When a driver enters the road, they have an obligation not only to themselves, but to every other driver, pedestrian, and cyclist they may encounter. Drivers are obligated to act reasonable and safely, avoiding any actions that could put themselves or others in harm’s way.
But the reality is that not all drivers take this responsibility seriously; some may think the rules don’t apply to them. Unfortunately, a large number of distracted driving accidents happen each year due to recklessness on the part of a driver.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by distracted driving, you have rights. You deserve justice and compensation for your pain and suffering, and we are here to help you achieve them. Your Giddens distracted driving accident lawyer can guide you through the process from start to finish, helping you navigate insurance claims, building a convincing case, and even defending you in court should the need arise. Don’t wait: call us today to schedule your free initial consultation.
What Exactly is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is an umbrella term that covers many different types of negligence. The NHTSA defines “any activity that diverts attention from driving,” which may include “talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system”.
Dealing with a pet or child in the backseat can also cause distraction, as can having an argument or any kind of consuming conversation with another passenger. These are things that can take your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, or your mind off the act of driving, all of which can have deadly consequences.
Of all of these, texting while driving is one of the most dangerous, and it’s also increasingly common. If you are driving at a rate of 55 miles per hour, and glance down at your phone for just 5 seconds to read or send a text, you will travel the length of a football field with your eyes off the road.
This is essentially the same as driving that distance with your eyes closed. Americans seem to agree that this is an incredibly dangerous behavior; in fact. One survey showed that 84.4% of American drivers agree that texting or emailing while driving is totally unacceptable.
But unfortunately, the knowledge of just how dangerous texting while driving can be does not prevent these accidents from happening. Every year, thousands of fatalities occur as a result of accidents caused by distracted driving. The NHTSA reported that in 2019 alone, more than 3,000 people lost their lives due to distracted driving accidents, and many, many more sustained serious injuries. In fact, recent data shows that approximately 1,000 people are injured daily due to distracted driving.
Are There Laws Around Distracted Driving?
Yes, there are. Today, many states have laws in place to prevent and punish distracting drivers. However, these raws vary across the nation, and some areas impost far stricter regulations than others. Check the laws in your city and state to ensure you’re following the best practices while on the road.
In Mississippi, there is no law prohibiting talking on a cell phone while driving. However, it is illegal to use a cellphone while driving to write, read, or send a text message, email, or anything other kind of written message. It’s also illegal to access or post to any social media or internet site. There are, however, some exceptions to these rules:
- Drivers may use a hands-free or voice operated device to do any of the above
- Drivers may read or send emergency, traffic, or weather alerts
- Drivers may read or send messages relating to the operation of the vehicle
Being caught texting while driving also carries a $100 fine. Remember, if you need to do anything that could distract you from driving, such as sending a message, dealing with a pet or child in the car, or eating, or if you feel drowsy or fatigued, it’s always best to pull over. The consequences for being a distracted driver can truly be devastating. Keep yourself and other drivers safe by keeping your eyes and mind of the road and your hands on the wheel.
How is Liability Determined in a Distracted Driving Car Accident?
As with most accidents, liability is initially determined by the insurance adjusters involved. In order to prove that a distracted driver was at fault, there must be clear evidence that they were distracted at the time of the collision. This evidence may include:
- The police report taken at the scene
- Footage or images of the driver texting or exhibiting other forms of distractedness
- Cell phone records showing if texts or emails were sent or received at the time of the collision
- Photographs of the scene
- An admission from the driver
- Witness accounts
- Vehicle data (today, many cars are equipped with technology that can show how a driver was behaving at and before the moment of collision)
Determining fault is more important in states like Mississippi than it is in some others, due to the fault based system the state uses. In a “no fault” state, you will receive coverage regardless of who is at fault, as it comes from your own insurance company.
But in Mississippi and other “tort” states, fault must be determined before any payments can be made. This may mean longer wait times for your medical bills and other costs to be reimbursed. This is one of the many reasons why it’s often wise to work with a distracted driving accident lawyer who can help speed the process along and establish the other driver’s fault.
What Are My Legal Options After a Distracted Driving Accident?
As with most car accidents, the first course of action is to file an insurance claim. Some states in the US function under a “no fault” insurance policy, which essentially means that if you are in an accident, you file a claim with your own insurance company, and they provide coverage for your medical bills and other damages.
Mississippi, however, uses the more common “at fault” approach. With this system, the at fault driver pays out damages to the injured party. So if you have been hurt in an accident with a distracted driver, you will file a claim with that driver’s insurance company. In the state of Mississippi, the minimum insurance requirements for all drivers are as follows:
- $25,000 for bodily injury
- $25,0000 for property damage
- Maximum of $50,0000 peraccident
If your accident is relatively minor, your needs may be sufficiently met via the other driver’s insurance coverage. But of course, there are cases in which the injured party’s costs far exceed $50,0000, and if that’s the maximum amount the at fault distracted driver’s insurance can provide, you may consider filing a personal injury claim. This may also be the right course of action if the other driver is uninsured or underinsured, or if their insurance company tries to pay you less than you legally deserve.
If you decide to pursue a personal injury suit, which is often the best way to obtain adequate compensation, you and your attorney must be able to prove the following:
- That the at-fault party had a duty to you. In the case of a car accident, this should be fairly simple to prove. All drivers have a duty to others to avoid causing injury and to act safely and responsibly.
- That the at-fault party breached this duty. If the distracted driver was acting negligently or recklessly, i.e. texting or otherwise being distracted, they certainly breached their duty of care to you. It’s known that these kinds of behaviors greatly increase the risk of accidents.
- That breach of duty caused your injuries. You’ll need to show the driver breaching their duty of care directly caused an accident, and therefore your injuries.
- That you suffered compensable damages as a result. This can be shown using your medical bills, evidence of lost wages, and any other ways that the accident directly placed a financial burden upon you.
What Kind of Damages Can I Recover from a Distracted Driving Accident?
Victims of distracted driving accidents may be eligible for a wide range of compensation, depending on the specifics of the case. Your experienced distracted driving attorney will review your case in great detail and determine what kinds of damages you may be eligible to receive. Generally, these can include:
- Medical bills and expenses
- Vehicle repair or replacement
- Additional property damage costs
- Lost wages, if the accident prevented you from working for any period of time
- Reduced overall earning capacity, if the accident will prevent you from returning to your previous form of employment
- The cost of ongoing pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life
Some things like “loss of enjoyment” may seem difficult to calculate, but that is the job of a good distracted driving accident lawyer. Your Giddens lawyer will be able to attach a number to all the ways in which the accident has impacted your life, ensuring you are fairly compensated for what you’ve been through.
What is Comparative Fault and What Does it Mean in a Distracted Driving Accident?
It’s not uncommon for more than one party to bear some degree of fault for an accident. Oftentimes, multiple factors come together to cause a collision, and the responsibility does not rest solely with one driver.
Imagine, for instance, that you pull into an intersection before there’s space for you to pull through entirely, and you’re left blocking the intersection when the light changes. Then, a distracted driver — someone texting — goes through the intersection on a green light and hits you. In a case like this, it’s certainly the distracted driver’s fault, but you may also bear some level of responsibility for blocking the intersection.
The good news is that in Mississippi, you may still collect damages even if you bear partial responsibility for the accident. Your damages are simply reduced by the percentage of fault you bear. So, for instance, if it’s determined that you are 20% responsible and the other driver is 80% responsible, and you are seeking damages of $100,000, that number will be reduced by 20% (your degree of fault). You would still be capable of then recovering $80,000 in damages.
Mississppi uses “pure comparative negligence”, which means you can collect a certain percentage of damages no matter how much fault you bear. Some other states use “modified comparative negligence”, which means you can collect damages only if you bear less than 50% fault.
Is There a Statute of Limitations on Distracted Driving Accidents?
A statute of limitations essentially says that you have a set amount of time after an incident or accident in which you can file a suit or pursue legal action.
These rules vary state to state, so it’s important to check your state and local laws. In Mississippi, accident victims have three years from the date of the car accident to file a suit. Once three years have passed, you will most likely be unable to pursue any form of compensation.
Why Choose a Giddens Law Firm Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer?
Giddens Law Firm is one of the premier personal injury firms in the state of Mississippi. Led by John D. Giddens, an exceptional attorney with decades of experience, Giddens Law Firm prioritizes a balance of speed and thoroughness; we approach each case with an ideology of diligence and attention to detail, ensuring that nothing falls through the cracks as we fight to protect your interests.
Our reviews and credentials speak for themselves, and we have helped countless victims achieve the justice and compensation they are owed.
We understand that being the victim of a distracted driving accident is nothing short of traumatic, but you don’t have to go through the aftermath alone. Every case we take on receives a thorough investigation and a tireless work ethic.
What’s more, when you work with our distracted driving accident lawyers, you don’t need to worry about racking up legal fees you can’t afford. We always discuss fees up front, so there are no mystery costs. Your consultation is always free, and we do not get paid unless you win.
We believe all victims deserve justice, and we aim to provide that. Don’t hesitate to reach out for a free initial consultation.