs, costs of equipment such as wheelchairs, lost income, property damage, and funeral and burial costs if a death is involved.
- Non-economic damages –may include pain and suffering, the loss of enjoyment of life, and the loss of a marital relationship (consortium).
Leave It Up to Us to Determine Whether a Driver Was Distracted
If you have lost a loved one or have been seriously injured because of a distracted driver, you deserve to be compensated for the physical, emotional, and financial damages you suffered. But your case needs to be handled properly, or you may never receive the settlement you are entitled to. The experienced and compassionate personal injury attorneys at Wapner Newman have a long history of results and can help.
When suing another driver for damage resulting from a distracted driving car accident, you and your attorney generally have to prove that the other driver caused the accident due to careless driving while distracted. In recent cases, many courts have found that a driver was negligent and legally at fault for the accident because the driver used a cell phone or other device immediately before or during the collision.
However, proving another driver was distracted can be tricky, and the longer you wait, the more difficult it is to do so as evidence disappears and witness accounts fade in memory. You should contact an experienced auto crash attorney before you talk to an insurance company in order to protect your rights and maximize the compensation you receive. Insurance companies will try tactics such as trying to shift responsibility or getting you to accept the lowest settlement, and Wapner Newman attorneys have the skills and experience to help ensure you get the best settlement possible. We know how deal with insurance companies, and we work with a team of experts who know how to investigate the crash and gather evidence and testimonies to help prove that distracted driving was involved.
HOW OUR DISTRACTED DRIVING LAWYERS PROVE YOUR CASE
Proving fault in a distracted driving case can be difficult, because most motorists won’t voluntarily admit to irresponsible behavior. But the auto accident attorneys at Wapner Newman have many tools at their disposal and can obtain surveillance camera video, interview witnesses, and subpoena cell phone records to highlight a distracted driver’s negligent behavior at the time of an accident.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a distracted driver in Philadelphia, you need an experienced legal team on your side. Don’t delay. Contact the Pennsylvania and New Jersey accident and personal injury attorneys at Wapner Newman. Call 1-800-LAW-6600 (800-529-6600) today to arrange your free consultation.