As you drive around White Plains, you probably see a fair number of people on their phones. Despite New York’s strict distracted driving laws, many drivers still use their phones to make calls, send or read a text, or even play a game while behind the wheel. They may also engage in other forms of distracted driving, like eating, helping out their kids, or talking to passengers.
If you were hurt in a motor vehicle accident that was caused by a distracted driver, you may be able to file a lawsuit against them. Through this type of claim, you can recover financial compensation for your losses, including property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you can prove that the other driver broke the law on distracted driving, then it may be even easier to win your case.
At the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, we advocate for injury victims throughout New York. We offer free initial consultations and never charge a fee unless we recover money for you. Reach out today to talk to a member of our legal team about your car accident claim.
How Common Are Distracted Driving Accidents?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are three types of distracted driving:
- Visual distractions: taking your eyes off of the road
- Manual distractions: taking your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive distractions: taking your mind off of driving
Some types of distracted driving – like looking at your phone to read an email – involve several types of distractions (visual, cognitive, and potentially manual distractions). The most common type of distracted driving is using a cell phone while behind the wheel – even if you use it in hands-free mode.
In 2019 alone, over 3,100 people were killed and 424,000 people were injured in distracted driving crashes in the United States. Approximately 20% of these injury victims were not in vehicles – such as pedestrians and bicyclists. These types of accidents often result in serious or even fatal injuries.
New York is one of the worst states for distracted driving. A recent study ranked NY as the 9th worst state in the country for distracted driving, with 12% of all fatal crashes from 2017 to 2021 attributed to a distracted driver.
New York has taken steps to address this issue. Under state law, drivers cannot use a hand-held mobile device while behind the wheel. This includes talking on a cell phone, composing, sending, reading, or browsing emails, webpages, or text messages, viewing or taking pictures or videos, and playing games. If a person is caught using a phone or other device while driving, they may be subject to a fine and points on their driving record.
Filing a Lawsuit for a Distracted Driving Crash
If you are hurt in a crash involving a distracted driver, you may be able to file a lawsuit against them with the help of a personal injury attorney. This type of case generally involves filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. In most situations, personal injury lawsuits are based on a theory of negligence, or carelessness.
Negligence is a legal concept that essentially means that a person failed to use the level of care that a reasonable person would use in a similar situation. The accident victim (plaintiff) has the burden of proving that the other driver (defendant) (1) owed them a duty of care; (2) violated that duty in some way; (3) caused an accident as a result of the violation; and (4) that they suffered losses as a result.
In distracted driving cases, however, you may be able to win a claim under a theory of negligence per se. In this type of case, you will prevail if you can prove that the distracted driver:
- Violated a law;
- The law was intended to prevent the type of harm that they caused; and
- You are within the class of people that the law was intended to protect.
As noted above, distracted driving is against the law in New York. If you can prove that the driver who caused the crash was distracted at the time – such as through police reports or cell phone records – then you may be able to use a negligence per se theory. Distracted driving laws were enacted specifically to prevent these types of accidents, and other drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists are all people who are protected by these laws.
Compensation in Distracted Driving Accident Cases
If you can demonstrate that the at-fault party was negligent or negligent per se, then you can recover financial compensation for your losses. Depending on the facts of your case, this may include money for your economic and non-economic damages. In some cases, you may also be able to recover punitive damages.
Economic and non-economic damages compensate accident victims. Economic damages pay for direct financial losses, such as property damage, lost wages, reduced earning capacity, medical bills, and future medical treatment. Non-economic damages pay for intangible losses, such as emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering.
If the other driver acted intentionally or recklessly, then you may be able to seek punitive damages. These damages are meant to punish a wrongdoer. While they are not available in every case, if the at-fault driver’s conduct was especially outrageous – such as someone speeding while taking a video of themselves and not paying attention to the road at all – then you may be able to seek punitive damages.
Our car crash lawyers work hard to help our clients get top dollar for their losses. We aggressively negotiate with insurance companies to get a fair settlement. If the insurance company refuses to give you the compensation that you deserve for your injuries, then our law firm will file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver and their insurer.
Filing a lawsuit does not mean that your case will go to trial. Instead, it is a way to protect your rights while both sides continue to negotiate. If the case does end up in court, then your auto accident attorney will present evidence, make arguments, and question witnesses before asking a jury to return a verdict in your favor.
Working with an experienced personal injury lawyer is the best way to get maximum compensation for your injuries. In White Plains and the surrounding areas, reach out to our law offices today to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with a member of our legal team.
How Our Law Firm Can Help
While our cars have gotten safer over the years, there are more potential distractions in our vehicles than ever before. Although New York has enacted tough distracted driving laws, thousands of people are still hurt or killed in distracted driving accidents each year. If you have been hurt in any type of automobile accident, we are here for you.
The Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan is dedicated to helping accident victims get the money that they deserve for their injuries. We have extensive experience in all types of personal injury matters, including distracted driving collisions. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation with a New York distracted driving accident lawyer, give us a call at 866-932-3661 or fill out our online contact form.
What Happens If I Was on My Phone When the Accident Occurred?
If another driver caused a motor vehicle accident, but you also bear some blame for the crash, you can still file a lawsuit against them. Under New York’s comparative negligence rules, you can recover financial compensation for your losses even if you were partially at fault (such as by engaging in distracted driving yourself). Your total compensation will be reduced by the percentage that you were at fault.
Our law firm is skilled at helping accident victims get the money that they deserve for their injuries, including in cases where they had some blame for the crash. Call the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan today to schedule a free consultation with a New York distracted driving accident attorney.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Distracted Driving Accident?
Yes. Even if fault is clear and the insurance company is saying that they take full responsibility, it is still a good idea to have legal representation. Insurance companies are in business to make money, and they don’t have your best interests at heart. The best way to ensure that you get full compensation is by working with a seasoned personal injury lawyer.
The Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan understand how insurance companies use sneaky tactics to try to get accident victims to accept far less money than their case is worth. We will fight to help you get maximum compensation for your injuries. Give us a call to talk to a White Plains distracted driving accident lawyer today.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit for a Distracted Driving Accident?
In New York, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is 3 years. With some exceptions, this means that you have 3 years from the date of the accident to file a claim. While this may seem like a long time, it can go quickly when you are dealing with doctor’s appointments, car repairs, and more.
There are a lot of benefits to pursuing a claim as soon as possible after a crash. Over time, witness memories can fade and important evidence can be lost. Contact the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan today to protect your rights.