A car accident can change your life in the blink of an eye. If you’re lucky, you walk away with just some minor scrapes and bruises. But what if your Charleston collision is more serious? What if you end up with a concussion or even worse? And what if someone else’s negligence caused the accident?
If that happens, then West Virginia law may allow you to file a car accident claim and get compensated for your injuries by the other motorist’s insurance company. Your claim’s success may depend on whether the other driver was distracted when your Charleston crash occurred. So what exactly constitutes distracted driving, and how can it impact your car accident claim in our state? Read on to find out.
What Is a Distracted Driver?
A distracted driver is any driver who is not paying 100% attention to the task of driving. Distracted driving can take many forms, but the three most common types of distractions are manual, visual, and cognitive. Here’s how each of these is defined:
- Manual distractions: Occur when a driver takes their hands off the wheel. This could be due to them fiddling with the radio, eating, or smoking.
- Visual distractions: Occur when a driver takes their eyes off the road. This often happens because a motorist is looking at their phone, and more specifically, text messages, or something outside the car.
- Cognitive distractions: Occur when a driver takes their mind off of driving. This could be due to daydreaming, being distracted by a conversation, or even being impaired by drugs or alcohol.
Distracted driving can lead to accidents, injuries, and even fatalities in all of the scenarios above. As such, it is essential for all drivers to be aware of the dangers associated with distractions and to take steps to avoid them.
West Virginia motorists should always pull over to a safe location if they must do something that will take their attention away from driving. Additionally, drivers should take a break until they can focus on the task at hand if they find themselves distracted behind the wheel of their car in Charleston.
West Virginia and Distracted Driving Laws
Texting while driving remains dangerous on roads here in West Virginia and across the country. Distracted driving is close to being on par with drunk driving as far as increasing the risk of causing an accident is concerned.
Like most every other state, West Virginia has a texting while driving law in place. If you are involved in an accident caused by a distracted driver, our personal injury attorneys at DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC want you to know a few things, including:
- First, if the police investigate the accident and determine that the other driver was distracted, they may issue a citation. This citation can be used as evidence when you file an insurance claim or lawsuit in Charleston, WV.
- Second, even if the police do not issue a citation, you can still use other evidence to prove that the other driver was distracted. We’ll discuss ways to prove this later in the article.
- Finally, it is important to remember that even if you can prove that the other driver was distracted at the time of the accident, this does not guarantee that you will win your case.
The distracted driver’s insurance company may still try to deny or lowball your claim. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced car accident lawyer on your side representing you.
How Can You Prevent Distracted Driving?
As we become increasingly reliant on technology, it’s no surprise that distracted driving is on the rise. Unfortunately, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, this dangerous behavior claims 3,142 lives annually. To put things into perspective, that’s about eight lives lost daily to distracted driving.
Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to reduce your risk of being involved in an accident with a distracted driver here in Charleston or elsewhere in West Virginia, such as:
- First, avoid distracted driving yourself. This means no texting, emailing, or social media while behind the wheel.
- Second, speak up if you’re a passenger riding in a car with a distracted driver. Let them know what they’re doing is dangerous and offer to help them with whatever task distracts them.
- And finally, if you see a distracted driver on the road, stay as far away from them as possible. If you can, try to get their license plate number and report them to the police.
These little steps may end up saving your or your passenger’s life.
How Can Someone Prove Distracted Driving?
There are a few different things that you can do to help prove distracted driving. If the police investigate the accident, they may issue a citation to the distracted driver. As previously mentioned, this citation can be used as evidence in an insurance claim or lawsuit.
One way an individual could prove that another driver was distracted and caused an accident is by using dash cam footage. Dash cams are installed in many cars throughout West Virginia these days as a way to record accidents and can help prove that the other driver was at fault. If an accident occurs and the other driver denies being distracted, having dash cam footage can help prove otherwise.
Another way to prove that another driver was distracted is by eyewitness testimony. Suppose some witnesses saw the other driver looking down at their phone or not paying attention before the accident. In that case, their testimony could help prove negligence.
Finally, suppose there is any evidence of the other driver’s phone being used at the time of the accident (such as text messages or social media posts). In that case, this could also be used as evidence to show that the driver was distracted.
What Should You Do if You’ve Been in an Accident With a Distracted Driver?
If you’ve been in an accident with a distracted driver here in Charleston, WV, you should seek medical attention if you or anyone else involved in the accident has been injured. Once everyone has received the necessary medical care, you can focus on dealing with the legal aftermath of the accident.
The first step is to contact your insurance company and file a claim. If the other driver was at fault, their insurance company would likely be responsible for any damages. Make sure to preserve all documentation related to the accident, including any police reports, medical records, and repair bills. These will be important when filing your insurance claim.
You may also want to consider taking legal action against the distracted driver. This is usually only necessary if the accident resulted in significant property damage, injuries, or a person’s wrongful death. An experienced car accident lawyer like one of ours here at DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC can help you navigate the West Virginia legal process and fight for the compensation you deserve following your Charleston car accident after a distracted driver struck you.