In the U.S., distracted driving is an epidemic that claims a disproportionate number of teenage lives each year and adults are also vulnerable to this threat. According to government statistics, 3,331 people were killed and over 387,000 people were injured in 2011 (most recent year of available statistics) in accidents attributed to distracted driving; this accounts for ten percent of all injury accidents during the year. Texting and cell phone use while driving are the most commonly reported forms of distracted driving, especially among younger motorists. Drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in an auto accident while texting. More than 20 percent of fatal crashes caused by distracted drivers under the age of 20 involved the use of cell phones for messaging, chatting or texting purposes.
More Than Just Statistical Data
In many cases, the distracted driver is not the one who suffers the most serious injuries in these accidents. Numerous cases of serious injuries and fatalities have occurred in which the driver was texting or talking on their cell phone and subsequently walked away with minor cuts and bruises or no injuries at all. Victims of these accidents, however, often suffered life-threatening injuries that required extensive recovery times and painful rehabilitation:
- In 2012, jurors awarded over $22 million in damages to a 37-year old Texas woman who was hit broadside by an employee of Coca-Cola who was engaged in conversation on her cell phone. Although the Coca-Cola employee was using a hands-free device to talk on her cell phone as required by company policy, the jury still found that the victim had suffered significant harm due to the distraction of the driver and that Coca-Cola was liable for the damages. The victim in the accident suffered serious spinal injuries that required surgery and continues to suffer 25 percent disabled status.
- A New Jersey couple recently reached a financial settlement with the teen who struck their motorcycle in 2012 while texting and driving. David and Linda Kubert each lost a leg in the accident. The driver who crashed into them, however, was required to pay fines amounting to $775 and was required to make appearances to discuss the risks of distracted driving with high school students. The teen driver’s insurance company was expected to foot the bill of $500,000 for the agreed-upon settlement.
- Another motorcyclist was critically injured in an accident in Connecticut when a texting driver hit his vehicle from behind as he waited in line at a traffic light on June 25, 2013. The motorcycle bounced off the SUV in front and landed on the windshield of the texting driver, causing serious injuries to the motorcyclist. Neither the texting driver nor the SUV driver required medical attention at the scene.
To receive fair and equitable auto accident compensation for injuries caused by drivers distracted by cell phones or texting activities, victims generally require the help of an experienced auto accident attorney to pursue their auto accident claims.
Protecting the Rights of Victims
Auto accident personal injury lawyers specialize in providing legal representation to help victims receive fair compensation for injuries, pain and suffering and property damages caused by the negligence of others. Insurance companies are highly motivated to offer minimal auto accident settlements, especially in cases where no auto accident attorney is involved in the proceedings. Especially for victims of accidents in which texting or cell phone use was a contributing factor, a qualified auto accident claims attorney can often negotiate for higher auto accident settlements and increased compensation for clients. Lawyers who specialize in auto accident personal injury claims and accident compensation can often acquire higher settlement figures and improved compensation for their clients in the courtroom setting as well.
Texting, chatting and other cell phone usage behind the wheel cost thousands of lives each year. For those injured in accidents involving these high-risk activities, enlisting the help of a knowledgeable and experienced car accident personal injury lawyer can ensure a fair settlement for these auto accident claims.