What Causes the Most Car Accidents?

Every day, car accidents occur throughout the United States for many reasons. Every driver needs to understand the risks they face when behind the wheel and what they can do to limit their risk of causing an accident. Unfortunately, not all drivers take their obligations seriously, and some cause devastating accidents resulting in tremendous damage to others. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and other federal and state agencies collect and report accident data each year. The findings from these reports highlight distracted driving as the leading cause of all car accidents in the US.

Whenever a driver does not have their full attention on the road ahead, they put themselves and others at grave risk. Unfortunately, even a momentary distraction can be enough to cause an accident, and injured drivers may wonder whether they have any legal recourse against a distracted driver responsible for their recent accident. Perry Personal Injury Lawyers has successfully handled many car accident claims for clients throughout Southern California, including those resulting from distracted driving. However, every driver who experiences such an accident should keep a few critical pieces of information in mind as they weigh their legal options following these incidents.

Defining Distracted Driving

Distracted driving occurs whenever a driver is not paying full attention to driving. Three main types of distractions can potentially cause accidents:

  1. Manual distractions, which are anything that requires the use of the driver’s hands when they should be maintaining control over the steering wheel and other vehicle controls.
  2. Visual distractions, which divert the driver’s vision away from the road ahead. Roadside events, cell phones, and other visual distractions can cause a driver to miss changes in traffic conditions too late to avoid a collision.
  3. Cognitive distractions are anything that takes the driver’s mind off the task at hand. For example, a driver mulling over a stressful day at work or anticipating important personal events while driving may be too distracted by their thoughts to operate their vehicle safely.

These distractions can cause accidents, but cell phone use behind the wheel is the most commonly cited form of distracted driving. In many cases, using a cell phone combines all three of these forms of distraction: The driver must use a hand to operate the phone, look at the screen instead of the road, and pay attention to their phone instead of the road. Many states, California included, have enacted strict laws banning the use of cell phones while driving without the use of a completely hands-free attachment like a Bluetooth headset. Unfortunately, drivers still use cell phones behind the wheel, sometimes with disastrous results including pedestrian accidents.

Can I File a Lawsuit Against a Distracted Driver?

If another driver recently caused an accident with your vehicle and injured you, you have the right to seek compensation from the at-fault driver. Typically, the first step in recovering from a car accident is to file an auto insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy. California uses a fault system to resolve car accidents, so all drivers must carry liability insurance that takes effect when they cause accidents.

California’s car insurance policies must meet the state’s minimum coverage requirements, providing at least $15,000 in bodily injury liability coverage, at least $30,000 in total accident liability coverage, and at least $5,000 in property damage liability coverage. Therefore, if the total damages resulting from your accident fall within the at-fault driver’s coverage limits, you may only need to file an insurance claim to recover your losses. However, if your losses exceed their available coverage, you must file a personal injury claim against them to recover the rest.

Your attorney can assist you in gathering the evidence you need to prove a distracted driver caused your accident. This can be accomplished with various forms of evidence, such as the at-fault driver’s cell phone records, traffic camera recordings, and statements from eyewitnesses who saw the accident occur. Once you establish that the at-fault driver was distracted behind the wheel, you can hold them accountable for any losses that their insurance won’t cover.

Potential Damages in Your Distracted Driving Injury Claim

If the driver who caused your injury is found to have been distracted behind the wheel, you can hold them accountable for all damages resulting from their actions. California’s personal injury laws allow a plaintiff to seek full compensation for any economic damages sustained by another party’s actions. The economic damages you can include in your civil action include:

  • Property damage. The at-fault driver’s auto insurance may cover some of your vehicle repair costs, but you will need to file a civil claim to recover property losses that insurance cannot cover.
  • Medical expenses. If you were injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, the at-fault driver is responsible for any medical treatment you require. This includes immediate medical costs like emergency room bills and ongoing treatment costs for severe injuries that demand ongoing care.
  • Lost income. If your accident left you unable to work, you have the right to hold the defendant accountable for wages lost during your recovery. You also have the right to seek compensation for lost future earning potential if you develop a permanent disability from your accident that prevents you from returning to work.

In addition to these economic damages, you also have the right to seek compensation for your pain and suffering. The amount you can claim hinges on the severity of your injury and the long-term effects the injury is likely to have. Many plaintiffs find that pain and suffering comprise the most significant portions of their total recoveries.

A distracted driver not only faces liability for damages they cause to others when they violate their duty of care to drive responsibly but also has a high chance of causing severe injuries to themselves. Additionally, some distracted drivers could face criminal penalties for the accidents they cause if they violate California law by driving while distracted. Therefore, if you have been hurt in a car accident that you believe occurred because of a distracted driver, it’s imperative to consult an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. Contact Perry Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a consultation with an experienced Southern California car accident lawyer.