Texting while driving has become a serious problem over the last 20 years. Drivers are reading and typing texts instead of paying attention to the road, resulting in more car accidents. If you have been in an accident with a texting driver, you may be entitled to substantial financial compensation. First, contact an experienced car accident lawyer to learn more about your legal rights.
Your settlement can be significant when you have suffered an injury in a distracted driving accident, and you want to ensure that you make informed decisions every step of the way. Therefore, it is essential to protect your legal rights by retaining an experienced car accident lawyer.
Texting While Driving Has Become a Prevalent Problem
According to the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration, over 3,500 people lost their lives in crashes involving distracted drivers in recent years, and the number of fatalities continues to rise. Many things can compete with the road for the driver's attention, especially devices such as smartphones.
Almost four in every ten drivers admit to reading a text behind the wheel, and nearly as many say they have typed a text. The problem is even worse among teen drivers who lack driving experience, and 16 percent of distracted driving crashes involve motorists under the age of 20.
The Many Dangers of Texting While Driving
Texting takes the driver's eyes off the road for a considerable period, where the average person takes five seconds to read or send a text. According to the Department of Transportation, sending a text behind the wheel is the equivalent of driving an entire football field while blindfolded. In addition, texting takes up the driver's mental energy because they either think about the text they have received or what they will say. Even after looking down at their phone, it can take a few more seconds for the driver to refocus on the road. Then, the driver will have traveled a considerable distance without focusing entirely on the road.
Injuries in a Distracted Driving Crash
Distracted driving crashes tend to be serious. The driver cannot do anything to avoid the accident or minimize its impact because they cannot see what is happening. The other driver cannot take evasive action because it is impossible to anticipate the distracted driver's actions. Additionally, distracted driving crashes often occur at high speed, making the injuries even worse.
Distracted driving injuries can include:
- Fractures and broken bones
- Head and neck injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Back injuries
- Cuts and lacerations
- Internal injuries
Any car accident injury can cause you to rack up many thousands of dollars in medical bills, and you will most likely suffer other damages. It is crucial to have legal representation from an experienced lawyer.
You Should Report the Accident to Law Enforcement
Your initial step in the legal process comes at the accident scene. Of course, it is challenging to collect your own evidence at the accident scene because you are dealing with physical injuries and possibly receiving medical attention. Hopefully, you or someone else called a police officer, who likely wrote a report that included their observations about what they saw or heard. They may have even issued the other driver a citation for texting while driving. If they wrote a ticket, it can be beneficial to your case.
Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company, But Be Careful
Next, you will need to report the accident to your insurance company. Here, you need to be careful in what you say because your insurance company can become an adversary in the future if you have to file an underinsured motorist claim. Even if you initially reported the accident alone, you should wait to discuss further details until you have an attorney to represent you.
Make Sure That You Get Prompt and Comprehensive Medical Treatment
You must tend to your health after you have suffered an injury in a distracted driving accident. You may have received treatment at the accident scene, and if this is the case, you must follow up with your medical care.
If you did not receive treatment immediately, you should see a doctor within days after the accident because some injuries take time to show symptoms. For example, it may take days or weeks to begin to feel the effects of whiplash. Thus, it is always better to err on the side of caution when seeking medical care after an accident. The last thing that you want is for your injuries to grow worse because you did not seek timely medical care. Also, insurance companies may try to cut your settlement because they will claim you did not care for your health in time.
Your attorney may use the following forms of evidence to prove your case:
- Witness testimony from people who saw the accident
- Pictures from the scene of the crash
- The police report written by the officer who showed up at the scene of the accident (although this is not admissible in a trial)
- Traffic or dashboard camera footage
- Testimony from an accident reconstruction expert
If you can obtain evidence that the other driver was texting, it can help tip the scales in a close case. Your attorney can subpoena the other driver's cell phone records, although those can only tell when a driver sends a text, and the fact that they received a text in a certain period is not proof that they were reading it. Nonetheless, this evidence may persuade their insurance company to settle the case.
Without a Lawyer, Your Legal Rights Are in Danger
Insurance companies may immediately realize they have a problem when they know their driver was at fault for the accident based on the facts or what the driver admitted.
Then, insurance companies may go into overdrive to try to find a way to reduce their tab, and one of their favorite tricks is to try to get you to make a statement, which you never have to do after an accident. They can also trick you into saying something they will later use as a statement by simply asking you how you are doing.
Alternatively, insurance companies may try to pressure you into accepting a quick settlement, hoping that the lure of an immediate check will get you to forgo what can be a far more lucrative recovery later. They can even sneak language into an innocuous-looking document that binds you to a settlement. Once you sign away your legal rights, you cannot get them back.
Hiring a lawyer can protect you from these situations because insurance companies must consult your lawyer to deal with you. Tell them to speak to your attorney if they try to contact you directly.
Your Lawyer Knows How Much Your Case Is Worth
Your attorney will work to maximize your financial compensation after the accident. First, they will study your situation to determine the dollar value of your losses. Second, they will present the claim to the insurance company or file the lawsuit on your behalf in court.
Even if the facts seem heavily against the other driver, it will not stop insurance companies from trying to lowball you in settlement negotiations. They will never offer you fair value for your claim right off the bat, and they probably have a significant amount of room to raise their initial offer. Your lawyer will negotiate with the insurance companies to get your rightful compensation.
Your lawyer's presence alone may persuade insurance companies to be more fair and reasonable because they know they cannot get away with the usual tactics they often use to save money. An experienced attorney will forcefully stand up for their client when insurance companies try to steamroll them.
Your attorney may even file a lawsuit on your behalf if necessary. Given the level of negligence a texting driver has shown, it may seem incomprehensible that the insurance company will want to take your case that far. However, you may have to go through court to pressure the insurance company to pay what you deserve, and you may also need an active court case to obtain information and evidence from the other driver. Remember, just because you have filed a lawsuit does not mean your case will go to trial, and many cases will settle beforehand.
Be Careful What You Do After the Accident
Equally as important is what you should not do after the accident. You should not post about it on social media or speak publicly about it. Even if you believe the other driver was clearly at fault for the accident, it never helps your case to say anything about it in the public realm because insurance companies may have access to your social media posts. If they cannot see your posts now, they can obtain them in the discovery process if your case goes to court. Thus, it is always better to refrain from posting on social media, no matter how much you want to share.
Speaking with Insurance Companies
After a car accident, it might seem harmless to speak with the insurance company right away. However, remember that their main goal is to minimize their own financial liability. This means they may not have your best interests in mind.
When you speak with the insurance company, they may try to gather information to potentially use against you later on. They may ask leading questions or twist your words to shift blame or downplay the severity of your injuries.
By retaining an attorney before speaking with the insurance company, you can protect yourself and ensure a professional is handling all communications. Remember, the insurance company is not on your side. They are a business trying to protect their own bottom line. Don't fall into their traps. Consult with a car accident attorney first who will fight for your best interests and seek the compensation you deserve.
Responding to Settlement Offers
Be mindful of the settlement offers that may come your way right after an accident. It might be tempting to accept a quick settlement offer from the insurance company, especially when you're facing mounting medical bills and car repairs. However, accepting a settlement offer without seeking legal advice can have serious consequences.
Insurance companies are famous for offering low settlement amounts to accident victims in the hopes of saving money. They may try to downplay the severity of your injuries or rush you into accepting a settlement before you fully understand the extent of your damages. Without proper legal guidance, you may not be aware of your rights and the true value of your claim.
By consulting with a car accident attorney, you can ensure that you receive fair and just compensation for your injuries and losses. Attorneys experienced in car accident claims have a deep understanding of the legal process and know the tactics insurance companies use to minimize payouts. They can assess the value of your claim, gather evidence, negotiate with insurance adjusters, and, if necessary, take your case to court.
Consult a Car Accident Attorney Today
Remember, accepting a settlement offer without legal advice can be a costly mistake. The aftermath of a car accident can be overwhelming, and it's easy to make hasty decisions in the heat of the moment. By consulting a personal injury attorney, you can make informed choices that safeguard your interests and maximize your chances of receiving the compensation you deserve.
Don't let the insurance company take advantage of you. Seek legal advice and protect your rights. If you worry about the financial side of hiring an attorney, you can stop now. Your lawyer will never ask you to pay money out of your pocket, and they only require payment if you receive compensation from a settlement check or a jury award.