Distracted Driving and Its Legal Consequences

In today’s age, where distractions keep piling on, distracted driving has become a real concern and something that we have to consistently combat. Between others in the car, phone notifications, and the busyness of our lives, remaining entirely focused while driving has become much more difficult.

The dangers of distracted driving are well-documented; According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,142 lives were lost in 2020 due to distracted driving. If you have been in or been somewhat responsible for a distracted driving accident, you may want to speak to a car accident lawyer about potential next steps.

Types of Distracted Driving

The three primary categories of distracted driving are visual, manual, and cognitive.

  • Visual distractions occur when a driver takes their eyes off the road, such as glancing at a smartphone or checking a GPS device.
  • Manual distractions involve the driver taking one or both hands off the steering wheel, whether to adjust the radio, eat, or reach for an object.
  • Cognitive distractions divert a driver’s mental focus from the task of driving, which can include daydreaming, engaging in deep conversations, or simply being preoccupied with personal matters.

Each type of distraction poses a significant risk to the driver, passengers, and others on the road.

Texting While Driving

Texting while driving is a particularly dangerous form of distracted driving, as it often involves all three types of distraction: visual, manual, and cognitive. The legal consequences of texting while driving vary by state but generally include fines, points added to the driver’s record, and potentially increased insurance rates. But these consequences pale in comparison to the injuries or fatalities that can result from texting and driving.

Individual’s Liability for Distracted Driving

Distracted driving can significantly impact the determination of fault in an auto accident. If a driver is found to have been distracted at the time of the crash, they may be held liable for damages, injuries, or fatalities resulting from the accident.

This liability can extend to both civil and criminal legal repercussions, depending on the severity of the incident and the laws in the jurisdiction where the accident occurred. In some instances, insurance companies may increase premiums or even deny coverage for drivers found to be engaging in distracted driving behaviors.

Employer Liability for Employee Car Accidents

When employees are involved in accidents while using company-issued devices or performing work-related tasks, employers may be held liable for any resulting damages or injuries. A recent example of this was Tracy Morgan’s settlement after a Walmart truck struck his limousine and left him badly injured.

This liability can arise from claims of negligent hiring, training, or supervision, or a legal concept called “vicarious liability,” in which employers can be responsible for the actions of their employees during the course of employment. To mitigate these risks, employers should develop and enforce a clear distracted driving policy for employees on the use of mobile devices and safe driving practices.

Employers should provide training to educate employees about distracted driving laws and other relevant driving laws to reduce the risk of employee car accidents.

Parental Responsibility for Teen Distracted Driving

Parents can be held legally responsible for the actions of their teenage drivers, particularly when it comes to accidents caused by distracted driving. Some states have enacted laws that make parents or guardians jointly liable for any damages or injuries resulting from their teen’s negligence behind the wheel. In California, parents or guardians of teen drivers accept civil liability for their teen’s actions on the road.

To help reduce the risk of teen distracted driving, parents should model safe driving behaviors, establish clear rules and expectations for their teenage drivers, and educate them about the dangers of distracted driving. In addition, parents can consider using monitoring technologies or apps to track their teen’s driving habits and enforce safe practices.

Wrongful Death Resulting From Distracted Driving

Distracted driving can lead to severe accidents, including those that result in fatalities. In these cases, the surviving family members of the deceased may file a wrongful death lawsuit to seek justice and compensation for their loss. A successful wrongful death claim can help families recover damages for medical expenses, funeral costs, loss of income, loss of consortium, and emotional pain and suffering.

While no amount of compensation can bring back a lost loved one, a successful Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer can help provide some measure of closure and financial relief for grieving families, as well as serve as a powerful deterrent to others by emphasizing the potentially devastating consequences of distracted driving.

Speak to one of the Best Wrongful Death Attorneys [Los Angeles]

John J. Perlstein is one of the best wrongful death attorneys [Los Angeles, Orange County, and surrounding areas], with a strong understanding of distracted driving cases. He can guide you through a wrongful death claim, distracted driving claim, or any other personal injury claim that you may have. John has been helping victims and families of victims seek monetary recourse for over 25 years. To set up a free consultation about your potential claim, fill out our online contact form or give us a call at (213) 252-1070.

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