Distracted driving has unfortunately become a hot topic of conversation in Virginia and across the roadways of the United States. Distractions within vehicles have always been an issue for drivers, but the distractions seem to multiply each decade with the advent of new technology. Smartphone technology allows us to be connected to the world in the click of a button, although also leads to extreme distraction for many people while driving. If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident caused by the negligence of another driver, reach out to a Richmond distracted driving accident attorney at Pendleton Law as soon as you are able.
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Distracted Driving in Virginia
Distracted driving has been an issue for decades, and obviously predated the use of cell phones and smartphones. Simply talking to your passenger, yelling at your kids in the backseat, applying makeup, or looking at a map are all ways that lead to driver distraction. Taking your eyes off the road for just a second could have disastrous results.
The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute released a study in 2013 which highlighted the threat of distracted driving. The report indicated that text messaging increased the risk of a car accident by two times, and led to drivers taking their eyes off the road for 23 seconds. The activities involved in making a phone call, which includes reaching for your phone, dialing, and beginning the call, increase the risk of an accident by three times. Even simply holding a phone in your hands to talk to someone while on speakerphone leads to a heightened risk of car accidents. These statistics are staggering and represent a growing concern about the dangers of distracted driving. The injuries from distracted driving accidents can be devastating and our Richmond distracted driving accident attorneys have seen the effects firsthand.
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Common Types of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving does not only mean texting while driving. It can refer to taking one’s eyes off the road, hands off the wheel or mind off of driving for any reason. While cellphones are the most dangerous type of driver distraction, they are not the only threat to roadway safety. A driver could crash into you due to many types of distractions.
- Passengers or children
- Eating or drinking
- Billboards and signs
- Maps or GPS
- Personal grooming
- Radio or vehicle controls
No one is safe from distracted drivers – not bicyclists, pedestrians or other motorists. Driver distractions can cause serious to catastrophic vehicle accidents. Some of the most common related injuries include fractures, dislocations, sprains, cuts, burns, head injuries, spine and back injuries, whiplash, and organ damage. At Pendleton Law, we can help clients with all types of personal injuries connected to a distracted driving accident in Richmond.
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Virginia’s Distracted Driving Laws
Distracted driving is a rampant problem. In 2018 alone, distracted driving killed 2,841 people, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Most states have fought to prevent distracted driving accidents through passing related statutes. Although Virginia lawmakers have been back and forth on passing cellphone laws, the most recent bill to pass (House Bill 874) will go into effect on January 1, 2021.
This law will make it illegal to use a handheld personal communication device while operating a motor vehicle. It will prohibit any type of handheld cellphone use while driving. The current law already bars drivers from reading or typing messages and holding a handheld device while in a work zone. The new law, however, will ban all forms of handheld cellphone use while behind the wheel. The penalty for breaking Virginia’s handheld cellphone law will be a fine. If you drive recklessly while driving distracted, you could also face a reckless driving infraction and related fine.
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Distracted Driving Accidents & Recovery
Distracted driving accidents are often some of the most frustrating because they are incredibly easy to prevent. It is not difficult to ignore your cell phone or other inner-car distractions for the short while you are in the car. If a situation arises when you need to take a call, it is recommended that you pull over to take the call. Even hands-free systems lead to driver distraction. The resulting injuries from distracted driving accidents like brain injuries, severe burns, spinal cord injuries, and others can be life-threatening. Drivers who are distracted are often unaware of their speed and may miss the last minute lane-change that a car in front of them performed, or the child running into the middle of the street. Driving is a privilege, not a right, and with this privilege comes the promise and responsibility to keep your eyes on the road. Drivers who fail to adhere to this standard may be held liable for the resulting injuries.
As the victim of a distracted driving accident, you are entitled to bring a claim for damages against the responsible party, which can include the following:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Future earnings
- Pain and suffering
It is important to refrain from speaking with the responsible party’s insurance company during the immediate aftermath of the accident. An insurance company will work to mitigate their losses by attempting to settle at a low rate. The insurance company will often try to masquerade this rate as a steal due to the quickness of the settlement and the immediacy with which you will receive the payment. However, you are often entitled to receive more than the settlement provides. An experienced personal injury lawyer in Richmond, VA will be able to assist you in calculating the total amount of damages you may claim.
How to Prove a Distracted Driving Accident Claim
Obtaining fair compensation for a distracted driving accident can be tricky in Virginia. It is an add-on no-fault state, meaning your type of insurance may bar you from seeking recovery from the at-fault party. If you chose to purchase add-on no-fault insurance, you will seek benefits from your own provider instead of the distracted driver’s insurer. The only exceptions are if your injuries are serious enough to allow you to file a lawsuit outside of the no-fault system or if you chose fault-based car insurance instead.
If you have grounds to bring a claim against the at-fault distracted driver, do so right away. Most insurance companies require prompt reporting, within 24 hours of the car accident. File your initial claim and wait for an insurance claims adjuster to call you back. In the meantime, seek professional medical attention for your injuries and document them using copies of your patient records. The more information you gather about your distracted driving accident, the stronger your claim.
Next, contact us for assistance in building a case against the at-fault driver. Ideally, you called the police from the scene of your accident to help you collect evidence. The police can gather information such as eyewitness statements and official photographs. Your lawyer can also subpoena evidence such as the driver’s cellphone records to search for proof of distracted driving. A lawyer can improve your chances of demonstrating the driver’s fault as more likely to be true than not true. This is the burden of proof you must meet before the courts will award you compensation.
Pendleton Law | Richmond Distracted Driving Accident Lawyers
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident caused by distracted driving, do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at Pendleton Law. Our lawyers have years of experience in handling distracted driving cases and will work closely with you to understand the facts of the case. Contact us today for your free case evaluation.
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