Sacramento Distracted Driving Accident Attorneys
The aftermath of a distracted driving car accident is stark, and yet every year people make the conscious decision to talk, text, eat, and drink in their cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration calculated that in 2018, 2,841 lives were taken as a result of distracted driving. Loved ones were lost, countless others are still suffering from painful injuries and unpaid medical bills.
At Tiemann Law Firm, we have seen first-hand the damage that a distracted driving accident can have on victims and their friends and families. That is why our legal team is committed to helping individuals seek full and fair compensation following a serious collision. If you are facing the challenge of recovering from an accident with a distracted driver, let our legal team give you the advice and legal counsel you need to bounce back. Contact our Sacramento distracted driving accident lawyers at (916) 999-9000 and let us review your case for free.
What Constitutes Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving occurs when any device or behavior takes a driver’s eyes or attention off of the road and directs it to another task. Distracted driving is an umbrella term that encompasses more than just phone calls and texting. While phones are one of the most common culprits of distracted driving, a driver may also be distracted by a GPS system, eating or drinking, grooming themselves, or playing excessively loud music. To safely operate a vehicle, a driver needs both their eyes and their attention on the road and their surroundings.
When a driver takes their eyes off the road for even just five seconds, the average time it takes to check a text, going 55 mph that driver will have gone the length of an entire football field. That’s traveling that great distance essentially blind to the road and any potential hazards that may be in their path. Data compiled by the California Office of Traffic Safety found that in 2019, 58 percent of California drivers surveyed said they have been hit or nearly hit by a driver that was talking or texting while driving. Those are sobering numbers for California drivers.
Common Types of Distractions
Distractions come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are essentially three common types of distractions that can put drivers at risk of having an accident.
- Visual distractions: These distractions are commonly attributed to cell phones and other mobile devices. A visual distraction is anything that takes a driver’s eyes off the road for any given period of time. This could be to look down at a notification on a phone, check a GPS system, looking down at the stereo dial, or even talking to or interacting with a distracting passenger. A visual distraction keeps a driver’s eyes off the road, meaning they may miss a pedestrian crossing the road, miss seeing a stopped car ahead of them, or fail to see any number of other changes in road conditions.
- Manual distractions: A manual distraction is defined as any type of activity that occupies a driver’s hands and takes them away from the wheel, even for a moment. Texting is the most common manual distraction but eating, drinking, entering information into a GPS, and grooming oneself, are also all forms of manual distraction. A manual distraction takes a driver’s hands away from the wheel, meaning when they notice a hazard or change in a traffic situation, they may not be able to regain control of the wheel quickly enough to react to the new circumstances.
- Cognitive distraction: This type of distraction involves a scenario where the driver’s mind wanders. Their eyes may be on the road, their hands may be on the wheel, but their mind and thoughts are far, far away, meaning they are not focusing on the act of driving. It may feel like being on autopilot. A driver can get from point A to point B but have little to no memory of the journey or how they managed it. This is a common example of cognitive distraction.
Distracted driving can happen to anyone at any time. Recent data does show that many drivers who cause accidents due to distracted driving tend to be young adults and teenagers. In 2018, adults aged 20 to 29 were responsible for 25 percent of all distracted driving fatalities in the U.S., and at least nine percent of all teens who died in a car crash were killed in crashes that involved distracted driving. While this CDC data finds that teens and young adults are most at risk for causing an accident while distracted, anyone not paying attention to the road can find themselves in a serious situation.
Injuries Related to Distracted Driving Accidents
Driving while distracted impairs an individual’s ability to see and respond to changes in traffic patterns or upcoming road hazards. This is the core of what makes a distracted driving accident so devastating to victims. When a driver does not see or has no time to respond to a change in circumstances, they tend to impact other vehicles at a higher rate of speed. The energy of the crash can cause serious damage and massive injuries to those involved.
These injuries can impact a victim in the short-term by creating large and unexpected medical bills and forcing a victim to take time off work to recuperate. Depending on the accident, these types of collisions can also cause long-term financial hardship, injuries that require significant rehabilitation, or injuries that require major life changes. Some of the most common types of injuries that are caused by distracted driving accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Head, neck, or back injuries
- Facial injuries
- Fractured bones
- Internal bleeding
- Chest and rib injuries
- Organ damage
- Knee injuries
- Cuts and bruises
- Wrongful Death
Depending on the severity of the injury, a victim may be looking at extensive medical bills for hospitalization, comprehensive medical tests, follow-up appointments, prescriptions, physical therapy, and more. The pain of the physical injuries is often amplified by the mental stress and anxiety of worrying about how to pay for all the medical bills while still making ends meet.
The legal team at Tiemann Law Firm can take some of that immense burden off of your shoulders, allowing you to focus on your recovery while we focus on the best way to go about seeking compensation for the accident. Even if an insurance company tells you they’ll “take care of it,” make sure to seek out the legal advice of an experienced Sacramento car accident attorney. We can help you find the best legal option for your situation. Whether it is a lawsuit or helping you aggressively negotiate with an insurance company, we seek to help you recover the maximum amount of compensation you may be entitled to.
Is Compensation Available for Distracted Driving Accidents?
California allows victims involved in accidents with negligent drivers to seek compensation for both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are easier to calculate than non-economic damages. Economic damages are all the measurable losses that a victim suffers as a result of the crash. These include:
- Current and future medical expenses related to the accident
- Loss of income
- Loss of earning capacity
- Property damage
Non-economic damages are more difficult to calculate because they impact a victim’s emotional well-being and possibly even their quality of life. These things are much harder to put a price tag on and are often subjective. Non-economic damages can include:
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship
- Pain and suffering
However, totaling up the amount of compensation a victim may be entitled to is only step one in the process of recovering compensation. California also has a regulation that stipulates how the damages are allocated after an accident. This is known as California’s “pure comparative negligence” rule. In a state that follows a pure comparative negligence model the amount of compensation a party may recover is tied directly to the percentage of fault they bear for causing the accident itself. It works like this. If a driver is hit by a distracted driver, either the courts or an insurance adjuster could deem that distracted driver to be 90 percent responsible for the accident. However, if the first driver was also going a little fast at the time, they may be deemed to be 10 percent responsible for the circumstances of the accident. Therefore, that victim would be entitled to recover the full amount of damages, minus 10 percent. If the damages total $200,000, then the victim can recover $180,000.
In a pure comparative negligence state like California, even the more at-fault driver in this scenario is allowed to recover compensation. However, they would only be entitled to $20,000, seeing as how they were at fault for 90 percent of the accident. They or their insurance company would also be on the hook for paying the $180,000 to the other driver.
Contact an Experienced Sacramento Car Accident Attorney
You had your eyes on the road, you were paying attention to your surroundings, and yet here you are injured and anxious because another driver made the choice to drive while distracted. Should you be forced to pay for your numerous expenses out of your own pocket?
At Tiemann Law Firm, we help victims like you hold distracted drivers accountable for their actions while aggressively pursuing the maximum amount of compensation you may be due following an accident. Before you talk to anyone, even the insurance company, talk to us. Let one of our experienced Sacramento car accident attorneys help you navigate the complex ins and outs of a serious car accident. Call us today at (916) 999-9000 and let us review the circumstances of your case. We even offer a free consultation to help get you moving in the right direction.