It’s been said that Distracted Driving is the new Drunk Driving. As we are more and more bombarded with electronics, it becomes increasingly difficult to “unplug” and pay attention to the road. Even parents who are normally responsible think they can send a text while traveling at 55 mph.
John Foy & Associates is an Atlanta personal injury law firm protecting those who have been injured by someone else’s negligence. We’ve been in business more than 20 years and have seen the evolution of Distracted Driving. Teens were often distracted drivers, even before the proliferation of smart phones. But teens and texting have led to more accidents.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted Driving is defined by the U.S. government’s official website as “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” Using a cellphone, answering a text, putting on makeup, eating and drinking, watching a video, reading maps all add up to distracted driving. The same reports state that 10% of drivers under the age of 20 involved in a fatal crash were distracted. But it’s not just teen-agers. Ten percent of parents admit to carrying on extended text conversations while driving.
There are three types of Distracted Driving:
- Manual, taking your hands off the steering wheel
- Visual, taking your eyes off the road
- Cognitive, taking your mind off the road
How are Distracted Driving Accidents different from other auto injury accidents?
Distracted Driving Accidents are different from other auto injury accidents because they could have been avoided by different driver behavior. And unlike a driver under the influence, police have to rely on witness accounts most of the time to charge a driver with driving while distracted. Even with those limits, however, the U.S. Dept. of Transportation reported that 14% of all crashes in 2014 involved a driver using a cell phone.
Driving while texting has been compared to driving a football field length 55 mph while blind. Each text takes a person’s full visual attention for 4 to 6 seconds.
What should I do if I or a loved one has been injured in a Distracted Driving accident?
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Distracted Driving accident follow the protocol of any accident: Call the police and make a full report. This report will become the official document. Get as much information as you can, including the names and telephone numbers of other witnesses, the driver’s license and car license information, and write down if you thought the driver was on the phone, or otherwise distracted.
No matter what the other driver says, do not take their word that they will take care of everything outside of the legal system. “I don’t know how many times we’ve heard, ‘The other driver said he would pay for all my damages,’ only to have the person disappear,’’ says firm founder John Foy.
And call a personal injury attorney, even before you discuss the case with your own insurance company. You are obligated by contract to talk to your insurance company, and we want you to do so, but you should get a legal opinion first. Our Distracted Driving attorneys, at 404-400-4000, can give you a free consultation so that you know your rights.
Who can prove that the driver was distracted?
It can be difficult to prove a driver was distracted, especially when the driver is not on a cellphone. This is why it’s so important to make a police report. Tell the police officer, “The driver seemed distracted.” If you saw the driver use a cellphone or put on makeup or some other activity while driving, tell the police as well. Did any witnesses notice the same? Our investigators can build on the initial information you’ve gathered at the accident scene.
The driver’s insurance company contacted me and would like to settle the case. What should I do?
Insurance companies are always in a hurry to settle a case. In fact they are in such a hurry that they may settle long before you understand the full extent of your injuries. Once you accept that settlement, you will never be able to gather damages for your injuries, even injuries that do not become apparent for a while. Give the Distracted Driving Accident personal injury attorneys at John Foy & Associates a call at 404-400-4000. Your phone call is free and confidential. “Insurance companies treat those represented by attorneys much differently than the unrepresented,” says our firm founder, John Foy.
If I have been injured, what am I entitled to in a Districted Driving Accident case? I am entitled to more because the driver was not obeying the law?
As in all personal injury cases, you are entitled to reimbursement for:
- Reasonable and necessary medical care, including prescriptions, and physical therapy.
- Wages and income for time lost due to the injury
- Pain and suffering.
For cases in which the driver broke the law, you may also be eligible for punitive damages—these are monetary awards that are designed to punish the driver for not obeying the law. And in Georgia, it is never legal to text and drive.
What are the laws for driving and texting or talking on the cell phone in Georgia?
Each state is responsible for their own passenger car driver regulations. Teen drivers under the age of 18 and school bus drivers are not allowed to text or use their cell phones while driving, under Georgia law. While other drivers are allowed to use a handheld cellphone while driving, no one is allowed to text.
The distracted driver is an under-age teen-ager. Does that make a difference in my claim?
“Age makes no difference in a personal injury claim,” says our firm founder, John Foy. Teen-agers, like all Georgia drivers, must be covered by auto insurance. All teens must follow the same rules of the road as adult drivers. In fact, their laws are initially stricter than those of an adult driver. Georgia Provisional Driver’s License rules about who can be in a car with a teen-ager are deliberately strict so as not to distract the driver.
Do I have a time period to file a Distracted Driving claim?
The time period in Georgia to file a personal injury claim, or statute of limitations, is generally two years from the date of the incident. However, there are shorter exceptions. It’s important to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident for many reasons. First, we can get you the medical help you need with top-rate professionals. Second, as time passes, memories fade and witnesses disappear—all detriments to pursuing a claim.
How can John Foy & Associates help me?
We know your life can change in an instance. And to be injured by someone else’s negligence is serious. You need to recover damages to pay for your injuries, and yes, to replace or repair your vehicle. John Foy & Associates has been in Atlanta for almost 20 years. We’re a large well-established firm that only practices personal injury law. We don’t rush our cases because we know that your injuries may not be apparent even in the first few weeks after your accident. Our reputation is well known in the insurance world. Don’t try fighting this claim on your own. Someone will answer our phone, 404-400-4000, 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Your consultation is always free and confidential.