Distracted driving has always been a problem, but smartphones have added a new difficulty level for motorists trying to get safely down the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has studied the problem and reports some sobering statistics:
About 13 percent of distracted driving fatalities are attributed to using a phone or texting while driving.
Texting or phone use accounts for about 9 percent of distracted driving injuries, as well as 9 percent of all distracted driving crashes.
In 2020, 396 people died in texting-and-driving crashes.
Studies have found that texting and driving can slow a driver’s reaction time as much as drinking four beers in an hour.
Like most states, Connecticut has banned texting or using a handheld device while driving for motorists of all ages, although drivers who are at least 18 can talk on the phone using a handheld device. Drivers who are caught texting or otherwise driving while distracted may be subject to fines of $150, $300, or $500, depending on how many previous infractions they’ve had.
But what happens when drivers ignore the law, text behind the wheel, and cause an accident that leaves you injured?
If a distracted driver has harmed you or a loved one, you could be facing an onslaught of medical bills and other expenses while simultaneously being unable to work for weeks or months while you recover. Meanwhile, the other driver may claim no responsibility for the accident, possibly even blaming you—which can complicate your insurance claim. They may also deny that they were texting, even if you witnessed it yourself. As for the insurance company, they’re likely to side with the other driver, so they have a reason to deny your claim.
How Can a Bridgeport Texting Accident Attorney Help With Your Claim?
We’ll review the police report, ask you questions about the accident, and work to prove that the other driver was at fault. Our investigators are skilled in uncovering new evidence in car accident cases, including evidence of texting and driving. Once we’ve obtained enough evidence to build a strong case, we’ll negotiate with the insurance company to get you the best settlement possible.
How Can You Prove Someone Was Texting and Driving?
This is a frequent disagreement between two drivers in a car accident. Driver A might remember seeing Driver B looking down while plowing through a red light. Driver B may claim they did no such thing, or they were just glancing at the time, etc. The police officer who responds to the scene will take both statements and ultimately give their opinion on what happened. They may believe one driver over another, but since they didn’t witness the accident, their opinion can be challenged in court with additional evidence.
Once we file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, we can ask the court to access the other driver’s phone records to learn what they were doing with their phone at the time of the accident. We can use data from both cars’ event data recorders or EDRs to pinpoint the time of the accident or the time the 911 call was made to report it. This usually allows us to establish that the other driver was texting, scrolling social media, or otherwise using their phone for something other than a hands-free call.
Occasionally, we find that the phone was not in use, either because the other driver really wasn’t texting and driving or because they were using someone else’s phone. Either way, we may still be able to prove they were at fault for the accident even if we can’t prove they were texting and driving. We will search for other evidence, such as photos or videos of the crash, witness testimony, other information in the EDR data, etc. Then, we’ll craft a strategy to win your case and recover your damages.
What Damages Are Available in a Texting and Driving Case?
Once we establish the other driver’s culpability, we’ll work to estimate how much your claim should be worth. In Connecticut, double or triple punitive damages can be awarded depending upon the violation.Typical damages may include:
Medical bills. In the time it takes another driver to pick the right emojis for their text, you could have broken bones, facial injuries from the airbag, internal injuries, back and neck injuries, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), scarring, and more. We’ll start with your current bills, and then we’ll ask you about continued treatment. In most cases, we wait until your treatment is finished to settle the case so that no additional bills are left out. However, in cases of severe injury where you may need continued care indefinitely, we will estimate your future medical costs.
Related expenses. Aside from doctor or hospital bills, you might have other out-of-pocket expenses that don’t immediately come to mind but cost you money nonetheless. For instance, we’ll ask you about prescription copays, mobility devices like crutches or a wheelchair, travel costs to see a specialist, buying equipment to do physical therapy exercises at home, etc.
Lost income. While you recover from your injuries, you might be unable to do your job, or you may only be able to perform limited tasks. If your time off exceeds your PTO, you could lose days, weeks, or even months of income. Even if your workplace provides a generous amount of PTO, you will be using paid days that you could have saved for a more pleasant occasion (like a vacation).
Lost earning potential. In more severe cases, you could become permanently unable to work due to disability or chronic pain. Or, you might have to switch to a lower-paying but less physically demanding position. In these situations, we will fight to get you compensation for your lost or reduced earning potential.
Permanent disability or disfigurement. Any significant, permanent injury can limit your quality of life, whether or not it affects your income, and we can seek compensation for this loss as well.
Pain and suffering. The texting driver’s momentary lack of attention can leave you in physical pain for weeks or months, and sometimes permanently. But emotional or mental distress is also concerning, as some studies have found that up to 27.5 percent of car accident victims may develop PTSD. You deserve compensation for both your physical and mental pain and distress.
Property damage. You never know how expensive body work and other collision repairs can be until you have an accident and get an estimate from the body shop. Unfortunately, the other driver’s insurance company may disagree about how much repairs should cost or only offer you part of your damages. They also may not think to cover your car’s depreciation if the accident affected its value. We’ll work to ensure you receive the total value of repairs or replacement, plus depreciation if applicable.
Wrongful death. If a texting driver cost your loved one their life, you may want to see them behind bars. In some cases, this does happen, but the criminal court has a high burden of proof. Sometimes, we meet people who are devastated to learn the texting driver won’t be convicted of a crime, usually due to lack of evidence. We understand how frustrating these situations are, and we may be able to pursue a civil claim against the driver whether or not they have faced criminal charges. This is because the civil court has a lower burden of proof. Damages may include loss of financial support, loss of consortium, funeral or burial expenses, final medical bills, and more.
What if the Insurance Company Makes You an Offer?
That’s great news, but please review it with an attorney before you make a decision. Many initial offers from insurance companies are lowball offers that significantly undervalue your claim. In fact, if you receive an offer quickly after your accident, that’s often a sign that the insurance adjuster knows you have a solid case and wants to minimize their payout. As a result, they may extend an offer that only covers some of your damages or fails to consider future costs. Your attorney can help you understand what your claim is really worth, and if the offer doesn’t measure up, we can negotiate with the insurer for a better deal.
Where Can You Find a Bridgeport Texting Accident Law Firm?
Please contact Bert McDowell Injury Law for a free consultation about your case. There is no obligation, and if we take your case, you won’t owe us anything until we win or settle it.
The firm was founded by attorney Bert McDowell Jr., an experienced litigator who has recovered millions of dollars in compensation for his clients. He’s been featured in 40 Under 40 Connecticut Magazine and chosen for the National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40. Community service is Mr. McDowell’s passion, and he has received the 100 Men of Color Award for his nonprofit efforts and stellar legal reputation. Additionally, he has been a Super Lawyers Rising Star for four consecutive years and received the Man of Excellence Award from the organization Black People Rocks.