Unfortunately, distracted driving is a common occurrence across all age groups and areas of the country. Too many drivers assume they can pay attention to their surroundings while texting and driving. Even a few seconds of looking down at a phone can change a life in Escondido forever in a distracted driving accident.
If you or someone you know is dealing with the aftermath of a texting and driving accident, you need a local lawyer to help you sort out the next steps. Contact an Escondido car accident lawyer at Sargent Law Firm Injury Lawyers to learn more about a victim’s right to recover compensation in court following a distracted driving accident.
Distracted Driving Laws in California
Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of vehicle accidents in California and around the country. Looking away for even a few seconds puts the driver of the vehicle and anyone sharing the roadways with them at risk for serious injuries. Although there are laws about distracted driving in California, many drivers still engage in this behavior.
Any driver should be familiar with California’s distracted driving laws. California’s Assembly Bill 47 raised the fine for first-time distracted driving offenses above $20 in 2019. This law went into effect in July 2021 with minimum fees for a first offense sitting at $162.
Distracted driving citations can also lead to a point on the driver’s record that remains on there for up to 36 months. California’s distracted driving law prohibits the use of handheld devices while operating a vehicle unless the motorist uses their device in hands-free voice-operated mode.
Texting violations that happen within 36 months of a prior infraction will lead to one point on the driver’s record.
Additionally, there are special distracted driving laws in place for drivers under 18 years old. Underage motorists are forbidden from using wireless devices while driving, even in hands-free mode.
There are a few exceptions to California’s texting and driving law. The law does not apply to drivers who are using manufacturer-installed systems or drivers using their hands to turn off a mounted GPS with one swipe or tap.
The only exception to this California texting and driving law is for calls made for emergency purposes.
Types of Distractions Behind the Wheel
Any kind of activity other than driving is considered a distraction. Driving requires complete focus on the road ahead of you and your surroundings. Failing to pay attention puts you and others at risk of critical injuries.
There are three different ways a driver can be distracted from keeping their focus on the road. These are visual, cognitive, and manual distractions.
- Visual distraction refers to the driver removing their eyes from the road around them.
- Manual distraction refers to the driver taking their hands off the wheel.
- Cognitive distraction refers to mental distractions that pull the driver’s focus away from operating safely.
One of the biggest dangers of texting and driving is that it combines cognitive, manual, and visual distractions. This kind of behavior can be deadly behind the wheel.
How Is Distracted Driving Proven?
Proving distracted driving can be difficult. This is why many victims in suspected distracted driving accidents retain the services of knowledgeable personal injury lawyers.
Possible evidence of distracted driving may emerge at the scene through eyewitness testimony, social media activity, cell phone records, traffic camera footage, or police reports.
The moments after an accident are extremely important. It may be challenging to investigate the scene if your injuries are severe. If possible, taking pictures or videos or asking someone else to help you with this is essential.
Furthermore, if you saw the other driver on their phone prior to the accident, you need to inform police about this. Other people may have witnessed the driver’s distracted driving, such as people in other vehicles or pedestrians. Official statements can be provided by these people to your personal injury lawyer at a later date.
Social media activity and cell phone records can illustrate what the driver was doing immediately prior to the wreck. Sometimes law enforcement officials will inspect the driver’s phone at the scene of the crash or keep it as evidence if the accident may have been caused by distracted driving.
Valuable information can be gathered by the police at the scene of the accident, such as whether the other driver braked, the speed they were operating the car at the time of the crash, eyewitness observations, any driver’s admission of being distracted, and what was found on the driver’s cell phone.
Finally, traffic cameras may be analyzed to determine whether someone was engaged in distracted driving behavior. It often falls to the experience and resources of a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in Escondido to assist with the collection and analysis of this evidence.
Damages Available in Distracted Driving Accidents
Many factors will influence the damages available to you in a distracted driving accident in Escondido. Insurance policy limits, injury severity, and the accident details are some of the most important factors that influence your damages.
You can sit down with a lawyer in Escondido to determine how much you can expect to recover for the damages you suffered.
Some common examples of damages include:
- Loss of quality of life
- Property damage
- Current and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost future earnings if you’re unable to return to work
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Replacement services such as maintenance or childcare
Find a Distracted Driving Lawyer Immediately
If you believe someone else violated California distracted driving laws and got into an accident with you, you may be entitled to compensation through a lawsuit. The right lawyer can make a big difference in the outcome of your case.