Everyone knows the dangers of distracted driving, and yet each day, hundreds of people around the country suffer injuries in auto accidents caused by distracted driving. In 2014, approximately 431,000 people were injured and over 3,000 people died in crashes involving distracted drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). If you or your loved one was injured in a distracted driving accident, call Cueria Law Firm to speak with a New Orleans accident injury lawyer: 800-899-7102.
What are some common forms of distracted driving?
When people think of distracted driving, cell phone use and texting are the first things that usually come to mind. And handheld devices are certainly one of the main types of distraction. “At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010,” reports the NHTSA.
However, numerous other forms of distraction can lead to an accident, including:
- Putting on makeup, shaving, and other grooming
- Fumbling around for something on the floor
- Adjusting the radio or air conditioner
- Reaching for or lighting a cigarette
- Talking or arguing with passengers
- Gazing at people, accidents, or attractions
- Using the GPS or reading a map/directions
- Watching a video
What are Louisiana’s laws regarding the use of phones while driving?
Because the of the well-established dangers of talking on the phone and texting while driving, most states have laws that limit or prohibit drivers from using handheld devices — Louisiana included. Louisiana’s handheld device restrictions and the penalties for violation are as follows:
Unless you are a school bus driver, most drivers are able to use their cell phone while driving. There are a few exceptions, though.
Drivers under age 17 cannot use a phone at all while driving. They cannot make or receive any type of calls or texts. Violations are a moving violation and primary offense, which means officers can pull them over for that purpose only. Violators face a fine of $100 for first offense; $250 for subsequent offenses; and double fines if they were involved in a crash. (R.S. 32:300.7)
Drivers with a Class “E” learner’s permit or an intermediate license may only use a “hands free” cell phone. If they are caught driving while talking on or using a handheld phone, they can receive fines.
It is a secondary offense, though, which means an officer has to have another reason to pull them over. New drivers who are violating this rule can receive fines of up to $175 for their first offense and up to $500 for subsequent violations. And if they were using a hands-on phone and a crash occurs, their fines may double. (R.S. 32:300.6)
Louisiana bans all drivers from texting while driving, as per R.S. 32:300.5. The only time you can use your handheld phone is for calls, navigation and GPS, and emergencies. Texting while driving is a moving violation and a primary offense. First offenses are punishable by a $175 fine, and subsequent offenses mean a $500 fine.
Distracted driving is a form of negligence in terms of personal injury cases. In addition to fines, drivers found using their phones or texting while driving can be financially liable for any damage they cause. If they cause a wreck, they can be liable for the victims’ damages
How can I recover damages for an accident caused by distracted driving?
Louisiana is a fault auto insurance state, which means that drivers retain the right to pursue compensation for damages from the at-fault parties. Most of these cases start with an insurance claim against the at-fault party. But some cases may progress to filing a lawsuit and going to trial to get compensation.
So, in most cases, you can recover damages from a distracted driver if he caused your accident; that is, so long as you have adequate proof of fault. Proving a driver was distracted can be challenging, though. How do you prove to the insurer or court, for example, that the driver was putting on make-up or eating a sandwich?
One of the biggest key pieces of evidence in distracted driving cases is eyewitness testimonies. Eyewitnesses may be able to provide a statement that they saw the driver engaging in another activity while driving. Sometimes, the police report will notate distractions or violations, as well.
Also, if the driver was using his phone or texting when the accident occurred, you may be able to use his phone records to prove fault. We can help you recover the appropriate phone records if they are applicable to your case.
If you can prove the other driver’s negligence, you can recover a wide range of damages including:
- Medical and rehabilitation costs
- Transportation costs for medical appointments
- Lost wages and disability
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Reduced earning capacity
- Emotional damages
- Pain and suffering
- Reduced quality of life
- Punitive damages
- Death benefits
What steps do I take after a distracted driving-related accident?
After any type of auto accident, your first concern is your safety and obtaining medical treatment. Always get a medical evaluation after any accident. This protects your health, as well as your legal interests.
At the scene, try to remain calm and avoid angry outbursts or blame. Act smartly instead. If you are physically able, collect as much evidence as you can. Take down the other driver’s information (name, contact info, and insurance information), as well as the reporting officer’s name and department. Ask for a copy of the police report, too.
If possible, take photos and/or video with your phone of the accident scene, the positioning of the cars, a wide angle shot that identifies the location, and the damage to both cars. If anyone stopped at the scene to render aid, ask if she saw the accident and if so, ask if you can contact her for a statement later if need be for your claim or lawsuit.
You will also need to report the accident to the insurance company. However, it is highly advisable to speak to an attorney before providing a statement to any adjusters. You might inadvertently say or do something that could hurt your claim. Your lawyer can give you tips on how to handle the conversation, help you with paperwork or court forms, and can negotiate with insurers for you.
Call Cueria Law Firm, LLC for a Distracted Driving Accident Attorney in New Orleans
If you or your loved one were hurt in an auto accident in New Orleans, call the injury team at Cueria Law Firm, LLC to talk about your case. If the driver was distracted, we can use that as the grounds to file a claim or lawsuit and recover damages for you.
When you work with us, we will fight on your behalf to obtain fair compensation for your case so you can rest easier and focus on recuperating. Contact our office today at 800-899-7102 and schedule a consultation.