Distracted driving is a common occurrence in the United States.
In fact, distracted driving accounted for 3,179 deaths in 2014, according to Distraction.gov and more than 431,000 were injured because of distracted driving incidents.
Distracted driving is not just texting either. It can include talking on a phone, adjusting GPS, changing the radio station, or even talking to a passenger. Anything that takes a driver’s attention away from the road ahead is considered distracted driving.
Not all instances of distracted driving are considered illegal in the state of Arizona. So, determining if one has a viable personal injury claim after a distracted driving accident may be difficult.
That is why it is always best for any accident victim to consult with personal injury attorneys in Mesa, AZ before assuming they do or do not have a case.
What The Law Says
The state of Arizona does not employ a statewide cellphone use ban for standard drivers. In fact, the only class that is prohibited from cell phone use is a school bus driver, according to DMV.org.
However, Arizona does have a ban on texting while driving for all drivers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
It Could Be Negligence Even If It Is Not A Crime
Even if the driver is not charged criminally, a victim may have a case against the driver for distracted driving in civil court.
However, this requires the plaintiff to prove that there is a preponderance of evidence that establishes negligence on the defendant’s part.
Attorneys in Mesa, AZ can help establish negligence by a preponderance of evidence. This may require the assistance of local police or even industry experts to recreate the accident scene and show that the other driver was distracted at the time of the crash.
Ways To Prove The Driver Was Distracted
There are ways an attorney or accident victim may be able to establish that the defendant was distracted and their distraction caused the crash. These include:
1. Obtaining A Police Report
The police report will be filed after the accident and may have statements from witnesses or the other driver about what they were doing at the time of the crash. If they admit to being distracted, it will likely be in the police report. Also, if the officer witnessed the driver engaging in the distracted behavior, they can testify to such in court.
2. The Driver Admitted It To The Victim
Sometimes it is a matter of admitting to distracted driving. The driver that was responsible for the crash may admit at the accident scene that they were distracted (i.e. stating they were talking on their phone, talking to a passenger, etc.).
3. Cellphone Records
Attorneys in Mesa, AZ may be able to obtain cellphone records from the defendant. This can help establish if they were using their cell at the time of the accident. To obtain cellphone records, an attorney will need a court order from a judge
4. Video Or Photographs Of The Accident
Sometimes surveillance cameras may capture a driver talking on their phone at the time of an accident. Also, police dash cameras, cellphone videos, and photographs taken by witnesses may establish distracted driving.
Is Distracted Driving Negligent?
While it is not a crime to talk on a cellphone in the state of Arizona, the defendant can still be considered guilty of negligence per se. That means that as long as the plaintiff can establish that the accused violated a safety statute or perceived notion of safety, they can successfully prove that the defendant was negligent.
Once negligence is established, the plaintiff can collect compensation from the defendant.
To prove that a defendant was negligent, the plaintiff must show that the defendant owed them a duty of care (i.e. an obligation to drive responsibly and without distraction). They must then indicate that the driver’s distraction is what caused the accident.
If they cannot prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the distraction was what caused the accident, then there may be no case.
Often it comes down to violating a safety statute, according to Justia.
For example, the defendant was texting while driving, which caused them to run a red light. Because they ran the red light, they struck another vehicle and caused an accident. They were negligent by running the red light, and their distraction is what led to the violation of the safety statute.
The same goes for if a driver rear-ends another because they were distracted while changing the radio. They are required to come to a safe stop and keep distance between themselves and another driver. By failing to do so, they have violated a safety statute and could be considered negligent.
Attorneys In Mesa, AZ Can Assist With Distracted Driving Claims
After an accident involving a distracted driver, it is in a claimant’s best interest to speak with a personal injury attorney
An attorney can help determine if there is adequate evidence to hold the defendant liable for any injuries and damages. Also, they can help collect evidence to establish that the accused was not only distracted but negligent at the time of the crash.
Those injured in a motor vehicle collision should contact Tobler Law right away. Call 480-898-9700 to speak to an attorney during a free consultation, or request an appointment online.