When you’re behind the wheel of the car, it can be hard to focus solely on the road. With smartphones, GPS systems, and other technology filling our vehicles, it’s all too easy to get distracted. Yet taking your eyes, hands, or mind off of the road is incredibly dangerous – responsible for 3,142 traffic deaths in 2019 alone.
Distracted drivers are a huge problem throughout California, even though using your cell phone or another device while driving is illegal in our state. If you have been hurt in an auto accident with a distracted driver, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries. Through a personal injury lawsuit, you could recover money for your lost wages, property damage, medical bills, pain and suffering, and other losses.
The Kuvara Law Firm is dedicated to helping accident victims get the money that they deserve for their injuries. We are fierce advocates, working hard to get the maximum compensation. Reach out today to schedule a free consultation with a texting-while-driving attorney in San Rafael, California.
Proving Distracted Driving
Car accident claims are typically based on a theory of negligence, which is the failure to use the level of care that a reasonable person would in a similar situation. Typically, the injury victim (plaintiff) has to prove four elements (duty, breach, causation, and damages) to recover compensation for their injuries. In a distracted driving case, however, negligence may be presumed if the other driver broke California’s cell phone law when causing the accident.
This is known as negligence per se. If the at-fault driver (defendant) injured someone while violating a law, then they may be presumed to have been negligent. To establish negligence per se, a plaintiff will have to show:
- The defendant violated a statute, ordinance, or regulation;
- This violation caused death or injury to a person or property;
- The death or injury was the type of harm that the law was designed to protect; and
- The person who was hurt was within the class of people that the law sought to protect.
In California, it is against the law to use a cell phone or handheld device while operating a motor vehicle. If you can show that the other driver was using their phone or another device while driving and that this caused a distracted driving accident, then negligence may be presumed. Cell phone records and other types of evidence might be used to prove that the other driver broke the law.
Of course, not all distracted driving crashes are a result of smartphone use. For example, if the other driver had a manual distraction – such as rooting in their purse to find something – then they might not have broken a law. In this situation, you will need to prove that they were negligent, or careless.
To prove distracted driving, your distracted driving attorney will thoroughly investigate the facts of the accident. This may include reviewing statements from the other driver and passengers, requesting a police report, and interviewing witnesses. Even if the other driver did not violate California’s distracted driving laws, there are still ways to gather evidence to prove that they were negligent in some way.
When to Hire an Attorney for your Distracted Driving Accident Claim
In the aftermath of a distracted driving accident, you may be approached by a claims adjuster who works for the at-fault driver’s insurance company. They may ask you for a statement or to sign paperwork. They may even offer you a settlement.
It is never a good idea to talk to an insurance adjuster or sign anything before consulting with a texting-while-driving attorney. Remember: the insurance company makes money by minimizing the amount that they pay on legitimate claims like yours. They will use a number of tactics that are designed to get you to give up your legal rights or undermine your personal injury claim.
For this reason, it is vital to reach out to a personal injury law firm as soon as possible after a distracted driving wreck. During a free initial consultation, you can get advice on your rights and options for pursuing a claim. If you decide to hire a distracted driving accident lawyer, they will get to work right away on your claim.
Your attorney will handle all communications with the insurance company for you. This ensures that you don’t accidentally say or do something that could damage your case – and leaves you to focus on what is truly important: your health.
The insurance claims process typically starts with a demand letter, which outlines the facts of the accident and the legal reason why their insured is liable and makes a demand for damages (compensation). Typically, the insurance company will respond to a demand letter with a counteroffer. The parties will then go back and forth in an attempt to negotiate a settlement.
The majority of personal injury cases are settled without going to trial. However, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit if the insurance company won’t make a fair settlement offer. This doesn’t mean that you will have to go to court – it is simply the next step in the process.
The parties will continue to negotiate throughout the pretrial phase, while simultaneously exchanging information in a process known as discovery. If the insurance company refuses to offer a settlement that covers all of your losses, then your lawyer will take the case to trial. There, they will present evidence, make arguments, and question witnesses before asking a jury to return a verdict in your favor.
How a Lawyer Can Help You Get Compensation
In a personal injury claim, you may be entitled to financial compensation for all losses associated with the crash. Too often, insurance companies try to get injury victims to settle for pennies on the dollar. A skilled texting-while-driving accident attorney can help you get fair compensation for your injuries.
Damages in a personal injury lawsuit may include money for:
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Medical expenses
- Future medical treatment
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
In some cases, punitive damages – which are meant to penalize a wrongdoer – may also be available.
A skilled personal injury lawyer will gather bills, invoices, and medical records to put together a strong claim for damages. They will also consult with experts who can put a dollar figure on intangible losses – such as trauma. In this way, you can ensure that you get the highest possible recovery for your losses.
Studies show that people who are represented by counsel in a personal injury claim recover 40% more than people who represent themselves. When it comes to a distracted driving claim, you can’t afford to not hire an accident attorney.
Personal injury lawyers typically handle cases on a contingency fee basis. This type of fee arrangement means that you’ll pay nothing upfront to hire an attorney. Instead, your lawyer will be paid a percentage of your total recovery, whether the case is resolved via settlement or verdict at trial.
Finally, in California, there is a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims. With a few exceptions, this means that if you don’t file a lawsuit within two years of the date of the accident, then your claim will be barred. A seasoned distracted driving accident attorney will ensure that if it is necessary to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver, it is filed on time to preserve your legal rights.
Causes of Distracted Driving Accidents
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving is any activity that takes attention away from the road, including talking or texting on the phone, changing the music, putting data into the navigation system, eating and drinking, or even talking with other people in the car. There are three main categories of distracted driving:
- Visual distractions: taking your eyes off of the road for any reason, such as to glance at an incoming text message
- Manual distractions: taking your hands off the wheel, such as to grab something from the backseat of the car
- Cognitive distractions: taking your mind off of driving, such as engaging in a conversation with a passenger
Distracted driving is unfortunately far too common in the United States. In 2018, more than 2,800 people were killed and over 400,000 people were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. Approximately 20% of people who were killed in these accidents were not in a vehicle – they were pedestrians, runners, or bicyclists.
Common causes of distracted driving accidents include:
- Talking on the phone
- Texting or emailing while driving
- Adjusting the music or climate controls
- Talking to passengers
- Eating or drinking
- Not looking at the road
- Moving objects
- Using or reaching for an electronic device
- Being lost in thought
- Personal grooming
No matter what the cause maybe, if you are injured in a distracted driving accident, you will need an experienced personal injury attorney who can fight for your right to full compensation.
Like other types of motor vehicle accidents, crashes that result from distracted driving can cause serious or even catastrophic injuries. Our law firm has experience representing clients who have suffered all types of minor and severe injuries, from broken bones and bruising to traumatic brain injury (TBI), paralysis, and even death. For each case, our goal is to help our clients achieve the best possible outcome through skilled, strategic advocacy and smart negotiating.
Can You Sue a Distracted Driver for an Accident in California?
Yes. If a distracted driver caused an accident and you suffered any losses as a result, then you can file a lawsuit against them. The process typically starts with filing a claim with their insurance company.
Most car accident claims are settled without going to court. However, it is important to work with a top-notch texting-while-driving attorney to maximize your potential claim. Reach out to the Kuvara Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation.
Do You Need a Lawyer for a Distracted Driving Accident?
Yes. Although the insurance company may try to convince you that you can resolve the claim without legal representation, this is often a bad idea. The insurer does not have your best interests at heart; their interest is to settle your case for as little money as possible.
For this reason, it is important to work with an experienced San Rafael car accident attorney. They can take on the insurance company for you, and help you get maximum compensation for your losses. Contact the Kuvara Law Firm today for a free consultation.
What If I Was Partially at Fault for the Distracted Driving Accident?
Even if you were somewhat responsible for a distracted driving crash, you can still file a claim against the at-fault driver for your losses. California follows the principle of comparative negligence, which means that an injury victim is not barred from filing a claim even if they were partially at fault for the crash. Instead, their total recovery will be reduced by the percentage that they were at fault.
Comparative negligence claims can be complicated. If you have been hurt in a distracted driving crash, contact the Kuvara Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation about your case.
How We Help Accident Victims
Despite laws that prohibit the use of cell phones and hands-free devices in California, distracted driving remains a major problem throughout the state. If you have been hurt in an accident with a distracted driver, you are not alone. Our law firm is here to help.
Based in San Rafael, the Kuvara Law Firm has offices throughout Northern California to meet the needs of our clients. We are dedicated to helping our clients get the best possible outcome, whether that means skillfully negotiating a fair settlement or taking a case to trial to ask a jury to find in your favor. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation with a San Rafael car accident lawyer, give us a call at 415-479-7070 or fill out an online contact form.