San Diego Attorneys for Car Accidents Caused by Distracted Driving
Car accidents are the most common type of personal injury case. Being common doesn’t mean they’re not painful, emotionally damaging, and physically traumatic for you and your loved ones if you are involved in an accident. It can be especially hard to deal with when the accident wasn’t your fault but due to another person’s carelessness or negligence while driving.
Distracted driving is an increasing cause of negligent accidents today. If you have been involved in a car accident, and the other driver was texting or talking on their phone at the time of the crash, you might be able to claim that their negligence and distraction were the cause of your injuries. You have a right to compensation for the physical and emotional harm their carelessness caused. Contact the San Diego car accident attorneys of Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers at (619) 233-5020 to set up a free consultation about your case today.
Distractions in California Law
California has some of the strictest laws in the nation regarding the use of handheld communications devices when driving. As of April 2021, no handheld cell phone may be used by any driver unless it is configured as a hands-free device. This includes the use of the device for texting. This is not surprising since a survey of people who had been involved in accidents and near-miss incidents found that nearly 60 percent of respondents said the other driver had been talking or texting at the time of the incident.
Beginning in July 2021, the California DMV will add a point to your driving record for any citation received in the last 36 months for the use of a cellphone while driving. This will adversely impact your car insurance and could result in it being canceled. In addition, fines in excess of $150 per citation can be assessed for a first offense.
California law enforcement treats most types of distractions, such as eating while driving, talking with passengers, putting on makeup, and so on, as “secondary enforcement” offenses. That is, if a CHP officer sees you eating while driving, you probably won’t get a ticket. But if you’re involved in a car accident and have cheeseburger all over your face, “distracted driving” will be part of the report under “cause of accident.”
Texting and talking on your cellphone are “primary enforcement” offenses. A CHP officer can pull you over just for seeing you driving and texting and write you a ticket solely for violation of that law. Texting while driving is approaching DUI as a cause of accidents on California highways, so it is taken seriously by law enforcement.
How Does Distracted Driving Cause Accidents?
Many people think they can text or talk on their cellphones and drive as easily as they could talk or text in their living rooms. After all, your body isn’t going anywhere, and all you’re doing is talking. And sitting in California traffic should be a safe enough place to take your eyes off the road for a second, right?
According to studies done by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), texting and driving and drinking and driving look a lot alike. It can be hard to tell if someone is texting or drunk behind the wheel when watching them wobble down the road. Telltale signs of both include:
- Erratic speed changes, speeding up and braking improperly
- Ignoring traffic signals, signs, and barricades
- Swerving across lanes and over medians
- Ignoring other objects on the road
It turns out that both drinking and texting cause a disconnect between the cognitive (thinking) and motor (movement) centers of your brain. The reasons are different since in drinking, the cause is chemical, and in texting, the cause is physical. But the result is the same. Your eyes leave the road and can’t return in time to correct your forward movement if something goes wrong.
How Does This Affect My Claim?
If you have been involved in an accident where the other driver is believed to have been texting or talking on their phone, proving this will become an important part of your legal case. Texting while driving does not rise to the level of criminal behavior, but it may help to establish an element of negligence.
Texting while driving is considered “negligence per se” in California. This means that when someone violates a statute and causes another person harm, they are presumed to have been negligent without additional proof of negligence being required. This type of legal theory can be explained more fully to you by your attorney.
However, if the defendant received a citation at the scene for texting and driving, this information will be on the police report. Once this information has been received by your attorney, it makes proving the other driver’s responsibility for the accident much easier.
It is important to note that the other driver can dispute the claim. California also follows the “pure comparative fault” rule, which means you can be found partially responsible for the accident, but still be allowed to recover some compensation. For these reasons, it is important to be honest with the insurance company and your attorney. It’s also better not to text and drive.
How We Can Help
Both your insurance company and the other person’s company would be happier if you and the other driver were equally at fault. The adjuster’s job is to keep settlements as small as possible. At Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers, we believe that if you did nothing wrong, you are entitled to the compensation you deserve for the injuries you suffered. If the other driver was too busy texting to pay attention to traffic lights, then their insurer should have to pay for your injuries.
Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers has represented car accident victims since 2007. We provide large firm benefits and small firm compassion, and we do it well. Our team will review your case and make sure everything is completed on time and filed with the right insurance company or court so that you don’t have to wait for the case to proceed.
If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident due to someone else’s distracted driving, don’t wait. In California, you only have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit. Call Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers at (619) 233-5020 or contact us online to arrange your free and confidential consultation today.