Distracted Driving Accidents

When an accident caused by a distracted driver leads to severe or fatal injuries, a lawsuit may be necessary, to ensure that liability is properly established against the negligent driver, and that the injured victim is fairly compensated.

Distracted Driving: An Increasing Problem

pic-bicycle-accidentsIf you spend any time on the roads, chances are high that you’ve seen distracted drivers.

They might be texting, talking on their cell phones, posting to social media, or programming GPS devices. They might be eating, adjusting the radio, fixing their hair or makeup, writing a note, or even reading a book. They might also have their stereos too loud, be wearing headphones, or be paying too much attention to others in the car, and not the roadway ahead.

Whatever the reason, distracted driving is on the rise. In a recent survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, distracted driving topped the list of growing dangers cited by drivers.

Lancaster County is no exception. As was recently reported by Lancaster Online, a new report from the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts shows that “distracted driving citations increased by more than 100 percent in Lancaster County in 2017”—an amount significantly higher than in many other parts of Pennsylvania. In 2016, for example, Lancaster County was on par with neighboring Berks County for distracted driving citations, but in 2017 had 46 more such citations than Berks.

Distracted drivers are one of the most significant dangers to the safety of others on the road. They are more likely to veer out of their lanes; fail to obey traffic signals, like red lights and stop signs; fail to brake for stopped traffic; fail to stop for pedestrians, who may have the right of way; and fail to observe bicyclists or motorcycle drivers who are lawfully sharing the roadways.

A recent study from the AAA Foundation found that drivers talking on cell phones are up to four times as likely to crash, and that, for those who text, the odds double, at up to eight times as likely to crash.

Prohibited Activities

Since 2012, Pennsylvania law has prohibited motor vehicle operators from texting, e-mailing, or engaging in other kinds of messaging while driving, regardless of whether they are reading, writing, or sending a message (75 Pa. C.S.A § 3316), and since 2016, if a driver kills someone while violating this law, that can mean jail time. 75 Pa. C.S.A. § 3316(b)(1.1). Despite these risks, however—and the significant danger of hurting others or themselves—many drivers simply cannot resist the urge.

Pennsylvania law also prohibits drivers from wearing headphones while driving (75 Pa. C.S.A. § 3314), but with the prevalence of smartphones that play music, podcasts, videos, and the like, some drivers likewise can be seen using them.

While many activities that might cause a driver to be distracted are not, in themselves, prohibited by law, if they cause a driver to become reckless, that can lead to a citation, and, if the driver injures someone else, that can lead to serious legal liability.

Indeed, with the advent of smartphones, recent cases have tested new legal theories, such as whether the sender of a text message may be liable for injuries caused by a driver receiving the message.

Contact an Attorney

If you were injured as a result of a distracted driver, or the surviving family member of someone killed by a distracted driver, you may be entitled to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for pain, suffering, wage loss, out-of- pocket expenses, and other damages, possibly including punitive damages.

A lawyer can help you determine the strength of your case and the damages to which you are legally entitled.

Because a lawyer can help you to preserve evidence, such as text messaging records, that may be important to proving your case—and that you may not be able to obtain on your own—it is better to act sooner than later. In addition, it is important to keep in mind that Pennsylvania imposes a two-year statute of limitations, from the date of an accident, on the time that you have to file a personal injury lawsuit.

The attorneys at Georgelis Injury Law Firm, P.C. have the knowledge, skill, and experience to help victims of distracted driving and will fight for the compensation your case deserves.

______________________

Sources:
Tamara Johnson, “Distraction Tops Drivers’ List of Growing Dangers on the Road,” AAA Newsroom, March 29, 2018 (available at:
https://newsroom.aaa.com/2018/03/distraction-tops-drivers-list-growing-dangers-road/)
Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania, “Distracted Driving Citations in Pennsylvania See Significant Jump,” April 2, 2018 (available at: http://www.pacourts.us/assets/files/newsrelease-1/file-6970.pdf#search=%22distracted%20driving%22)
Tom Knapp, “Distracted Driving Citations Moe Than Doubled in Lancaster County Last Year,”Lancaster Online, April 4, 2018 (available at https://lancasteronline.com/news/local/distracted-driving-citations-more-than-doubled-in-lancaster-county- last/article_7c5cac7c-377d-11e8-b459-eb3c56d31fc0.html).