Table of Contents
- What To Know About Distracted Driving Accidents
- When A Driver Manipulates Their Phone, The Risk Of A Deadly Crash Skyrockets 66%
- How Serious Is The Distracted Driving Problem In Georgia?
- Georgia Takes Aim At Distracted Drivers With New Law
- Common Examples Of Distracted Driving
- Texting While Driving Is A Growing Danger
- Distracted Driving Is Negligence
- How To Prove Distracted Driving
- Auto Accident Victims Have Limited Time To Take Legal Action
- Victims Deserve Full Financial Compensation
- Contact Our Atlanta Distracted Driving Accident Attorneys Today
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT DISTRACTED DRIVING ACCIDENTS
Atlanta distracted driving accidents are a major – and growing – problem. Urban, suburban, rural and highway – no roadways are immune. Georgia traffic safety officials report distracted driving is increasingly cited in a growing number of:
- Single-vehicle crashes
- Rear-end crashes
- Crashes involving young drivers
A study released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reveals drivers today are 57 percent more likely to be spotted manipulating their cell phones compared to those in 2014. Researchers concluded it’s not just that more drivers are on their phones – it’s that they are using them in ways increasingly precarious. Beyond just talking and texting, they’re surfing the internet, watching videos, updating social media, taking photos and live streaming their drive.
When a driver manipulates his/her phone, the risk of a deadly crash skyrockets 66 percent.
If you are injured or a loved one killed in an Atlanta distracted driving accident – as a passenger, another driver, pedestrian or bicyclist – there are numerous ways a personal injury lawyer can help.
Although collecting damages from a distracted driver might seem a straightforward task, the truth of the matter is proving distraction is a lot tougher than, say, establishing drunk driving. While law enforcement crash investigators have become increasingly adept at identifying distraction as causation in crashes – and those findings frequently aid victims in their quest for monetary recovery – that isn’t their purpose. But it is ours.
At Apolinsky & Associates, our Atlanta car accident lawyers have a team of seasoned crash investigators, expert witnesses and litigators. We conduct our own analysis with the specific goal of identifying evidence that will be our client’s case. We generally advise crash victims to contact an injury lawyer as soon as possible. Claims can often be expediently and favorably resolved through insurance negotiation without ever filing a lawsuit. That said, our Atlanta civil trial lawyers will commit to a courtroom battle if that’s what’s in our client’s best interests.
How Serious is the Georgia Distracted Driving Problem?
Cellphones certainly aren’t the only thing vying for drivers’ attention. Technically, a distraction can be almost anything – from sipping a soda to changing the radio station to scolding an unruly child. But smartphones increasingly pose one of the most urgent traffic safety issues – partially because they’re now so pervasive and especially when drivers are more likely now to be actively manipulating one as opposed to just talking on it.
Make no mistake: Chatting on one’s cell phone (especially with a handheld device) siphons one’s attention from the task at hand. Government studies have concluded a driver talking on a cell phone will generally fix his/her gaze steadily at the center of the road. However, the act of trying to juggle two high-level executive functions at once (talking and driving) can make it tougher for a person’s brain to take in everything they’re seeing and tends to slow reaction times. Meanwhile, those manipulating their phones (texting, web browsing, watching a video, etc.) are even worse off because not only is one hand off the wheel, their mind off the task, they’re effectively driving blind for a good chunk of the drive.
A Georgia Department of Public Safety analysis commissioned last year by state house representatives revealed:
- Single-vehicle distracted driving crashes in Georgia rose 18 percent from 2013 to 2016, totaling nearly 4000 in just one year.
- Distracted drivers caused 13,500 rear-end collisions in Georgia in 2016.
- Authorities cited distraction in 12,400 crashes involving novice motorists (ages 15 to 25) that same year.
Federal authorities report distraction is a causal factor in:
- 10 percent of all fatal crashes
- 15 percent of all injury crashes
- 14 percent of all police-reported crashes
Cell phone use is expressly cited in 14 percent of deadly distracted driving collisions. That’s almost certainly a low-ball estimate because distracted driving isn’t always readily identified.
Georgia Takes Aim at Distracted Drivers With New Law
As your Atlanta car accident attorney can explain, distraction behind the wheel is a form of negligence. According to Georgia Code Title 51, negligence is a type of tort, which simply put is unlawful violation of a private legal right. Negligence is a tort that occurs when someone fails to exercise a required duty of care resulting in injury to another.
A driver who is inattentive fails to exercise the required duty of care to pay attention.
It’s not always imperative to prove the other driver was distracted in order to establish fault or obtain compensation. It does, however, strengthen your claim.
Proving distraction can also be valuable in helping your injury lawyer push back on any defense claim of comparative negligence on your part. As outlined in O.C.G.A. 51-12-33, your share of fault in causing the crash/your own injuries can proportionately reduce your monetary damages. It won’t eliminate your ability to collect at least a portion of it, though, unless you are deemed 50 percent or more at-fault.
Georgia traffic laws have long held that drivers were expected to use “due care,” explained as refraining from any action that might distract a driver from safe operation of the vehicle. This expressly includes everything BUT use of a mobile phone. Prior to last year, the law allowed for “proper use” of a mobile phone, a phrase not defined except but for in two subsequent sections indicating drivers under 18/with a Class D/Instruction permit were subject to a cell phone ban and all drivers were prohibiting from writing, reading or sending text-based communication while driving. Both had emergency exceptions.
Georgia’s distracted driving laws were enhanced last year with the 2018 Hands-Free Georgia Act, O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241(b)(c)(d), which took effect last July. Drivers are still required to exercise due care, but restrictions on cell phone use are now more stringent and explicit. Among the new provisions:
- Drivers can’t have a phone in their hand – or even touching any part of their body – while talking on that phone and driving.
- Motorists who opt for hands-free technology still can’t write, read or send text messages or emails, and they’re also expressly prohibited from the same on social media or any other internet data while they’re on the road.
- Drivers are expressly barred from watching videos while operating a vehicle, with exceptions for GPS or other navigational videos. While continuous dash cameras are allowed, use of phones or other electronic devices to record while driving is not.
- Motorists can listen to streaming music on their devices, so long as there aren’t videos displayed and they can’t touch the phone or activate those streaming music apps on their phone while driving. They will have to activate those apps before they get on the road. The law makes an exception for streaming music controlled by/listened through the vehicle radio.
All of this makes it easier for law enforcement – and your distracted driving injury attorney – to prove the other motorist was distracted.
A first-time citation for distracted driving will now run you $50 and 1 point on your license. (In case that doesn’t sway someone you love from putting down the phone, remind them of the The Zebra’s latest distracted driving report which found car insurance companies hike your rates by as much as 16 percent for a single ticket.)
Common Examples of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving comes in a variety of different forms. Unfortunately, far too many Georgia drivers fail to live up to their duty to keep their full attention on the road. At Apolinsky & Associates, LLC, our founding attorney Stephen D. Apolinsky and our other highly qualified car accident lawyers have handled many different distracted driving accident cases, including cases involving virtually every different form of distracted driving. Some of the most common examples of distractions that lead to accidents include:
- Putting on makeup in the mirror;
- Reading while driving;
- Eating or drinking while driving;
- Using a GPS device while moving;
- Talking on a cell phone;
- Texting while driving; and
- Becoming generally distracted or “lost in thought”.
Texting While Driving is a Growing Danger
It is worth noting that certain forms of distracted driving are especially harmful. In particular, the use of a handheld device while driving, including texting while driving, is extremely dangerous.
According to a recent study that was conducted by scientists at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), the human brain has a so-called ‘sixth sense’ that helps to correct drivers whose attention wanders after being exposed to a minor distraction. This sixth sense allows drivers to re-focus their attention relatively quickly. However, the act of texting while behind the wheel completely obliterates this sixth sense. TTI researchers found that texting while driving dramatically reduces driver performance, thereby increasing the risk of serious car accidents.
Distracted Driving is Negligence
In Georgia, most car accident injury claims are brought under the state’s comparative fault statute (Ga. Code Ann. Sec. 51-12-33). In order to hold another driver legally liable for your traffic accident injuries, you will generally be required to prove that the driver’s negligence, in some form, contributed to causing your motor vehicle crash.
Distracted driving is, by definition, negligent driving. If your Atlanta car accident lawyer can prove that your wreck occurred because another driver was distracted, then you will likely be able to hold that inattentive driver responsible for the resulting injuries. Of course, this raises a very important question: How do injury victims actually prove that the other driver was distracted?
How to Prove Distracted Driving
Unfortunately, the driver who caused your accident is not always going to admit that they were ‘distracted’ at the time the crash occurred. They may not give all the relevant information to responding police officers or to the insurance companies. Indeed, in many cases, negligent drivers will omit material facts or even outright lie about the true cause of the crash.
To make matters even more confusing for injured victims, you may not even know whether or not the other driver was actually distracted. For example, a victim may not have been able to see the fact that the other driver had their cell phone in their lap and was texting with a friend when the collision occurred.
For this reason, it is critically important that traffic accident victims get an experienced Atlanta personal injury by their side as early on in the legal claims process as is possible. At Apolinsky & Associates, LLC, our skilled Georgia traffic accident lawyers will be able to conduct a comprehensive investigation of your claim, in order to determine whether or not another distracted driver was responsible for the crash. Putting together compelling supporting evidence is the key to winning any Georgia personal injury case, and there are several forms of evidence that can be used to establish distracted driving. Some of the most notable examples include:
- An admission by the other driver;
- The responding police officer’s notes;
- The official accident crash report;
- Testimony from a witness;
- Cell phone records;
- Pictures or video; and
- Expert accident analysis.
Auto Accident Victims Have Limited Time to Take Legal Action
If you were injured in an Atlanta distracted driving wreck, it is imperative that you take immediate action to protect your legal rights and financial interests. First and foremost, the state of Georgia has a two-year statute of limitations (Ga. Code Ann. Sec. 9-3-33) for most auto accident injury claims. In the event that an injured victim has not brought a lawsuit within two years of the date of the wreck, they may be time-barred from bringing legal action at all.
Additionally, a successful car accident injury claim requires strong supporting evidence. If action is not taken to preserve relevant evidence, the proof can quickly become difficult to track down. The best thing that you can do to protect yourself is to contact a qualified Fulton County distracted driving accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Victims Deserve Full Financial Compensation
If you were injured in a distracted driving accident in Georgia, you are entitled to seek financial compensation that is equal in value to the value of your damages. In legal parlance, this is often referred to as being made ‘whole’. Essentially, you have a right to be put back into the same position as you were in prior to the accident.
Unfortunately, the large insurance companies often make it incredibly difficult for distracted driving accident victims to get the full compensation that they deserve. This is where a top-rated Atlanta car accident lawyer like Stephen D. Apolinsky and the legal team at Apolinsky & Associates, LLC can help. Our experienced distracted driving accident lawyers can help you seek money for:
- Vehicles repairs or replacement;
- Emergency medical bills;
- Other medical expenses;
- Long-term disability;
- Lost wages;
- Diminished earning capacity;
- Pain and suffering;
- Mental distress;
- Disfigurement; and
- The wrongful death of a family member.
Contact Our Atlanta Distracted Driving Accident Attorneys Today
Trust the Atlanta car accident attorneys at Apolinsky & Associates to be your advocates in a Georgia distracted driving accident claim.
At Apolinsky & Associates, LLC, our Atlanta car accident attorneys have extensive experience handling distracted driving accidents. If you or a family member was injured in a crash with a distracted driver, you deserve full and fair compensation for your injuries. To get a free, no obligation review of your legal case, please contact our law firm today. From our offices in Atlanta and Decatur, we serve communities throughout the region, including in Fulton County, Dekalb County, Cobb County, and Clayton County.
The foregoing answer is not legal advice and is merely a general overview. You are advised to consult a lawyer to address your specific situation. Feel free to send comments or questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org of Apolinsky & Associates, LLC, or call (404) 377-9191.