December 11, 2012
With the holiday season upon us, people tend to be more relaxed and carefree in how they conduct themselves. With all the holiday parties and after-work “happy hours,” people can get more easily distracted and fall into dangerous patterns of behavior. Principal among them is texting while driving. Texting while driving is a form of distracted driving that differs from driving while drunk which is a form of impairment. Regardless of the difference, the consequences of distracted driving can be equally tragic.
Did you know that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), a federal government agency dedicated to safety issues, more than 15 people are killed every day in America as a result of car accidents involving a distracted driver? That’s just the number killed. According to the CDC, another 1,200 people are injured each day, apart from those killed, in distracted driving crashes.
How big is the problem? The CDC reports that nearly 10% of drivers in the United States report texting or emailing “regularly or fairly often” while driving. As if that isn’t enough, 52% of American drivers age 18-29 report texting or emailing while driving at least once in the last 30 days and more than 25% report texting or emailing “regularly” or “fairly often.” While many states, including Nevada, have passed laws penalizing those who talk or text while driving, the solution to this growing problem will require a change in societal attitudes. If people truly understood the consequences that could result from distracted driving, they would be more cautious. Instead, most people think of drunk driving as a problem and have a hard time appreciating that texting while driving can be equally bad.
Given that it takes approximately 5-10 seconds to send the average text message, that amount of time can seem like an eternity when the person sending the message is behind the wheel. Imagine driving a car for 10 seconds with your eyes closed. The thought is very sobering and drives home the gravity of the conduct including the potential for tragedy.
Drivers who text while operating a car can be sued for negligence if they cause an accident. If you or a loved one is the victim of a distracted driver, you need to consult a skilled personal injury attorney that can help you achieve maximum compensation. The “proof” issues involved in a distracted driving case differ from the average car accident personal injury case. For example, to establish negligence, phone records will need to be pulled to show the party at fault was texting immediately before the accident occurred.
According to Ruth Cohen, a partner at Paul Padda Law, PLLC, these types of cases pose challenges but require aggressive lawyering to bring the insurance company quickly to the settlement table. “We are seeing more of these types of cases” notes Cohen who also adds “distracted driving is a problem with a solution: the solution is don’t get mad, get legal!