According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving claimed 3,166 lives in the year 2017 alone. Further, 2.9% of all drivers used a handheld cell phone while driving in 2017. With the prevalent use of electronic devices, many Northern Virginia drivers write texts, talk, use electronic navigation systems or even check social media while driving. The NHTSA notes that driving with one’s eyes off of the road for just 5 seconds at a 55 miles per hour speed is like driving the length of a football field with one’s eyes closed.
If you’ve suffered an injury as a result of a motor vehicle accident caused by a distracted driver, the car accident attorneys at Surovell, Isaacs & Levy can help. Our Fairfax, Virginia-based personal injury law firm skillfully represents victims of accidents caused by distracted driving. If you’ve suffered an injury caused by someone’s distracted driving, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact our law office today to discuss the possibility of seeking compensation for your injuries.
What Causes Fairfax Residents to Engage in Distracted Driving?
Gone are the days when drivers would hop into their car, turn on the car stereo and begin driving. In our modern technological era, electronic distractions inside moving vehicles abound. Screaming children in the backseat, eating or fiddling with makeup have always been causes of distracted driving. Technological devices add a plethora of ways to drive in a distracted manner.
There are three main categories of distracted driving, including:
- Cognitive distraction – when a driver loses his or her mental concentration and focus on driving
- Visual distraction – when the driver looks at something besides the road and the surrounding vehicles
- Manual distraction – when the driver takes their hands off of the steering wheel to hold, touch, or move another object
Passengers Commonly Distract Drivers
Other passengers are one of the most common driver distractions. Families often face busy, time-constrained commutes to school and work. It’s easy for parents to lose their focus on the road while they are rushing their children to school. Kids can also distract their parents, by loud sibling rivalry in the backseat or by a baby or toddler’s screams. Even having an in-depth conversation with another adult passenger could distract the driver.
Eating, Drinking, and Grooming Are Causes of Distracted Driving
More people than ever are eating meals in their cars on the way to and from work. It is challenging to hold food while adequately operating a motor vehicle. Focusing on unwrapping food, spilled drinks, or dropped food take a driver’s attention away from the road. Simply unwrapping a sandwich or straw or looking down at a receipt could distract a driver enough to cause an accident.
Cellphones and Other Electronic Devices Contribute to Distracted Driving
Cell phone use is a leading cause of distracted driving. Whether a driver is texting, using a cellphone camera, using an app, or dialing a number, cell phones commonly cause dangerous distracted driving. Even those drivers using a hands-free device can become distracted when programming their hands-free devices or verbally telling their cell phone to call someone.
GPS and navigation-based services are also common causes of distraction. When a navigation service gives directions audibly, many drivers look down to the digital map for further visual instructions. In-car entertainment features also cause distracted driving. If a driver doesn’t know how to operate the numerous technological controls in newer vehicles, he or she could easily spend time focusing on the keys and not on driving.
Distracted Drivers Often Breach Their Legal Duty of Care to Other Drivers
Virginia law allows people injured by someone else’s negligent or reckless behavior to recover monetary damages for their injuries. A plaintiff who brings the lawsuit must prove a few elements to succeed in personal injury lawsuits. In Virginia, automobile drivers owe other drivers a duty to act reasonably under the circumstances. When a driver acts negligently by driving while distracted, they breach their duty of care. When their distracted driving causes a car accident resulting in personal injuries, the injured party can sue the distracted driver for damages.
Financial Compensation Available to Those Injured By Distracted Driving in Virginia
Successful personal plaintiffs can receive several types of monetary compensation from the distracted driver. If a distracted driver causes another person severe injuries, a large amount of payment may be necessary. In the case of spinal injury, for example, paralysis may result, and around-the-clock care may become necessary. Plaintiffs can receive compensation for the cost of medical treatment related to your injuries, such as the cost of:
- Clinical therapy or counseling services
- Physical rehabilitation and physical therapy
- Medical equipment
- Doctor’s visits
- Hospital stays and surgery
- Home health care nurses
- Future medical expenses, when necessary
- Lost income
- The property damage of your bicycle, motorcycle, or any other possession that can be destroyed or damaged in the accident.
Courts can also award non-economic general damages. These damages are more challenging to calculate because of their nature. Those who have suffered real physical injuries may receive monetary compensation for the following:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental Anguish
- Compensation for deformity or disfigurement
- Payment for the inconvenience the injury causes
In some rare instances when the defendant’s conduct is particularly egregious, Virginia law allows the jury to assign punitive damages. Virginia law limits the total amount of punitive damages to no more than $350,000.
Contact Our Fairfax County Distracted Driving Attorney
The attorneys at Surovell, Isaacs & Levy are familiar with all aspects of distracted driving personal injury lawsuits. Our attorneys have served Northern Virginia and Washington D.C. clients for over four decades with distinction. After listening to the facts surrounding your car accident, we will advise you as to the best steps to take in your distracted driving claim. Contact our office today to set up a free consultation.