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The Dangers of Distracted Driving


According to the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, distracted driving is the leading factor contributing to motor vehicle accidents in New York. Tragically, these types of collisions cause thousands of injuries and fatalities nationwide each year — all of which could have been prevented with responsible driving behaviors. If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in an accident caused by a driver’s distraction or inattention, you may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit against the negligent party.

What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving can be visual, cognitive, or manual. Anything that takes a driver’s eyes or mind off the road — or their hands off the wheel — is a distraction. Importantly, distracted driving doesn’t only include talking on a cellphone while driving. It can consist of a wide variety of activities that take away a driver’s attention from operating a vehicle.

Common forms of distracted driving behaviors that lead to accidents can include:

  • Texting
  • Talking with passengers
  • Eating or drinking
  • Viewing a GPS
  • Reading the newspaper
  • Opening an email
  • Adjusting the radio
  • Using an app
  • Daydreaming
  • Grooming or applying cosmetics
  • Taking photos

Additionally, driving while drowsy and distracted can increase the chances a collision will occur. Not only can the occupants in other vehicles on the road be injured in a distracted driving accident, but pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcycle operators or passengers can also be struck by a driver who isn’t paying attention to their surroundings.

New York’s Distracted Driving Laws

Although many of the behaviors that constitute distracted driving are legal, they can still be hazardous. If another driver engaged in an activity that caused them to be distracted while operating their vehicle, they might be held accountable in a personal injury lawsuit for any accident that arose as a result. In addition, if a driver violated the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) by texting or talking on a cell phone while driving, they may be held liable under the legal theory of negligence per se.

Specifically, VTL 1225(c) prohibits the use of cell phones while driving. VTL 1225(d) bans texting, email, and using applications on mobile devices while operating a vehicle. Under the doctrine of negligence per se, a plaintiff in a personal injury case doesn’t have to prove that a defendant’s actions of texting or talking on a cell phone while driving were unreasonable. In such instances, a defendant would be presumed to have acted negligently based solely on their violation of the VTL.

What Compensation Can You Recover in a Distracted Driving Accident?

If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by a distracted driver, you might be entitled to recover your damages by filing a personal injury action. Although no-fault benefits may cover a certain amount of your lost wages and medical expenses following a car crash, it is rarely enough to cover the full extent of your monetary losses — the no-fault system also doesn’t compensate for pain and suffering. If you’ve sustained what New York law defines as a “serious injury,” you may be compensated for both your economic and non-economic losses.

Economic losses in a personal injury lawsuit compensate for medical bills that were not reimbursed through no-fault, out-of-pocket expenses, and lost wages. Non-economic damages may be awarded for the physical pain and emotional suffering you experienced due to the accident. If you lost a loved one in a distracted driving accident, you may be entitled to recover your economic damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. Although you can’t recover monetary compensation for the grief you endured, you may be awarded compensation on the victim’s behalf for the pain and suffering they experienced due to their injuries prior to passing.

Contact an Experienced New York Personal Injury Attorney

If you were hurt in an accident caused by a distracted driver, it’s essential to contact a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who can advise you regarding your legal rights and remedies. The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. has more than 30 years of experience advocating for the rights of car accident victims and recovering the maximum monetary compensation they deserve.

 The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. has convenient office locations in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn, as well as mobile locations serving Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester, Rockland County, Nassau County, and Suffolk County. Contact us today for a consultation.