The statistics speak clearly. Driving while distracted is dangerous — almost as dangerous as driving intoxicated. However, the direct effect driver distraction can have on your personal injury case is not always so clear. The fact that the other driver was distracted leading up to your accident is almost always a very strong factor in your favor. On the other hand, the fact that you were driving distracted may reduce or even preclude your ability to obtain compensation.
In the courtroom, a person is usually negligent — and therefore liable — if a jury examines the facts and finds the person was acting in an unreasonable manner and that those actions were the legal cause of the injury. However, if that person was violating a law and that violation was a legal cause of the accident, then a jury may find the person negligent per se without having to consider the other circumstances.
When distracted driving factors into a car accident, it can influence your personal injury case in the following ways:
- In New Jersey, it has been illegal since 2008 to use a handheld phone or other electronic communications device while driving, subject to some exceptions. A driver who was violating this law may be found negligent per se if an accident results.
- Even if a driver does not break any laws, driving while distracted may still be grounds for a finding of negligence if a jury can determine that the driver’s actions were unreasonable under the circumstances. Even though fiddling with the radio, talking with friends and eating in the car are not illegal, they can still be a basis for liability.
- If you were using a phone or otherwise distracted when your accident occurred, the defense may argue you were partially or fully at fault for your own injuries and reduce your compensation accordingly.
Distracted driving plays a role in a high percentage of vehicle accidents in New Jersey and throughout the United States. Our attorneys know how to examine the evidence to determine and prove whether distracted driving played a role.