The range of vehicle accidents directly linked with distracted driving is increasing. According to a few recently released research and statistics by the National Safety Council, these types of accidents have increased gradually in the last few years.
Although there are a few other reasons why drivers can be distracted, the major one is using cell phone use while driving.
Your Brain on Cell Phones
The majority of drivers know that are sending and reading text messages while driving is a is a bad idea, but many continue to do it anyways. Texting while at a stop sign or light, or while going a slow speed might seem like a safe enough thing to do (after all, many people can almost text with their eyes shut), but the brain actually functions differently when texting and driving simultaneously.
The National Safety Council has recently compiled some studies related to changes in the brain while attempting to multitask. As it turns out, it’s impossible to multitask and pay equal attention to both tasks at the same time. In fact, many drivers completely miss things like red lights while talking on the phone or texting, but it’s not so much the devices that are the problem – it’s more than humans are not hard-wired to multitask.
Some Multitasking Statistics
Cognitive Distracted Driving Disorder is not a commonly known or heard of the problem. It’s not as widespread as something like depression or anxiety, for example. Yet, this disorder is real – and it’s backed by compelling evidence. The disorder is linked to something researchers have named “Inattention Blindness.” When not devoting one-hundred percent of attention to one task, drivers cannot (no matter how hard they try) see and note everything in front of them.
It is estimated that “… drivers using cell phones look but fail to see up to 50% of the information in their driving environment” a recent study by the National Safety Council notes. Further, attempting to make a call (even with a hands-free device) or text while driving is akin to having vision comparable to tunnel vision. This is the reason why it is prohibited to use a cell phone while driving in the state of Florida – but Florida law is complicated when it comes to accidents that happen as a result of distracted driving.
Wading Through Distracted Driving Laws
Even though it is legal to make cell phone calls while driving in the State of Florida, it is illegal to text and drive. Drivers may text at stoplights; however, many crashes happen every day as a direct result of cell phone use and texting. So, in every automobile accident case, Attorneys must investigate the possibility that cell phone use or texting played in the cause of the accident.
What can you do if you have been in an accident (either as a driver or pedestrian) that has occurred as a result of distracted driving? In order to make sure that you exercise every right possible, the best course of action is to speak with a qualified personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
Through a qualified injury attorney, you can gain the compensation that you may be entitled to during a free, no obligation case evaluation.
Pursuing Civil Action After a Distracted Driving Accident in Florida
Though distracted driving has been around since before technology such as cell phones, there has been a notable increase in accidents since these new technologies became available. Answering phone calls, texting, and even checking navigation directions on the phone can easily result in an accident. In Florida, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, this reckless behavior resulted in 7 tragic fatalities and 1,474 injuries in 2010.
Distracted driving puts even the most responsible drivers in danger as collateral damage. Even the most responsible, defensive driver can be caught off-guard by a reckless, distracted driver. In cases like this, an accident may be unavoidable. If you are involved in an accident in Florida with a distracted driver, it is important to follow these critical steps:
- Check if there injuries and contact an ambulance if necessary
- Call and comply with the responding police officer, ensuring that a report is thoroughly filed
- Seek immediate emergency medical attention and document all injuries
- Exchange only the basic, required information with the other driver
- Take down a personal account of the accident, especially all the details you remember about the other driver’s distractions, as soon as possible after the accident occurs
- Take photographs of the accident scene and injuries if possible
- Take down contact information for eyewitnesses
- Do not give statements about the accident or your injuries to the other driver, or their insurance company
- Call your attorney before moving forward with any claims – this is especially important if you plan to seek civil action against the distracted driver
After you have recovered sufficiently from your distracted driving accident, consider pursuing civil action against the distracted driver – especially if property damage or injury was involved. You have lost valuable time and resources due to the other person’s negligent behavior, which you can recover compensation for in court or through a settlement. Pursuing civil action against the distracted driver can help ensure all of your current and future expenses from the accident are covered.
When a plaintiff brings a civil action for negligence against a distracted driver in Florida, his or her attorney must prove four elements in order to succeed. These elements are:
- Duty – the injured party or plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed him or her reasonable care while operating the vehicle. This is a standard duty shouldered by every driver on the road;
- Breach – the plaintiff must prove that the defendant breached this duty through distracted driving;
- Causation – the plaintiff must prove that the distracted driving of the defendant was the actual and proximate cause of his or her injuries; and
- Damages – the plaintiff must show that a form of injury occurred to him or her following the distracted driving accident
Generally, for a distracted driving accident in Florida, you can pursue damages like pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of wages, disfigurement, property damage, and payment for any costs incurred on the plaintiff as a result of the accident, such as treatment cost. If you plan to bring a civil action in your Florida distracted driving accident, it is important to do so as soon as possible. According to Florida Statute § 95.11, the statute of limitations on any negligence case – including distracted driving – is four years.
Florida PIP (Personal Injury Protection) Laws were revised by Governor Rick Scott in 2012 and may impact the amount of compensation you can gain, and the process by which you can pursue it.
Auto accident victims are now required to report injuries and seek medical attention within 14 days of an accident. This can be problematic for injuries that are often overlooked initially, such as neck and back trauma, so it is highly advised that you seek medical attention immediately with a qualified medical provider. It’s in your best interests to consider all of your options as soon after the accident as possible, even if you ultimately do not pursue additional legal action.