Driving takes us devoting our full attention to the roadway. One small distraction that takes a motorist’s eyes off the road could cause a catastrophic accident that results in a vehicle’s occupants suffering serious injuries or an innocent pedestrian losing their life.
A Baton Rouge distracted driving lawyer at Bianca | Matkins is here, ready to advocate for you if the other driver wasn’t focused on what they were doing and caused a serious accident that left you with severe injuries or claimed the life of your close loved one. Let our Louisiana law firm handle building your distracted driving accident case necessary to recover compensation for your losses so that you can work on getting better or grieving your loss. Schedule your initial no-risk, free consultation today.
How Common Is Distracted Driving?
The latest National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data from 2020 shows that distracted driving is, unfortunately, quite common not just in Louisiana but throughout the United States. One alarming statistic is that at least an estimated 13% of all crashes in 2020 were caused by distracted driving.
Those federal statistics also show that in 2020,
- At least 324,652 people suffered injuries in auto accidents caused by distracted driving
- 3,142 individuals died in an accident attributable to distracted driving, with at least 587 of those victims being either bicyclists or pedestrians
As for state-specific data, statistics compiled by the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission show that at least 23,010 individuals were injured in accidents attributable to distractions. There were 193 distraction-related fatalities that occurred in our state between 2016 and 2020.
Common Distractions That Command Baton Rouge Motorists’ Attention
Our legal team has extensive experience handling distracted driving accident cases. During our decades representing clients, we’ve found that the following are some of the more common distractions that cause Louisiana drivers to become involved in car accidents:
- Utilizing a global positioning system (GPS)
- Conversing with others in the vehicle
- Engaging in personal grooming, such as using an electric shaver or putting on makeup
- Looking for something in one’s purse or automobile
- Utilizing the car’s temperature controls or changing the radio
- Drinking or eating
A lack of familiarity with an area, inclement weather, and sightseeing while driving (such as staring at a motor vehicle accident as you pass it by) can also be distracting and result in a preventable crash.
Why Are Driving Distractions So Dangerous?
A motorist that is visually distracted is one that has removed their eyes from the road. Visual distractions are dangerous in and of itself. However, when cognitive distractions and manual distractions occur, they can affect drivers in multiple other ways, including:
- Cognitive distractions: Anything that takes a driver’s attention off the road is a cognitive distraction. Emotionally-charged thoughts and crying, reading an e-book, or having a video chat while operating a vehicle can all distract a driver mentally from what’s happening on the road.
- Manual distractions: It’s important for drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel while operating their vehicles to ensure they maintain proper control over their automobiles. All of the different distractors listed in the previous section have the potential to cause a motorist to remove one or both hands from the wheel, making it challenging to adequately maneuver their cars if a pedestrian, wildlife, another vehicle, or any other hazard were to unexpectedly enter their path.
Distracted driving can affect motorists on many levels, but perhaps most notably in terms of slowing their reaction times. This explains why distracted drivers are particularly vulnerable to causing or otherwise becoming entangled in crashes.
Types of Motor Vehicle Accidents Attributable to Distracted Driving
Various types of crashes can result from a motorist being distracted. Some of the more common examples of collisions that are attributable to distractions include:
- Rear-end crashes: These collisions often occur because a motorist takes their eyes off the road for a few seconds to look at their phone or GPS and fails to realize the light has changed and someone has stopped in front of them, thus colliding with them.
- Sideswipe accidents: A short distraction may lead a motorist to venture to one side or another within their lane, causing them to collide with the side panel of vehicles in nearby lanes.
- Head-on collisions: Longer distractions, such as reaching for something in the vehicle, can cause a motorist to travel out of their lane into oncoming traffic, causing a head-on collision.
- T-bone accidents: A motorist who is preoccupied with a conversation they’re having on their phone or with passengers in their vehicle may not stop at an intersection as they should, thus colliding with pedestrians or motorists who have the right of way.
Distracted driving accidents are much like other types of motor vehicle crashes. Anything that takes a driver’s full attention off what they’re doing while behind the wheel of their vehicle, whether it’s texting while driving, drunk driving, or drowsy driving, all have the potential of resulting in a car wreck that leaves Louisiana drivers with catastrophic injuries or dead.
How Distractions Impact the Severity of Injuries Baton Rouge Car Accident Victims Suffer
There’s a wide range of injuries that can stem from a distracted driving crash, as hinted at above. The type of motor vehicle accident that occurred will be one of the primary factors affecting injury types; although the following concerns may also impact this:
- The speed the vehicles were traveling at when the crash occurred
- The size of the vehicles involved in the Baton Rouge car accident
As you may suspect, pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists who lack the protection of a vehicle’s shell are most vulnerable to suffering the most serious injuries when an accident occurs.
Some of the more common injuries that afflict distracted driving accident victims include:
- Head or traumatic brain injuries
- Back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Broken bones
Some of the injuries stemming from personal injury accidents aren’t readily apparent. A traumatic brain injury or internal organ damage are two examples of this. Auto accident victims may not initially have any apparent symptoms, but their health can take a turn for the worse pretty quickly.
This is why all motorists involved in crashes should seek medical treatment right away after a car accident. Doing so allows them to receive immediate medical care. Seeing a doctor immediately if you’re concerned that you’ve suffered a personal injury can minimize the chances of you experiencing a progressive and irreversible deterioration of your health.
Louisiana Laws Prohibiting Distracted Driving
While the use of one’s cell phone isn’t the only thing that can distract motorists, as is evident by reviewing the listing of potential distractions above, it has perhaps become the biggest distractor. This is why Louisiana Revised Statutes, R.S. 32:300.5, prohibits texting and driving among all motorists. Additional state laws forbid:
- The use of phones, even hands-free, in school zones during designated hours
- Non-hands-free cell phone use among motorists holding an intermediate driver’s license or Class E learner’s permit
Understanding Louisiana Liability Laws That Apply to Car Accidents
Louisiana is an at-fault insurance state, which means that the motorist deemed to have caused an auto accident is responsible for covering any damages the victim incurred as a result. Injured victims must prove that the at-fault party’s negligence directly resulted in them suffering harm, though.
There are four elements that Baton Rouge car accident victims must prove to ensure successful distracted driving claims, including:
- The alleged negligent driver owed the victim a duty of care (to operate their motor vehicle safely)
- The distracted driver breached the standard of care they owed other drivers
- The distraction resulted in the responsible driver causing a crash
- The harm that the distracted driver caused the struck motorists caused them to sustain damages
Louisiana additionally subscribes to the pure comparative negligence doctrine. This rule limits the amount a car accident victim can recover by their percentage of fault if they contributed to their own injuries in some way.
Establishing careless drivers’ liability is one of the more challenging aspects associated with filing a personal injury claim. Our car accident attorneys at Bianca | Matkins are here to guide you through all stages of building an injury claim so that you can recover full and fair compensation in your Baton Rouge case.
What Types of Losses Can Distracted Driving Accident Victims Have?
Injuries caused by the car accident lead victims to incur significant medical bills. These medical expenses may include:
- Emergency room or urgent care treatment
- Surgical costs
- Rehabilitative care, such as occupational or physical therapy
- Counseling or therapy
In addition to past, ongoing, and future medical care, victims can also seek compensation for property damage and lost wages they incurred if a driver who wasn’t paying attention caused them to become involved in a car accident.
Financial compensation is also available to car crash victims who have suffered noneconomic losses, such as:
- Mental anguish or emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Losses of companionship, consortium, or enjoyment of life
Judges can also impose punitive damages if the primary offense that resulted in such an event as a crash was particularly negligent. The Court often imposes damages of this sort in accident cases caused by intoxicated motorists.
Statutes of Limitations Applicable to Baton Rouge Distracted Driving Accident Cases
Any person harmed in a distracted driving crash has one year to file a personal injury claim with the insurance company of the other vehicle per Louisiana Civil Code (CC) 3492. A Louisiana texting and driving accident victim generally loses their right to take legal action once that statute of limitations has passed, except in extenuating circumstances, such as if the onset of the claimant’s injury wasn’t apparent until sometime after the crash initially occurred.
You can expect your attorney to assess whether the statute of limitations has run out when you meet with them for your free initial consultation.
Evidence To Compile After a Baton Rouge Distracted Driving Car Accident
Proving that the other driver was distracted in the moments before they struck you isn’t as easy as it may initially appear. While having a dashcam set up in your motor vehicle can definitely come in handy in certain situations, such as if it captures a motorist gazing out of the window at road construction for a prolonged period of time, it’s not as useful in situations where a distracted driver is covertly utilizing their phone in their lap.
Barring any dashcam or surveillance camera footage, your best bet may be to notify the responding police officer of your suspicions surrounding distractions. Law enforcement may be able to request to view the driver’s phone at the crash scene under certain circumstances, such as with the driver’s consent, ahead of issuing a citation. If that doesn’t happen, your accident lawyer may be able to assist you in subpoenaing the records after the fact as they build your personal injury lawsuit.
If there’s no video footage and there weren’t any citations issued, then witness accounts may come in handy. A bystander or another driver may have noticed the motorist who struck you having a video chat on their phone while riding down the road, for example. Anything like this that a witness saw can be placed in an affidavit and used as evidence of another driver’s negligence.
Where To Turn if a Distracted Driver Injured You in Baton Rouge
Many car crash victims often initially opt to handle their cases on their own, but quickly realize how quick insurance companies are to deny liability or, alternatively, how persistent they can be to settle a case with a lowball offer. Many prospective clients reach out to personal injury lawyers like ours at Bianca | Matkins in situations like these.
While our personal injury lawyers can certainly help out when a Baton Rouge texting or another type of distracted driving case is at a later stage, having us negotiate with an insurance company from the get-go best protects your rights.
Each Baton Rouge distracted driving accident lawyer on our Bianca | Matkins team offers a free case evaluation. During that no-obligation consultation, our attorneys can assess the merits of your claim and advise you of your legal options so you can make the best choice about how to proceed in your case. So, reach out to us now to schedule that initial conversation with one of our personal injury attorneys. The time to take legal action is winding down.