The public’s idea of what constitutes distracted driving has changed over the years. In reality, distracted driving served as the cause of numerous accidents long before the invention of the cell phone. Drivers who accidentally or deliberately took their focus off the road could cause severe accidents, whether they were eating, drinking, or even chatting with friends.
Today’s distracted driving legislation isn’t designed to curb the conversations drivers can have with their passengers or vice versa. However, that legislation does give you the right to investigate a driver’s behavior should their distraction lead to an accident. You can work with a Triumph Law, P.C. personal injury lawyer to fight for accident compensation.
Identifying Distracted Driving
As mentioned, distracted driving takes on a variety of forms. A motorist is as likely to cause an accident while eating french fries at the wheel as they are while chatting on the phone.
That said, the use of hand-held devices behind the wheel is still one of the most visually recognizable forms of distracted driving. That’s why California institutes its texting and driving legislation. The state makes it clear that no one over the age of 18 behind the wheel of a car may use their cell phones or electronic devices.
The only exception to this rule applies to hands-free devices. California drivers do have the right to use voice-to-text or AI assistants to make calls or send text messages. On the flip side, California drivers under 18 may not use hands-free or hand-held devices behind the wheel under any circumstances.
Distracted Driving as a Traffic Violation
Distracted driving involving a cell phone or related hand-held device constitutes a traffic violation in the eyes of California law enforcement. This means that parties accused of distracted driving may have to pay fines or otherwise contest their behavior in criminal court.
What does this mean for you as a survivor of a distracted driving accident? First and foremost, you still have the right to take civil action against the party responsible for your accident. That action, however, will not hurry along any criminal consequences an offending driver might face.
You can, however, use a criminal conviction to bolster your case for damages. You can work with a distracted driving car accident lawyer to claim that a criminal conviction represents proof of fault in your case. As such, an ongoing distracted driving case in criminal court may actually bolster your demand for damages.
Filing a Distracted Driving Car Accident Claim
It’s the negligence that contributes to distracted driving accidents that give you the right to take legal action against the offending party. If you choose to take advantage of your legal options, you need to bring that negligence to a judge’s attention. This means that you need to:
- Identify the person or party that you want to hold liable for your losses
- Make a claim regarding the value of the losses you faced in your accident
- Present evidence defending both of the aforementioned claims
What’s more, you need to compile and submit this information within California’s personal injury statute of limitations. California Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1 states that distracted driving car accident survivors have up to two years to investigate their losses. Your complaint must be made to a judge within this time if you want the right to demand damages.
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Evidence Established Distracted Driving Car Accident Liability
When you walk away from a distracted driving accident, you may think you have a good idea of who you want to hold liable for your losses. While that initial instinct can be powerful, it’s not always accurate. You need to follow the evidence if you want to accurately assign liability for your distracted driving car accident losses. This means that you should assess:
- Video, audio, and/or still footage of your accident
- Statements from bystanders
- Police reports
- Expert witness opinions, including statements from accident recreationists
- Social media statements
What to Do If You Get Into an Accident With a Rideshare Vehicle
Assigning liability in an accident involving a private motorist is one thing. Assigning liability in an accident involving a rideshare vehicle is another. If you get into an accident with a Lyft or an Uber, bring your losses to a personal injury attorney as soon as you can. Contract law can often obscure your right to legal action, but our team can sort through the miasma.
We specifically need to determine whether or not the rideshare driver was on duty at the time of your accident. If the driver had passengers in the car or was using a rideshare app to connect with passengers, you may have to take your claim for damages up against a rideshare company.
That said, if the driver wasn’t using a rideshare app at the time of your accident or was otherwise off-duty, that driver may be responsible for their own legal representation.
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Don’t Undervalue Your Distracted Driving Car Accident Losses
Your distracted driving case has inherent value. Whether you’re contending with a totaled car or what you believe to be minor injuries, you have the right to demand that a liable party help you address your post-accident financial stressors. To make those demands, however, you need to establish an estimate of your case’s value. This means you should find the sum of your:
- Medical expenses
- Lost property
- Wages lost while recovering
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
Do not undervalue your distracted driving car accident losses. Even if you think you understand the total value of your case, you should bring your losses to the attention of a personal injury attorney. We can make sure you’ve explored every avenue for compensation available to you. In turn, we can defend your right to losses you may not have considered before.
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Turn to a Distracted Driving Car Accident Lawyer for Legal Guidance
A motorist doesn’t have to be on their phone to be accused of distracted driving. Drivers who eat, drink, or otherwise lose focus while behind the wheel put you and everyone else on the road at risk for an accident. Should that distraction result in an accident, you can bring an at-fault driver’s negligence forward in civil court via a personal injury claim.
Distracted driving car crash lawyers can stand by you as you investigate your losses and argue for your right to compensation. You can contact Triumph Law and its team of experienced attorneys for help filing your claim within the applicable deadlines. Reach out to our team through our online contact form or by calling our office today.
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