According to the CDC, each day there are nine people in the United States who are killed in fatal crashes involving a distracted driver. Distracted driving is any activity that takes a driver’s attention away from the primary task of driving. This can include things like texting, eating and drinking, talking to passengers, using a navigation system, and adjusting the radio.
Distracted drivers may be teen drivers, school bus drivers, commercial drivers or anyone else texting while driving or engaged in other distractions. In many places, Illinois included, there are state distracted driving laws in place to combat distracted driving and help prevent the accidents it has the potential to cause.
Driving while distracted is defined by the CDC as doing something else that takes attention away from the road. Distracted driving has been linked to an increased risk of getting into a motor vehicle accident and negatively impacts traffic safety.
There are three main types of distractions: visual distractions (taking your eyes off the road), manual distractions (taking your hands off the wheel), and cognitive distractions (taking your mind off driving). These types of driver distraction can significantly increase the risk of an accident by increasing the chance of a car crash, colliding with another vehicle or object, or driving off the road.
Distracted driving causes accidents when someone is engaging in anything that takes their focus from the road and prevents them from reacting to road conditions and other dangers—ultimately making themselves the danger.
Examples of accidents caused by distracted driving include:
A driver swerving out of their lane and into oncoming traffic
A driver failing to stop at a red light or other traffic signals
One driver rear-ending another vehicle
Failing to yield when a pedestrian is crossing the road
In Illinois, it is illegal to use an electronic communication device while driving. This includes a hand held cell phone, laptops, tablets, and two-way radios. The only exceptions to this law are in cases of emergency or when the driver is using a hands-free device. Hands free cell phones, for example, may only be used by drivers who are aged 19 or older.
Illinois distracted driving laws also carry heavy penalties for distracted drivers who break the primary law. Penalties for violating the state distracted driving primary enforcement laws include a fine of up to $75 for a first offense, $100 for a second offense, and $125 for a third offence, and $150 for a fourth offense.
A motorist’s license will be revoked in Illinois if he or she accumulates three moving violations during a 365-day period. A driver who is under the age of 21 may have his or her license suspended for two moving infractions within a two-year period.
Many different behaviors can remove your focus from the road. Anything that takes your attention away from the task of driving could be classified as distracted driving. One of the most well-known forms of distracted driving is cell phone use.
Texting, scrolling, Facebooking, taking selfies, vlogging, posting, emailing, or surfing the internet are all forms of distracted driving.
In addition to hand held cell phone use, here are some other behaviors that cause drivers to become distracted and could lead to accidents:
Eating and drinking while driving
Changing the radio
Interacting with passengers
Putting on makeup
When the distracted driver causes an accident, they can ruin the victims’ lives.
For instance, an accident victim could be severely injured, sustaining a broken leg that takes months to heal. The break could result in permanent injury, lost mobility, physical pain, and other problems.
Injuries can also lead to many other negative life changes. For example, a person who is seriously injured may be unable to work, provide an income for themselves and their families, and enjoy their lives. They could deal with mental distress due to their injuries and the accident itself.
Injuries that could cause significant upset to a victim’s life include:
Spinal cord injuries
Damage to organs or major body systems
If you were hurt in an accident caused by distracted driving, you may be wondering if you can seek compensation for your injuries and losses. You can obtain compensation through a personal injury claim or lawsuit. The person who was driving distracted could be liable for everything you have been through and all the losses you suffered.
For example, if your accident caused you to sustain a spinal cord injury, you could go after the at-fault driver through the civil injury claims process.
Below is a list of damages you may be able to recover.
Pain and suffering
Lost life enjoyment
Future lost earning capacity
Cost of mental health treatment
Cost of physical therapy
When you have suffered losses due to a vehicle accident, ICS §2-1116 allows you to recoup those losses through a pursuing personal injury case. You need to follow the process outlined under the law to receive financial compensation for your accident.
The main steps in the personal injury case process that your lawyer can take over for you include:
Investigate your accident: you and your lawyer need to gather evidence to prove fault, your injuries, and your damages.
Calculate your claim’s value: your lawyer can assess and add up all your damages to determine the right amount of compensation to pursue.
Submit all necessary paperwork promptly: whether it is the demand letter to the other party’s insurance company or your lawsuit, you can count on your lawyer to submit everything on time. Note that 735 ILCS 5/13-202 allows two years for car accident victims to bring their lawsuit against the other party.
Negotiate a settlement: the other party’s insurance company might underestimate your claim and offer you a lowball settlement that won’t cover all your damages. You can rely on your lawyer to help make sure that you are awarded fair compensation. If they cannot agree on an amount, we can take your case to trial.
If you were hurt in a vehicle accident caused by a driver who was distracted, it is important to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. They can help determine fault and the severity of your damages. Then they can help you pursue fair compensation for your losses through settlement negotiations or a personal injury lawsuit.
Call today for a free case evaluation.