A moment of distraction behind the wheel can have devastating consequences. Glancing at a text, eating a sandwich, or fumbling around to locate an item can take a driver’s attention away from the road just long enough to cause a serious distracted driving accident.
If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a Virginia distracted driving accident someone else caused, you need an experienced personal injury attorney to review your claim for free and advise you of your options for seeking compensation from those responsible.
Read on to learn more about the dangers of distracted driving and suggestions for how you can protect your rights and interests and get the full and fair compensation you deserve. Consult a proficient Fairfax car accident Lawyer promptly to understand your rights and choices for pursuing compensation after a distracted driving incident.
The Dangers of Distracted Driving in Virginia
Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents in Virginia. According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (VDOT), distracted driving was a factor in over 15,000 car accidents in Virginia in one recent year. These accidents resulted in over 300 fatalities and over 10,000 injuries.
What Are the Main Causes of Driver Distraction?
Driver distraction is a significant contributing factor to road accidents and can result in serious injuries and fatalities. The main causes of driver distraction can be broadly categorized into three primary types:
- Cell Phones: The use of mobile phones for texting, calling, or browsing while driving is a major visual distraction. Looking at a screen takes a driver’s eyes off the road.
- In-Car Entertainment Systems: Adjusting the radio, GPS navigation, or infotainment systems can divert a driver’s attention from the road.
- External Distractions: Scenic views, billboards, or accidents on the roadside can capture a driver’s visual attention away from driving.
- Texting: Typing or reading text messages on a mobile device requires the use of both hands, taking them off the steering wheel.
- Eating and Drinking: Handling food, drinks, or utensils while driving necessitates taking one or both hands off the wheel.
- Grooming: Applying makeup, shaving, or adjusting clothing diverts a driver’s hands from driving tasks.
- Daydreaming: A driver’s mind wandering from the task of driving can lead to cognitive distraction. Deep thought or preoccupation with personal matters can reduce reaction times.
- Conversations: Engaging in phone calls or heated discussions with passengers can divert a driver’s cognitive focus away from the road.
- Fatigue: Drowsy driving can impair a driver’s cognitive abilities, making it harder to concentrate on driving.
In addition to these primary causes, some other factors that contribute to driver distraction include:
- Children: Children can pose distractions to drivers, especially if you have to reach in the backseat to retrieve something for them or turn your head to address them.
- Smoking: Lighting a cigarette, holding it, and ashing it can be distracting.
- Pets: Unrestrained pets moving around inside the vehicle can distract a driver.
To reduce driver distraction and enhance road safety, it’s essential for drivers to prioritize their attention on the task of driving and minimize activities that divert their focus.
Laws, public awareness campaigns, and advancements in technology (e.g., hands-free calling and voice-activated controls) also play a role in addressing and mitigating the risks associated with distracted driving.
Despite safety campaigns and laws against distracted driving, accidents still happen all too frequently. You likely have options for pursuing compensation if a distracted driver caused an accident that injured you or a family member, but you need to hire an experienced Virginia personal injury attorney for a review of your case and advice regarding your options.
What Should I Do Following a Distracted Driving Accident in Virginia?
Following a distracted driving accident in Virginia, ensure your safety, protect your legal rights, and seek appropriate compensation for any injuries or damages. Here’s a step-by-step guide on what to do:
- Check for injuries and call 911 immediately to request medical assistance for anyone injured in the accident.
- If it’s safe to do so, move your vehicle to the side of the road to prevent further accidents and hazards.
Notify Law Enforcement
- Contact the local police to report the accident. A police report is an important document for insurance claims and legal proceedings.
- Exchange contact information, driver’s license numbers, and insurance details with all parties involved in the accident.
- Gather contact information from any witnesses to the accident.
Document the Scene and Gather Evidence
- Take photos of the accident scene, including vehicle damage, license plates, and the positions of vehicles. These photos can be valuable evidence later.
- Note road and weather conditions, the time and date of the accident, and any visible signs of distraction (e.g., a mobile phone in the other driver’s hand).
Do Not Admit Fault
- Avoid making statements or admissions of fault to other parties involved in the accident, the police, or insurance adjusters. Stick to providing factual information.
Seek Medical Attention
- Even if you don’t immediately feel injured or believe your injuries are minor, it’s essential to see a healthcare professional for a thorough examination. Some injuries may not manifest symptoms right away and you will need documentation that you suffered an injury and received treatment to pursue compensation through an injury claim.
Report to Your Insurance Company
- Notify your own insurance company about the accident as soon as possible. Provide them with the necessary details but avoid making a recorded statement until you’ve consulted with an attorney.
- Keep all documents related to the accident, including medical records, bills, repair estimates, and correspondence with insurance companies.
- Follow your attorney’s advice on preserving evidence and communicating with the other party’s insurance company.
Consult an Attorney
- Contact a qualified personal injury attorney with experience in handling distracted driving accident cases. They can provide guidance on your legal rights, the potential for a lawsuit, and how to navigate the claims process.
- If you’ve suffered significant injuries or damages and the other party’s insurance doesn’t adequately compensate you, consult with your attorney about the possibility of filing a personal injury lawsuit.
- Keep yourself informed about your rights and the progress of your injury case. Maintain open communication with your attorney and follow their guidance throughout the legal process.
How Do I Prove Liability in a Distracted Driving Accident in Virginia?
To prove liability in a distracted driving accident in Virginia, you must show that the other driver was distracted and that their distraction caused the accident.
You can prove that the other driver was distracted though:
- Eyewitness testimony. If there were any witnesses to the accident, they may be able to testify about whether or not they saw the other driver distracted.
- Cell phone records. If the other driver was texting or talking on the phone at the time of the accident, your attorney can subpoena their cell phone records to prove this.
- GPS records. If the other driver was using a GPS device at the time of the accident, your lawyer can get their GPS records to show whether or not they were distracted.
- Expert testimony. An expert witness, such as a traffic accident reconstructionist, can testify about whether the other driver’s distraction caused the accident.
Once your attorney has the evidence to prove that the other driver was distracted, they must then show that the driver’s distraction caused the accident. This can be difficult to prove, but it is often possible to do so by using circumstantial evidence.
For example, if the other driver was texting at the time of the accident and did not slow down or brake before hitting you, this could prove their distraction caused the accident.
Here are some tips for increasing your chances of proving liability in a distracted driving accident:
- Gather evidence as soon as possible. Waiting too long to collect evidence may harm your case. Evidence can disappear or eyewitnesses may become unavailable or forget what they saw.
- Contact a Virginia distracted driving accident attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you gather evidence, file a claim with the insurance company, and negotiate a settlement on your behalf.
- Be honest and truthful with your attorney. Your attorney needs to know all of the facts of your case in order to provide you with the best possible representation.
If you suffered injuries in a distracted driving accident, contact a Virginia distracted driving accident attorney right away for a free consultation.
What’s the Claims Process for Obtaining Compensation After a Distracted Driving Accident in Virginia?
After receiving treatment for your injuries and reporting the accident to law enforcement, you need to contact a car accident attorney in Virginia to help prepare and submit your claim. Your attorney can help gather the necessary evidence and file your claim with the appropriate insurance companies.
After receiving your claim, the insurance company will then investigate the accident and determine whether or not your claim is covered. If their policy covers your claim, they will offer you a settlement.
Often, the insurer will offer a lowball settlement that does not cover all your injuries and losses. Your attorney can negotiate with the insurance company to get a higher settlement, but if you cannot reach an agreement, you may need to file a lawsuit.
If your attorney files a lawsuit on your behalf, the case will go to trial in civil court. At trial, a judge or jury will decide whether or not the other driver was negligent and, if so, how much compensation you deserve.
If your lawsuit succeeds, the court will order the other driver or their insurance company to pay you damages.
Personal injury lawsuits can take considerable time but can get the compensation you deserve.
How Much Will I Have to Pay to Hire a Virginia Car Accident Attorney?
Because personal injury lawyers understand that injured clients likely don’t have the funds to pay for an attorney, most car accident lawyers in Virginia work on a contingency fee basis.
Under this arrangement, your attorney will handle your claim and represent you without charging you anything upfront or billing you for their services along the way.
Instead, they will take a percentage of your financial recovery—either part of your insurance settlement or court award—for their time and services. If your attorney cannot recover damages on your behalf, you should owe them nothing.
A contingency fee arrangement benefits you in that you won’t have to pay anything out of pocket to receive qualified, effective legal representation. It also gives your attorney an incentive to win your case or negotiate a favorable settlement.
How Long Do I Have to File a Distracted Driving Lawsuit in Virginia?
You have two years from the date of the distracted driving accident to file a lawsuit in Virginia. This is known as the statute of limitations. If you do not file a lawsuit within two years, you will lose your right to do so.
There are a few exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations. For example, if you were a minor at the time of the accident, you have two years from your 18th birthday to file a lawsuit. Additionally, if you were mentally incapacitated at the time of the accident, you may have more time to file a lawsuit.
If you don’t know whether or not the statute of limitations expired on your distracted driving accident claim, speak with an experienced Virginia distracted driving accident lawyer. A lawyer can review your specific situation and advise you on your legal rights and options.
Here are some tips for avoiding missing the statute of limitations:
- Keep track of all important dates related to your accident, such as the date of the accident, the date you received your first medical treatment, and the date your attorney submitted your claim to the insurance company.
- If you are approaching the statute of limitations deadline and have not yet settled your claim, you may want to consider filing a lawsuit. Even if you are not sure if you will need to go to trial, filing a lawsuit can protect your rights and ensure that you do not miss the deadline. In some cases, filing a lawsuit can spur an unresponsive or contentious insurance company into taking your claim seriously and negotiating a fair settlement since most insurance companies want to avoid litigation if they can.
It is important to note that the statute of limitations is just one of many factors that can affect your distracted driving accident claim. If you have any questions or concerns about your claim, please consult with an experienced distracted driving accident lawyer.
Contact an Experienced Virginia Distracted Driving Lawyer Today
Distracted driving accidents can happen for a variety of reasons in Virginia, but they all have one thing in common: they would not have occurred were it not for another driver’s carelessness and inattentiveness.
Virginia law allows injured parties to pursue compensation from those responsible for their injuries and losses, but the process is highly complex. You need the skills, knowledge, and resources of an experienced Virginia car accident lawyer to help you get the positive results you seek.
Having served Fairfax County, Prince William County, and the rest of Northern Virginia for more than 15 years, the attorneys at Right Path Law Group PLLC possess invaluable knowledge of Virginia’s personal injury laws as well as local courts and procedures.
Our competent Fairfax personal injury attorneys can handle your distracted driving claim effectively and improve your odds of achieving a successful outcome. You can trust us to deliver personalized and compassionate legal counsel during this difficult time, and we will fight hard for you each step of the way.
Contact us today for a free consultation about your Virginia distracted driving accident claim and learn how we can help you.