With the prevalence of mobile devices and the need for people to constantly feel connected, it’s no surprise that distracted driving accidents have risen sharply.
The CDC estimates that 8 Americans are killed every day in crashes involving distracted driving. Illinois has strengthened enforcement to combat distracted driving and reduce fatalities, but in Chicago, enforcement has been lacking; the city was far below the state average for unlawful cell phone use citations issued in 2018.
If you are in an accident and suspect distracted driving is a factor, there are a few things you should take care of at the scene to keep yourself and others safe and start building a case for your recovery.
If you’re injured, call for help right away. If you can, get yourself and any passengers to safety away from the road. Take photos and video of the accident scene to document damages and injuries. If any witnesses saw the accident, make a note of their contact information.
The responding officer will fill out a report detailing the people and vehicles involved, the damages, and other circumstances such as road conditions.
Tell the officer at the scene if you think the other driver was distracted and influenced the accident. Provide as many details as possible, such as if you saw the driver holding their phone or noticed them looking away from the road prior to the accident.
The manner of collision can also help the police establish fault, especially in distracted driving cases. For example, a lack of skid marks from the other driver’s car could indicate that the driver didn’t attempt to brake or avoid the crash because they weren’t paying attention.
The officer may also issue a citation to one or both drivers at the scene, which can indicate fault. For example, if a witness saw the other driver eating or drinking at the wheel, the officer will likely issue them a citation which can back up your account of the accident.
No matter who you believe is at fault, get a copy of the police report — it doesn’t always have the final say concerning fault, but it can be crucial to your insurance claim or lawsuit against the distracted driver.
Illinois prohibits cell phones while driving, but drivers 19 and over may use hands-free or Bluetooth devices. Drivers may only use a cell phone on the road to contact emergency services or while their vehicle is parked and out of the flow of traffic.
In Illinois, texting and driving is a primary offense, which means a police officer can pull you over and issue a citation if they see you even holding a cell phone while driving.
There are three main types of distracted driving:
Using a handheld device while driving is hazardous because it involves all three kinds of distracted driving. Using hands-free settings to make or accept phone calls is marginally safer but still a cognitive distraction.
It can be difficult to prove the other driver was distracted in your accident. Fortunately, there are a few ways of gathering evidence to prove a distraction, such as:
If you work with a lawyer, you may also be able to subpoena the other driver’s cell phone records to verify they were on the phone or texting during the accident.
Unfortunately, Chicago police have not been as tough on distracted driving enforcement as the rest of Illinois. One article attributes this to a change in the law in 2015, which required officers to go to court for traffic violations instead of having tickets adjudicated by an administrative law judge.
The recent decrease of distracted driving citations from Chicago police indicates that the department’s priorities lie elsewhere.
Illinois car insurance law follows the at-fault rule. If you are in an accident caused by a distracted driver, that driver is at fault for the accident, and you can file a claim with their insurance to recover compensation for your damages.
You can file a claim and/or lawsuit to recover damages for your vehicle repairs, medical bills, and more.
Drivers in Illinois must carry a minimum of $20,000 property and $25,000/$50,000 bodily injury coverage. If your damages exceed the other driver’s insurance limit, you can file an injury lawsuit to recover additional damages.
Suppose you lost a family member in an accident caused by a distracted driver. In that case, you may be able to recover damages from the responsible party if the other driver committed a wrongful act. To do so, you must prove three elements were present:
Distracted driving accidents are largely preventable, but if you are involved in one due to someone else’s negligence, having a lawyer can help. The other driver’s insurance may try to refute that the driver was distracted to avoid paying for your damages, or they might offer a lowball settlement to get you to settle quickly.
Your attorney will negotiate on your behalf to hold the distracted driver responsible and make sure you receive appropriate compensation no matter how you decide to pursue your case.
When you hire Staver, you gain an advocate who is just as passionate about fighting distracted driving and holding the other driver accountable. Staver will go to great lengths to maximize the value of your claim and find evidence of the other driver’s distraction.
Since it might be difficult to prove distracted driving, you may have questions about getting evidence and making your case. Here are some common questions about distracted driving.
You may see the glow of a cell phone or device on the other driver’s face, especially if the accident occurred at night. If you see the other driver with their head turned away from the road or hands off the wheel for any reason, tell the responding officer at the scene as many details as you can remember.
Possibly, yes. If you work with a distracted driving accident lawyer, they can subpoena the other driver’s cell phone records to show that they were on a phone call or sending a text at the time of the accident.
Distracted driving is dangerous because it takes your attention away from the only things you should focus on behind the wheel: the road and nearby drivers.
When you look away from the road or don’t pay attention, even for a second, you risk losing precious time to react to a dangerous situation, which can mean the difference between being involved in a minor fender-bender or a serious or even fatal crash.
You shouldn’t go up against a distracted driver or their insurance company by yourself. For help pursuing your case and focusing on recovery for your damages, contact Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. today. Our car accident attorneys serve clients throughout the Chicago area, including Aurora, Elgin, Hinsdale, Joliet, Naperville, and Waukegan.
When you’re fighting for maximum compensation, we know what it takes to get it.
We’re ready to fight for you. We’re ready to be your ally. And we’re ready to start right now. Don’t waste time, contact our law offices today.FREE CASE EVALUATION – (312) 236-2900
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