Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer in Winter Haven, FL
Today’s drivers have no shortage of distractions behind the wheel. From cell phones and GPS devices to children in the back seat and flashy billboards, a driver’s attention can easily be diverted from the road — and only a few seconds of inattention can cause a disastrous distracted driving accident.
In Florida, the number of fatal distracted driving crashes has increased steadily every year since 2015, according to the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The most current statistics show that there were nearly 56,000 distracted driving crashes in the state in a recent year, resulting in more than 270 deaths and nearly 3,000 serious injuries.
Have you or someone you love been seriously injured in a distracted driving accident? Florida law allows victims to seek compensation through their no-fault insurance. But there are certain cases where seriously injured victims also have grounds to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver. An experienced Winter Haven distracted driving accident attorney at Brooks Law Group can review your case and explain all of your legal options.
Securing compensation can relieve your financial burdens and stress during this difficult time. Call or contact us today for a free consultation.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is any activity that takes a driver’s eyes off the road, mind off of driving, or hands off the steering wheel. About 8 people in the United States are killed in distracted driving accidents every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That includes drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
There are three types of distraction:
- Visual: Anything that causes drivers to look away from the road
- Manual: Actions that require drivers to take their hands off the wheel
- Cognitive: Activities that require thinking about anything other than driving
Texting while driving is considered the most dangerous of all behaviors because it combines all three elements of distracted driving at once. Drivers use their eyes to read and send messages, hands to type them, and brains to think about what they want to write.
Common Types of Distracted Driving
There are many activities that can lead to a distracted driving accident. Examples include:
- Talking on a cell phone
- Adjusting the car’s entertainment controls
- GPS and other navigation devices
- Eating and drinking
- Personal grooming, such as applying makeup
- Talking to passengers
- Assisting children in the back seat
- “Rubbernecking” at crash scenes
- Retrieving fallen objects
Even using high-tech tools meant to keep motorists safe can serve as a distraction. Enabling voice-activated features in a car or talking on a hands-free device can still take drivers’ minds off their most important task — driving carefully.
Distracted Driving Accident Statistics
Researchers have conducted numerous studies on distracted driving in the United States.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that:
- Distracted driving killed 2,841 people in a recent year. Of that number, 1,730 of those fatalities were drivers, 605 were passengers, 400 were pedestrians, and 77 were bicyclists.
- An estimated 400,000 people were injured in distracted driving crashes.
- Distracted driving made up 8 percent of all fatal police-reported accidents and 13 percent of all injury crashes.
- Cell phone use was a contributing factor in 13 percent of fatal distracted driving collisions, an increase from the prior year.
Additional distracted driving accident statistics found that:
- Texting takes a driver’s attention from the road for 5 seconds. At 55 miles per hour, that’s enough time to cross the entire length of a football field with your eyes closed.
- Taking your eyes off the road for more than 2 seconds doubles your chance of a crash.
- In one study, 83 percent of drivers and 58 percent of motorists called texting and cell phone use a serious threat while driving, yet many admitted performing those activities within the last month.
Closer to Winter Haven, data shows that:
- There were 1,300 distracted driving crashes in Polk County.
- Florida ranks as the second-worst state for distracted driving, falling only behind Louisiana.
It’s not always easy to determine whether distracted driving caused a crash because the at-fault driver is no longer doing it by the time police reach the accident scene. A distracted driving accident lawyer can help by performing a thorough investigation to figure out the true cause of the wreck and hold the responsible driver accountable for his or her actions.
Florida Distracted Driving Laws
Compared to other states, Florida has been relatively slow to enact laws limiting distracted driving. However, some statutes have recently been enacted in the Sunshine State.
- Texting while driving is banned. Texting has also been upgraded from a secondary to a primary offense, which gives police the authority to pull someone over solely for texting. Before, a driver had to be engaging in some other primary offense before he or she could be stopped and cited for texting.
- Using a handheld device in a school or work zone is against the law. These areas are likely to have a high concentration of pedestrians, including children and workers who are more vulnerable to serious and deadly injuries if struck by an oncoming car.
There are certain exceptions to the texting law in Florida. For example, drivers are not prohibited from texting while stopped, reporting emergency or criminal behavior to law enforcement, using navigation tools, and more. Check the law here to learn all of the exceptions.
How to Prove a Driver Was Texting
Florida is a no-fault state for auto insurance, which means that policyholders first seek compensation for their injuries from their own insurance company. They can receive coverage for their medical expenses and a portion of their lost wages through their Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits up to their policy limits.
With no-fault benefits, there’s no need to prove that someone was driving and texting in order to receive compensation. However, the situation changes if you are seriously injured. In that situation, you could be able to file a negligence lawsuit against the negligent driver. The success of your case will depend on gathering solid evidence to prove the driver was texting and driving.
There are several ways that a distracted driving accident lawyer can help prove that a driver was texting at the time of the wreck. These include:
- Witness statements
- Police reports
- The driver’s own admission of guilt
- Cell phone records
- Video surveillance from the area
- Accident reconstruction findings
Obtaining certain evidence, particularly cell phone records, can be difficult for a private individual to access. You shouldn’t have to worry about that if you’re recovering from your injuries. A Winter Haven distracted driving accident attorney can help collect the evidence you need to build a strong and compelling claim for compensation.
How Can Brooks Law Group Help Me?
The dangers of distracted driving are well known, but that doesn’t stop thousands of motorists from engaging in risky behavior every day. If you’ve been hurt in a crash, you need a tough lawyer by your side to give you the best possible chance of recovering maximum compensation.
The distracted driving accident lawyers at Brooks Law Group can do all of the legal legwork to get your claim underway, including:
- Filing the necessary paperwork accurately and on time
- Managing all negotiations with the insurance company
- Identifying all the liable parties in your case
- Collecting the evidence needed to support your claim for maximum compensation
- Determining an appropriate case value based on the severity of your injuries and their impact on your quality of life
- Responding to any disputes from the insurance company about whether your claim is valid
- Negotiating vigorously for maximum compensation for you
- Communicating with you consistently so that you always know the status of your claim
- Taking your case to trial, if that gives you a better chance of getting the compensation you deserve
Call or contact us today to get started.