Statistics have shown that many auto accidents are the result of distracted driving by one or more parties involved in an accident. The numbers have increased dramatically over the past two decades with the popularity of the hand-held cell phone. Even “hands-free” on-board communications capability in newer vehicles has also been evidenced in many collisions, as distractions do not always require a driver to remove their hands from the steering wheel. Even loud noise in a vehicle can create a distraction. However, it is incumbent on the claimant in a car accident to prove that a driver was indeed distracted by something other than navigating the highway when a collision occurs, and this often requires car accident attorneys to request records from phone companies regarding defendants using their phone at the time of the accident. These can be complicated and strongly defended legal matters when cases go to trial.
Drivers Can Matter
Not all states have standard distracted driving statutes. States like North Carolina have divided the law among adults and drivers under the age of 18 regarding cell phone use behind the wheel. Adults are still allowed to use a cell phone for talking and texting while behind the wheel, but minor drivers are restricted. There are some drivers as young as age 15 who have learner’s permits, but these drivers typically must have a licensed driver in the vehicle with them when operating a vehicle. Additionally, not all accidents are caused by cell phone use or other technology, and even evidence of eating while driving can be proof of negligence.
Timestamped Proof of Cell Phone Use
The most important information in proving distracted driving by a negligent defendant is actual timestamped records of their cell phone use while behind the wheel. Those with on-board communications can still be found to be using a hand-held device when the numbers are connected to the particular phone. Car accident attorneys must contact cell phone service providers and tower managers to access records that prove the defendant was indeed using their phone at the time of the mishap.
All drivers are held responsible for activity inside of the vehicle they are operating. However, passengers do not always respect this responsibility and will attempt to carry on a conversation with not only the driver but others in the vehicle as well. This activity can create confusion and distract a driver from being able to hear what is happening on the road from behind or beside them. Certain evidence such as witness testimony and even the type of injuries suffered by passengers can be proof of distractions in the vehicle. Additionally, vehicles with significant passenger capacity can encourage drivers to haul many passengers at once, also adding to potential passenger distraction issues.
Eating and Drinking While Driving
Probably the oldest and most common form of traditional distracted driving is eating and drinking anything while behind the wheel. Evidence of food consumption while in transit can be effective evidence when gathered from a crash scene. This can also include photographs of food bags and remaining consumption items after the fact. It is always important for someone on the scene to take pictures of the inside of as many vehicles as possible when they are not immobilized after a collision. Even those drivers suffering minor to moderate injury will often have significant physical property damage to a vehicle that may be central to an accident insurance claim.
Another major distraction inside a vehicle can be loud music. Most modern vehicles are equipped with high-powered electronic equipment capable of playing music extremely loud. It is common to pull up to an intersection and hear music blaring from a vehicle in proximity. Even volume from external vehicles can have an impact when drivers cannot hear other motorists, especially when motorcycles are near and not noticed by the loud exhaust. Many older modified vehicles also have extensive audio equipment installed by owners, which can be even more problematic than vehicles with equipment installed by manufacturers.
The Burden of Proof in Auto Accidents
The common accident victim does not understand that a different standard of proof is used when car accidents are adjudicated. Everyone is familiar with the reasonable doubt standard applied in criminal cases, but civil tort cases such as injury claims are determined by a preponderance of the evidence within a totality of circumstances. Included in that totality could well be evidence of distracted driving that the typical injured claimant does not realize will help support their cause in the matter. This type of evidence can also be used against a driver who has filed a claim when the insurance company is trying to prove even the slightest defense of contributory negligence by the claimant driver. This can be crucial to the final outcome of an accident case.
Contact Our Law Firm
The car accident attorneys with our firm understand that proving distracted driving can be challenging, and it can be the difference for many injured claimants in being properly compensated or not being compensated at all for their injuries. Fault is central to accident adjudication, and evidence of distracted driving can prove that fault. Call our offices today and let our car accident attorneys conduct a comprehensive evaluation of your claim when distracted driving is part of the potential material case evidence.