A distracted driver compromises the safety of himself, his passengers, those riding in other vehicles, and bystanders by not focusing his attention on the road. When this happens, accidents can occur. Some of the most common causes of distracted driving accidents are texting or talking on the phone, grooming or applying makeup, eating, and arguing with passengers.
While distracted driving laws have been enacted to prevent this phenomenon in Los Angeles and other parts of California (including AB 1785, which prohibits driving while texting on an electronic wireless communication device), it’s important to know what to do if you get involved in this type of accident.
Distracted Driving as a Breach of Duty
Distracted driving is a type of breach of duty or care of the driver. Drivers are expected to take reasonable care in operating their vehicles to avoid damage to property and injury to persons. If you were distracted while driving, that means you did not apply the reasonable care required of you while operating your vehicle. If an accident occurs as a result of your distracted driving, you’re liable for all the damages and injuries you’ve caused.
What Happens When You’re Distracted While Driving?
Taking your eyes off the road for even a few seconds could lead to a distracted driving accident: a dog or pedestrian could cross the street, motorcycle or bicycle riders could swerve to your lane, and other vehicles might cut in front of you without notice.
The statistics on distracted driving are pretty alarming. According to a 2016 survey from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), more than 54% of polled California drivers said they had been hit, or were nearly hit, by a driver who was talking or texting on a cellphone. Nationally, over 3,000 people were killed and more than 400,000 were injured in automobile crashes involving distracted driving in 2013.
Distracted driving can lead to devastating and life-altering consequences, including property damage; bodily injuries such as bruises, cuts, and fractures; spinal cord, internal, or head injuries; and even wrongful death.
What Should You Do if Distracted Driving Leads to an Accident?
Immediately following the accident, check yourself and others in the car for signs of injury and trauma. Next, call 911 for emergency treatment.
If the other driver was being negligent, you’ll want to be fully compensated for your damages and losses. Either way, you’ll need to property document the scene of the accident. Observe the following:
- Assess the bodily injuries and property damages you’ve sustained. This can help you monetize your claim against the other party later on.
- Gather the necessary evidence. Take pictures of the scene of the accident, damages to the vehicles involved, and any skid marks.
- Exchange contact information with the other party.
- Obtain the contact information of possible witnesses.
Never discuss who was at fault at the scene of the accident. It’s okay if the other party admits that they were distracted while driving, leading to the collision. However, if the other party refuses to admit fault or if you think you were partly to blame for the accident, then it’s best that you don’t assign blame. Instead, seek the counsel of a reputable car accident lawyer in Los Angeles. Your lawyer can help you with your claim by negotiating your damages and losses with the insurance company of the party at fault.