Recovering from a serious injury, or multiple injuries, after an auto accident is a full-time commitment that can involve significant pain, suffering, and rehabilitative therapy. While many individuals can make a recovery from their serious injuries sustained in a car crash, others will never fully recover from their serious injuries. Whether you or a loved one have suffered a life-altering injury or a loved one has been killed due to the negligence of a distracted driver, dealing with the aftermath of an accident demands patience, courage, and strength. It may not be easy to cope with the many financial, emotional, and physical consequences of a car crash caused by another person’s negligence, but it is possible.
For more than 36 years, the attorneys of The Reiff Law Firm, have helped injured people seek the compensation they need to recover from serious injuries or the death of a loved one. We always work diligently and strategically when assessing how to prove that a driver was distracted at the time of a collision. While building an effective case for a successful outcome is unique in every matter. Our experienced Philadelphia distracted driving attorneys always offer free consultations. Call (215) 709-6940 today for more information about how we can fight for you.
The Most Common Causes of Distracted Driving Accidents in Philadelphia
Distracted driving is a common cause of Philadelphia car accidents. There are many forms of distracted driving and all of them significantly increase the risk of an injury accident. Essentially a driver is distracted from his or her duties as a responsible motorist when a visual, manual, or cognitive distraction changes the focus of the driver’s attention to anything but the road. Examples of a visual distraction while driving include:
- Texting or other phone use
- Changing the radio station
- Using a GPS navigation system
Many of these same activities would also include a manual distraction component because the driver must remove his or her hands from the wheel to perform these task. Finally, mental distractions involve any activity or distraction that takes the driver’s mind off of the road. Texting while driving is particularly dangerous because it involves all three types of distracted driving.
Distracted Driving Statistics
Despite the danger of texting and driving, a 2011 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study indicated that 31% of U.S. drivers state that they had read or sent text messages or email messages while driving at least once within the 30 days before they were surveyed. It is highly likely that this figure understates the problem because many drivers are understandably hesitant to reveal that they engaged in practices that are illegal in their state or extremely dangerous. Nearly 70 percent of drivers indicated that they had placed or answered a phone call while driving over the previous 30 days.
Despite the well-known dangers of distracted driving, many people feel an irresistible impulse to take their eyes of the road and focus on distractions. According to distracted driving statistics provided by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and published in April 2015, distracted driving is a factor in nearly one-in-five crashes causing a fatal injury. A distraction also plays a role in 10 percent of all fatal crashes.
Unfortunately, teenage drivers appear to be particularly at risk for distracted driving crashes. Potential explanations for this fact include a lack of driving experience and the central role of cell phones and electronic communication plays in the life of a high school or college-aged individual. In fact, ten percent of all drivers aged 15 to 19 years old who were involved in fatal crashes were involved in distraction-affected collisions. This cohort has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted when they collided with another vehicle.
A person driving while using a cell phone is four times as likely to be involved in an accident in which he seriously injures himself or someone else, and 18% of all fatal distracted-driving car accidents were linked to cell phone use. Teens and young adults under 20 are the highest risk group, leading to a large proportion of distracted-driving fatalities. Many states have already implemented laws banning hand-held cell phones, and requiring headsets, or other hands-free systems. Studies have shown that texting while driving seriously affects a driver’s reaction time, causes drivers to leave their lanes, and miss traffic signs and signals. Drivers typically take their eyes off the road for around five seconds to read or send a text message, resulting in thousands of accidents, catastrophic injuries, and wrongful deaths. However, only a few states have banned texting while driving.
“18% of all fatal distracted-driving car accidents were linked to cell phone use”
Not Just Cell Phones
While many people are aware that using cell phones can be distracting and dangerous, not as many realize that driving with unrestrained pets is just as hazardous. Pets may climb up on seats and block windows, get on your lap and impede your view, or climb into the driving well, potentially under the pedals. Keeping your pet restrained in a harness or crate will protect you from distractions, but also protect the pet in the event of a collision. Police are well aware of this issue and, in some states, write tickets. You might remember the fiasco that ensued last year when New Jersey tried to enact and enforce an animal restraint law. The bottom line is that police are actively on the lookout for all forms of distracted driving. They can and do write traffic tickets.
Drunk drivers are held accountable when their recklessness causes catastrophic injuries and wrongful deaths to innocent victims, and the experienced Philadelphia car accident attorneys of The Reiff Law Firm firmly believe distracted drivers and people that text while driving should be held accountable when their actions cause devastating consequences. For over three decades, we have advocated for stricter laws regarding distracted driving. Driver safety is one of our top priorities. Our distracted driving attorneys know all too well how quickly your life can change due to someone else’s negligence, and we understand the long-term physical and financial burdens car accident victims will face. We have won hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of catastrophically injured and wrongfully killed victims and their families, to compensate them for injuries, pain, suffering, rehabilitation, medical expenses, and lost wages.
Pennsylvania’s Texting and Driving Laws
It is important to note that there is a statewide ban on texting while driving in Pennsylvania. The law, 75 Pa. C.S. §3316(e), went into effect in March of 2012. While it is a positive development that the entire state of Pennsylvania now prohibits texting and driving, the law did preempt a much stricter Philadelphia ordinance.
As a primary law, police officers have the right to pull over any driver who is texting while operating a vehicle. Drivers who violate this texting ban will face a fine of $50. And more importantly for a distracted driving injury victim, the other driver is likely to be able to be held legally and financially accountable for any injuries or damages they cause while driving distracted.
Texting and Driving Consequences in PA
According to Pennsylvania Statute 3714: “Any person who drives a vehicle in careless disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of careless driving.” A driver does not, however, need to face citations for careless driving in order to be held accountable for the crash. Injured victims can file personal injury claims seeking damages. A case based on a negligence theory alone would need to prove the four basic elements of negligence. These are:
- Duty – Individuals often owe a duty to other people to behave reasonably in the circumstances. Duties to behave in a reasonable manner exist in an array of circumstances including the operation of motor vehicles, the maintenance of one’s property, and many other situations.
- Breach – Once the existence of a duty is established, the injured party must prove that the other party breached his or her duty to behave in a reasonable manner. Distracted driving, speeding, and failure to yield are but a few of the careless or reckless behaviors that can result in a breach of one’s duty.
- Causation – An injury victim must also be able to prove that the other party was both the actual “but for” cause and the legal (proximate cause) of the injury.
- Injury – While it may seem somewhat self-evident, for there to be damages to recover the individual must have suffered a personal injury and other consequential damages such as lost wages and medical bills.
The above sets forth only the basic road map for a negligence claim. Additional legal theories, including negligence per se may also provide a pathway to a favorable resolution. A negligence per se claim is premised on the fact that, first, the injured person was of the class of persons the statute sought to protect (other motorists and pedestrians). Second, the statute was intended to protect against the type of conduct that caused the injury.
What Damages Can I Recover After a Texting and Driving Accident in Philadelphia?
At The Reiff Law Firm we believe that all losses suffered in a Philadelphia car accident should be borne by the responsible party and not the victim. Therefore, part of our work-up for a case always includes assessing all injuries, damages, and losses you have suffered. Injured victims of distracted drivers have the legal right to pursue compensation for their:
- Medical bills
- Hospital expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning potential
The above captures only the common damages that our Philadelphia personal injury firm can pursue for injury victims. We always assess each situation and case on its unique facts and circumstances.
How to Handle a Distracted Driving Accident Claim
Following a car accident, it is common for insurance companies to offer inadequate settlements that do not fully cover the losses suffered in the crash. Insurance companies bet on the fact that while they have significant experience negotiating these matters, most drivers do not. Thus, the insurance company frequently has a better idea regarding the true costs of the accident, but will nevertheless offer settlements that will not cover these costs. Remember, regardless of whether you are working with your own or the other driver’s insurance company, the insurance agent or adjuster works for the company; not for you.
In most distracted driving accidents, the injured party should at least explore whether they have a good case. While in many scenarios a distracted driving accident is actionable and likely to result in a recovery, the outcome is dependent on the unique factors and circumstances present in each case. For instance, an injured motorist who is also distracted or otherwise contributes to causing the accident may be barred from bringing their suit or their potential recovery may be reduced.
Thus, if you have been in Evidence from the scene of the accident as well as medical records are also indicative of whether you have a case that warrants the other party to pay you money to offset hospital bills, lost wages, and other damages.
Our Philadelphia Distracted Driving Accident Attorneys Can Help
If a distracted driver has injured you or someone you love, please contact the knowledgeable texting and driving accident attorneys at The Reiff Law Firm for a free consultation. Our attorneys work to hold negligent parties liable through the highest professional standards of ethics and conduct. The Philadelphia distracted driving lawyers of The Reiff Law Firm have been featured in Philadelphia Magazine as Top Attorneys in Pennsylvania for excellence in personal injury litigation and are internationally recognized as preeminent lawyers. To schedule your distracted driving accident consultation, call our Center City Philadelphia law firm at (215) 709-6940 today.