Distractions Kill People

Driving distractions can be talking to a passenger, or texting or speaking on a cell phone. Even adjusting the radio or temperature controls of the vehicle count as distractions.

Distracted driving has plagued U.S. roadways for many years and appears to be growing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data shows, “In the U.S. in 2018, over 2,800 people were killed and an estimated 400,000 were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver.” (1)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says 3,142 people lost their lives in distracted driving accidents in 2019. (2)

This means roughly 350 more people died in distracted driving crashes in 2019 than in 2018. The trend in distracted driving deaths is rising.

Everyone Is At Risk

Even more shocking, it is not just drivers and passengers who are at risk. The CDC adds, “About 1 in 5 of the people who died in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2018 were not in vehicles―they were walking, riding their bikes, or otherwise outside a vehicle.” (3)

Clearly, just being near a distracted driver can put you at risk for serious injury or death. And the statistics for New York are no less grim.

New York Statistics

The Institute for Traffic Safety Management Research (ITSMR), tracks crash data for New York. According to this nonprofit traffic research organization, New York data indicates: (4)

  • 2020 preliminary results show 327,355 crashes statewide: 90,308 resulted in personal injury and 945 involved fatalities.
  • 2021 preliminary results show 219,345 crashes statewide: 62,384 resulted in personal injury and 578 involved fatalities.

While not all of these crashes can be attributed to distracted driving, New York State Fact Sheets on Cell Phone Use underscore the danger of distracted driving.

According to police reports, cell phone use was a contributing factor, increasing 17.8% over 2014-18 (5) and 18.8% over 2015-19 (6), in fatal and personal injury crashes.

The hazards of inattentive driving are evident. The causes of distracted driving are also readily identifiable.

If you’ve been seriously injured by a distracted driver, contact us for a free consultation.

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Common Causes of Distracted Driving

Three types of distractions can cause accidents: (7)

  • Visual: taking eyes off the road. Drivers who are looking at their cell phone or at a passenger, rather than the road, are distracted. Adjusting controls for the radio, navigation system, or cabin temperature count as distractions when the driver’s eyes are not focused on the roadway.
  • Manual: hands off the wheel. When drivers are eating while driving, they are distracted because their hands may not be on the steering wheel. If drivers are putting on makeup or combing their hair while driving, they are distracted. Anytime drivers’ hands leave the steering wheel, they have been distracted from the task of safe driving.
  • Cognitive: mind off driving. When drivers are daydreaming or fall asleep while behind the wheel, they are distracted. Drivers can be distracted if they pay more attention to a conversation among passengers than to the roadway. Whenever drivers engage in any actions causing their mind to shift focus away from driving, they are distracted.

No matter the cause, distracted driver crash victims suffer a number of serious injuries.

Victim Injuries

“Arguably one of the most dangerous types of car accidents, distracted driving is a growing epidemic on American roads,” says the nonprofit DriveSafe Online. (8)

Serious injuries sustained in crashes include:

  • Death — “Every day about 8 people in the United States are killed in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver,” according to the CDC. (9)
  • Traumatic brain injury — Car crashes are among the most common ways people suffer traumatic brain injuries. (10)
  • Spinal cord injury — One recent study concluded, “Car rollover was the most common mechanism of spinal fractures.” The study goes on to list, “problems in quality of driving” among the reasons. (11)
  • Amputation — A “traumatic amputation” is the loss of a body part due to an accident of some kind, such as a car accident. According to one study, trauma amputations “account for an estimated 45% of the prevalent cases of limb loss.” (12)
  • Broken bones, fractures — These are common car accident injuries and can be very serious. One study found, “Sternal fractures occur most often in old cars to seat-belted drivers often without any airbag. Severe multiple rib fractures and lung contusion are concomitant injuries in more than 10% each, indicating the severity of the crash.” (13)
  • Lacerations — With this type of wound, the edges are jagged. Lacerations can also be classified as shear, tension, compression, or combination. Shear lacerations are caused by sharp objects. Tension lacerations are when the skin rips. In compression lacerations, skin is caught between the bone and an external object. Finally, “a combination of different types of lacerations” can happen. (14)

The complexities of suing due to injuries from a distracted driving accident can be addressed with the help of an experienced attorney.

Legal Options

Each state has their own laws prohibiting distracted driving. State laws often specify distractions such as reading, texting, or holding a cell phone while driving.

For example, New York state law prohibits use of “a hand-held mobile telephone or portable electronic device while you drive. Illegal activity includes holding a portable electronic device and

  • talking on a handheld mobile telephone
  • composing, sending, reading, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving, or retrieving electronic data such as e-mail, text messages, or webpages
  • viewing, taking, or transmitting images
  • playing games” (15)

Distracted Driving Is Negligence

If you have suffered serious injuries in a distracted driving accident, your case may fall under negligence.

Negligence is a legal concept where a defendant (the party you are suing) is guilty if they did not show the same level of caution another person would have, under similar circumstances. (16)

For your lawsuit to be successful, you must show the court the drivers caused the accident through their own negligent behavior. And the behavior led to your injury.

Example of Negligence

For example, a teenager is driving and fails to stop at a stop sign. He drives into a group of children standing at a bus stop. Your child suffers serious injuries from this accident.

An investigation reveals the driver failed to stop because he was texting on his cell phone at the time of the incident.

Under New York law, the driver was distracted. Your attorney needs to show the court his distracted behavior led directly to the accident and your child suffered serious injuries.

An experienced attorney knows how to gather the necessary evidence. This evidence is critical. It demonstrates to a court the connections between the distracted behavior of a driver, the accident occurring, and the injuries to you resulting from the accident.

Additionally, your attorney can help you deal with the insurance companies, navigate the legal process, and negotiate a settlement or take the case to trial.

Were you injured by a distracted driver? Call us today for a free consultation.

(833) 977-3437

How W&L Can Help

Weitz & Luxenberg attorneys have years of experience in negligence and personal injury cases. We have successfully represented clients in a variety of lawsuits, such as:

  • Verdict: W&L won $20.5 million for our client paralyzed for life. He was riding in a car when it was struck by a stolen car. The driver of the stolen car fled the scene. W&L attorneys argued son of the car owner was driving the vehicle when it struck the car our client was in.
  • Settlement: W&L secured a $1.4 million settlement for a woman run over by an ambulance while walking in a crosswalk on the streets of Manhattan. The elderly woman suffered a fractured pelvis, requiring surgery, and has lasting health issues from the accident.
  • Verdict: W&L obtained a $2.96 million verdict for a laborer from Ecuador who lost his leg. The negligent driving of a co-worker caused the amputation of part of his leg. The company did not have adequate barriers in the area where the men were working.