Lehigh Valley: 610-435-7400

Philadelphia: 215-567-6616

Distracted Driving and Personal Injury Suits

Use the phrase “distracted driving,” and most people will assume that you are speaking either about texting or about talking on the phone while you’re behind the wheel of a car. Managing a smartphone while you’re operating a motor vehicle is certainly a dangerous activity; according to the annual report issued by the National Safety Council (NSC) in 2014, 26 percent of all car accidents were related in some way to cellphone use. Many other activities constitute distracted driving too, however, and they all have the potential to be dangerous. Consulting with an experienced Philadelphia accident attorney can help you determine whether you can seek damages for a collision you were involved in that was caused by distracted driving.

What Is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving takes place any time you are sitting behind the controls of a vehicle and your attention is not fully focused on the road ahead of you. Some distractions, like eating and drinking in a car or turning the knob of your radio, require you to take one or both hands off your vehicle’s steering wheel. Other distractions primarily involve your eyes, such as when you momentarily scan the floor on the passenger’s side looking for your wallet or you turn your head to talk to the someone seated next to you. Finally, there are distractions that involve a cognitive shift as when you rubberneck at an accident on the highway.

Hard statistics related to distracted driving can be difficult to come by according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but the organization estimates that in 2015 alone, nearly 3,500 people were killed in distracted driving-related incidents and that an additional 391,000 were injured. The NSC notes that 27 percent of all motor vehicle accidents that same year involved the use of cellphones.

Teen drivers are at particularly high risk for distracted driving incidents. The American Automobile Association’s Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that 58 percent of all motor vehicle accidents involving teens are related in some way to distracted driving.

Distracted Driving Laws in Pennsylvania

Every state has its own laws pertaining to distracted driving. A ban against texting while driving has been in place in Pennsylvania since 2012. The Keystone State prohibits motorists from using any type of “interactive wireless communication device” to write or read messages while driving.

Pennsylvania law does not prohibit motorists from talking on the phone or using the internet to read emails. Additionally, if a police officer suspects texting and pulls a motorist over to the side of the road, the only way the officer can prove that texting took place is by checking the motorist’s phone, and the motorist is not required to let the officer look at the phone.

Of course, phone records that demonstrate texting took place can be subpoenaed, but this is an arduous process for a summary offense that only carries a $50 fine. No point penalty is associated with the violation, and it will not be noted on a commercial driver’s record as a sanctioned violation. Even though texting is a major problem on Pennsylvania roads, only slightly more than 1,300 citations have been issued in the six years since the law went into effect.

When You’re a Victim of Distracted Driving

If you’re a victim of distracted driving, you have the right to ask for compensatory damages, and a Philadelphia car accident attorney can help you protect those rights. Below are some things to think about when you've been involved in an accident.

  • Medical treatment: If you need medical treatment, seek that treatment right away. Make sure the physician who treats you documents your injuries fully.
  • Police report: Obtain a copy of the police report that was made at the scene. It will contain the name of any witnesses to the accident. Without the corroboration of these witnesses, you may have a difficult time proving your contention that distracted driving was a factor in the accident.
  • Eyewitnesses: Contact any witnesses to the incident as soon as you can, and if possible, obtain written statements from them.
  • Attorney: Consult with a Philadelphia accident lawyer. He or she may be able to obtain certificates of disposition related to the accident as well as negotiate with the various insurance companies involved in ways that work to your advantage.

The legal staff at Metzger & Kleiner has more than 40 years of combined experience helping Pennsylvania residents who have been injured by the careless actions of others. Call our office in Philadelphia today at (215) 567-6616 to set up an initial no-cost consultation.

Speak Your Mind

*

© 2018 Metzger& Kleiner All Rights Reserved. Site Map | Disclaimer | Allentown Car Accidents | Allentown Truck Accidents