In 2016, more than 3,600 traffic fatalities were reported in the state of California. The fact is that everyone who travels is at risk.
What causes traffic accidents in our state? If you’ve been injured by a distracted driver, can you be reimbursed for your medical bills and other losses? Can a Pasadena car accident lawyer help?
How common is distracted driving in California? Are you and your family at risk from a distracted motorist? Motorists cannot multitask while they’re driving – driving requires their full attention. Anything that distracts a motorist from driving – even for a second could be fatal.
WHAT IS THE MOST COMMON DRIVING DISTRACTION?
Texting while you drive is probably the most common and probably the most dangerous type of distracted driving. Research conducted by AAA confirms that texting causes “cognitive” driver distraction – meaning that a texting driver isn’t paying attention to driving.
Rolling at 60 miles per hour, a car or a truck travels more than 300 feet – a football field’s length – in less than four seconds. Taking your attention away from the driving task – even for an instant – can be genuinely catastrophic.
The National Safety Council reports that texting while driving is the reason for over 1.5 million vehicle accidents in the U.S. every year. In 2017, almost one in four traffic accidents involved texting while driving.
WHAT ARE CALIFORNIA’S LAWS ABOUT USING A PHONE WHILE DRIVING?
The state of California enforces three laws that restrict or ban the use of cell phones while driving:
- Motorists are prohibited from any use of hand-held phones while driving.
- Motorists under 18 may not even use hands-free cellphones while driving.
- Texting and other wireless device use while driving is banned for all motorists.
ARE THERE ANY EXCEPTIONS TO THESE THREE LAWS?
There are several exceptions to #1 above, the ban on the use of hand-held phones while driving. Drivers may use hand-held phones:
- for emergency calls to report a crime, a fire, or a medical emergency
- if the driver is operating an authorized emergency vehicle
- if the driver is operating a vehicle on private property
The fine for a first offense is $20, and it is $50 for second and subsequent offenses. No points are placed against the motorist’s driver’s license.
The exceptions and fines are the same for law #2. California motorists who are under the age of 18 may not use any electronic communication device – hand-held or hands-free – to speak or text while driving. The only exceptions are emergency calls to the police, fire, or medical personnel.
A different law – #3 above – bans all texting and any use of a wireless device while driving, with these exceptions:
- first responders operating authorized emergency vehicles
- turning off or on a mounted GPS provided that only one tap or swipe is needed
- using a system that’s embedded in the vehicle by the manufacturer
Again, the fine for a first offense is $20, and it’s $50 for second or subsequent offenses.
HOW DANGEROUS IS TALKING ON A CELL PHONE WHILE YOU DRIVE?
Even with these laws in place, cell phones remain the top distraction for California motorists. One team of researchers reports that talking on a cell phone while driving quadruples the chances of a collision.
But as you might imagine, cell phones are far from the only distraction facing motorists in California. Other routine distractions for motorists may include grooming, eating, handling kids and pets, and daydreaming. Falling items and moving objects may also distract drivers.
Commit yourself to avoiding driving distractions – every time you drive.
WHAT IF YOU ARE INJURED IN AN ACCIDENT WITH A DISTRACTED DRIVER?
After a vehicle collision, your first priority is to seek medical attention and to determine if others also require medical attention. Your second priority is to summon the police. When the officers arrive, find out when and how you’ll be able to obtain a printout of their written accident report.
Get as many details as possible from the other driver: name, contact information, address, license tag and driver’s license numbers, and full insurance contact information. If that driver is too injured, intoxicated, or hostile to cooperate, ask the police to help you get the details you need.
If it’s possible, take photos – plenty of them – of the vehicle damages, the accident scene, and your visible injuries. Your photos may be persuasive evidence if you file a personal injury claim.
Likewise, if there are eyewitnesses who saw the accident, try to get their names and contact information. The statements and testimony of complete strangers can be powerfully persuasive evidence in a personal injury case.
HOW CAN AN AUTO INJURY ATTORNEY HELP YOU?
If the accident happened in southern California, after you’ve been treated by a healthcare professional, your next priority is consulting with an experienced car crash attorney.
A personal injury lawyer will explain your rights and options as an injured victim of negligence. Your attorney will negotiate with the negligent driver’s auto insurance company for the settlement amount you need.
After you’ve been injured by a distracted driver, that driver’s auto insurance company will likely try to offer you a settlement amount that is far less than what your claim will actually be worth, so you must have your attorney do the negotiating and talking on your behalf.
HOW ARE MOST CALIFORNIA TRAFFIC COLLISION CLAIMS RESOLVED?
If an insurance company representative contacts you, you’ll need to refer that person to your attorney, so you’ll need to obtain a lawyer’s help as soon after the accident as possible.
Your personal injury lawyer will be a skilled negotiator who routinely conducts settlement negotiations with insurance companies and who knows what it takes to prevail in those negotiations.
Most personal injury cases are settled out-of-court, so most victims of negligence never have to appear in a courtroom. In some cases, however, private negotiations fail, and your lawyer may suggest taking the case to court and asking a jury for the compensation and the justice you need.
If you are injured by a distracted driver in Southern California, as soon as you’ve obtained medical treatment, make the call to an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney. A good attorney’s help is an injury victim’s right, and in fact, your future could depend on it.