Distracted driving is one of the nation’s leading causes of car accidents. Various distractions might cause an accident, and proving the driver was distracted depends on what they were doing behind the wheel when the accident happened.
Proving the defendant in your case was distracted when they caused the accident requires proving that their attention was not fully devoted to driving. While certain distractions are expected and can be easily dealt with, others are inexcusable. Distracted driving involves doing something behind the wheel that prevents the driver from driving safely. Phones, music, and other electronic devices are common causes of distracted driving. Proving the defendant was negligent and allowed themselves to be distracted requires that we establish the nature of the distraction.
If you were injured in a car accident and suspect the other driver was distracted, call our Indiana car accident lawyers for a free case assessment. Call the offices of Wruck Paupore at (219) 322-1166.
There are many types of distractions that take drivers’ attention from the road. Sometimes there may be several different distractions that play a role in your accident case. A first step to proving liability is identifying what kind of distractions were involved. The next step is connecting the distraction to the accident. Our Indiana car accident lawyers can review your case and help you prove the defendant is liable for distracted driving.
The first question to answer is, what was the distraction? Was the other driver texting, making a phone call, or perhaps reaching for something they dropped on the floor? A significant part of driving is learning to avoid distractions behind the wheel. Proving the nature of the distraction can be accomplished through eyewitness testimony, dash cam footage, or even nearby security camera footage.
Significantly, many forms of distracted driving leave an electronic trail that can be discovered as part of an accident investigation. For example, obtaining cellular data provider records can identify whether phone calls or SMS text exchanges were taking place at the time of a collision, and your lawyer may also be able to subpoena the at-fault driver’s device so that it can be inspected. Doing so usually requires putting the other party on notice that the evidence on the cell phone must be preserved and acting quickly to obtain the evidence.
We also have to consider how long the distraction lasted. Briefly glancing away from the road to adjust the radio or check the time are quick distractions that are less likely to cause accidents. However, if the distraction lasted for an unreasonable length of time, the defendant can be held liable. An unreasonable length of time might be as short as a few seconds, as drivers should almost always have their eyes on the road. Engaging in texting and driving, which is now the leading cause of distracted driving accidents, is never permissible and is illegal in most states. Using a cell phone without a “hands free” connection is also not permitted in many jurisdictions.
Another important consideration in proving the other driver was distracted is when the distraction happened. To use evidence of the unsafe actions taken by the driver as part of your case to recover damages, it is necessary to connect the distraction to the accident. In many cases, the distraction occurs mere moments before the accident. If the defendant was indeed distracted, but the distraction happened too long before the accident, it is more difficult to admit evidence of distracted driving as part of your claim for damages, although there are strategies which your legal team can use to try to get this information before a jury. Our Indianapolis car accident lawyers will work to prove not only that the other driver was distracted but that the careless activity (such as texting and driving) contributed to the accident.
It is not enough to prove that the driver was distracted just as the accident happened. We must go a step further and establish that the distraction was a direct cause of the accident. We can do this by investigating the accident for other possible causes. For example, suppose the defendant in your case was texting and driving. However, right before the accident, their back tires blew out. Ruptured tires probably have nothing to do with texting and driving, and the distraction of the phone is likely not the cause of the accident.
Drivers face distractions on the road daily. Part of a driver’s duty to drive with reasonable safety under the circumstances is resisting distractions. As mentioned before, a key aspect of your car accident lawsuit is identifying what distracted the defendant and caused the crash. Our South Bend car accident lawyers can help determine exactly how the defendant was distracted.
Phones and digital devices are everywhere. A cell phone is an important communication tool, and it can be hard to resist looking at your phone while on the road. If the defendant in your case was making a phone call or texting when the accident happened, we can subpoena their phone records and determine if they were using their phone at the time of the crash. However, records showing that they received a text do not necessarily show that the driver was reading it, so additional evidence may still be necessary.
Tablets and laptops also have been known to distract drivers. Although these devices are larger and more difficult to use while driving, drivers sometimes attempt to use them while behind the wheel. Many newer vehicles have built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and laptops and tablets can connect directly to the car. Even so, drivers should not be using these devices while on the road.
Electronic devices are not the only distraction inside a vehicle. Drivers are sometimes caught applying makeup in the rearview mirror, staring at a map or dashboard GPS for directions, or reaching for something they dropped on the floor. These are all things a driver should pull over for, but many negligent drivers keep driving.
In cases involving certain electronic and communication devices (e.g., phones), we can subpoena phone records. Our cell phones are connected to the internet and capable of numerous forms of communication. Phone companies typically keep thorough records of these communications. If the defendant sent several text messages or made a call before the accident, these communications will be reflected in their phone records. Even more useful is to preserve evidence on the phone itself and to get a court order to allow it to be fully inspected for text information.
If actual records of the distraction cannot be found, our Hammond car accident lawyers can ask witnesses about what they saw. In many cases, the plaintiff and the defendant were not the only people on the road during the accident. Other drivers, pedestrians, or bike riders might have seen your accident and can testify about what the driver was doing. If the driver was distracted, eyewitnesses can back up your claims.
You deserve justice and fair compensation if you were injured in a car accident because of the other driver’s distracted driving. For a free case assessment, call our Fort Wayne car accident attorneys of Wruck Paupore at (219) 322-1166.
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Don is a founding partner and one of the nation’s top-ranked personal injury litigators. He is a member of the Multi-million Dollar Advocates Forum, which includes less than 1% of the nation’s trial lawyers, and awarded the highest ranking given by Martindale Hubbel and AVVO.
More importantly, Don understands representing personal injury victims is about more than recovering the best settlement: it’s about helping clients get back on their feet and supporting them in every aspect of their recovery.
In nearly all cases, our clients seek compensation from the wrongdoer’s insurance company. Before forming Wruck Paupore, Jason worked for a prominent law firm representing some of the world’s largest insurers. This experience gives Jason a deep understanding of the insurance industry and the strategies it uses to pay injury victims as little as possible.
Jason -- and our entire team -- put this inside knowledge to work to force insurance companies to pay what is actually owed. Often, we use the insurance company’s own tactics against them as we fight for the full compensation our client deserves.
For more than four decades, Keith has been fighting for injury victims. During that time, he’s watched the insurance industry change, with insurers now more interested in protecting their stock price than treating injury victims fairly.
Since the beginning, Keith has put people first. From his childhood in Gary, Indiana during the 1960’s and working his way through law school, Keith has risen to become one of the Midwest’s most respected trial lawyers. He has never forgotten that being a lawyer is about helping people -- and seeing injury victims through struggles in a way that could change their lives forever.
Over the decades, Keith, Don and Jason have fought relentlessly for clients, even when other lawyers have said the case was impossible to win.