According to CDC data, nine people die, and more than 1,000 are injured every day due to traffic accidents caused by a distracted driver. Distracted driving may be one of the most common reasons for traffic-related accidents, but it’s also difficult to prove in court. To get compensation for their injuries, a person must be able to prove that a driver was negligent and that their negligence led directly to an accident.
The Austin motorcycle accident attorneys of Loewy Law Firm can take the worry out of your claim or lawsuit. We can handle all the paperwork and meet the appropriate deadlines, so you don’t have to do anything but recover from your injuries.
Motorcyclists don’t have the same physical protection that is afforded to passengers in automobiles, so distracted drivers are a particular danger to them. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), motorcyclists made up 14% of all traffic-related fatalities in 2017, despite motorcycles making up just 3 percent of all vehicles on the road.
What Is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is driving while focused on another activity aside from driving. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) puts distracted driving into three categories:
Manual – taking your hands off the wheel, such as when you’re texting, adjusting the radio, or adjusting your seatbelt.
Visual – taking your eyes off the road, such as when you turn to speak with a passenger next to you or in the backseat.
Cognitive – taking your mind is off the road, such as when you use a voice-activated electronic system, get into an argument with a passenger, or daydream.
While most of these activities aren’t illegal, they could cause a driver to be held liable for an accident with a motorcycle if they were driving distracted. Some common examples of driver distractions include:
- Texting while driving
- Using a mobile device
- Eating and drinking
- Adjusting the radio
- Using a GPS while driving
- Checking a map
- Holding a pet
- Talking with other passengers
- Adjusting the AC/heat
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has stated that distracted driving is a factor in, at minimum, 10% of all traffic-related crashes.
Why Is Distracted Driving So Dangerous Around Motorcycles?
Distracted driving puts the lives of everyone at risk, but this is especially true for motorcyclists. Motorcyclists don’t have the same level of protection that automobile drivers do. Car drivers and their passengers have the physical framework of their vehicle protecting them from injury. They have numerous built-in safety features, such as seatbelts and airbags, that are specifically designed to protect them from injury in a collision. Motorcyclists don’t have any of these safeguards. When motorcyclists are involved in a collision, the crash hits their bodies directly.
Motorcycles also don’t have the same ability to stop or swerve in order to avoid collisions that automobiles do. If a motorcyclist encounters an obstacle in the road, braking or swerving could have fatal consequences.
Motorcyclists are also physically exposed to the elements, including rain, snow, sleet, and ice. Inclement weather can make operating a motorcycle that much more dangerous.
Drivers already sometimes fail to see motorcycles because they are focused on other automobiles, but distracted driving can exacerbate this problem. There are many ways that distracted driving can cause accidents with motorcycles. Some examples include when a driver:
- Makes a turn without noticing a motorcyclist
- Is unable to see a motorcycle in their blind spot and suddenly changes lanes
- Rear-ends a motorcycle at a traffic stop
- Isn’t prepared for a motorcyclist’s abrupt maneuver
Injuries Caused by Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is a big problem in the United States. According to the CDC, in 2018, over 2,800 people were killed in accidents where a distracted driver was involved, while about 400,000 were injured in traffic accidents caused by a distracted driver. Motorcyclists who were hurt in an accident with a distracted driver are far likelier to have serious injuries because they’re more vulnerable in general.
The landmark Hurt Report found decades ago that most crashes involving a car and a motorcycle happen because the driver did not see the motorcycle, which is why it’s so important that drivers are aware of their surroundings at all times and looking out for all types of moving vehicles, not just other automobiles.
How Do You Prove That a Driver Was Distracted?
Distracted driving isn’t always easy to prove in court because the injured party must show that the distracted driver’s negligence directly led to the traffic accident. If you are the victim of a crash involving a distracted driver, there are several types of evidence that you should gather in order to build the strongest possible case.
- Police reports. Law enforcement may make an initial assessment of which party was at fault in their police report. If you noticed that a driver was distracted before a collision, you should report that to the police so it can be included in law enforcement’s assessment of the crash.
- Photo or video evidence. This type of evidence can be especially powerful in court. This evidence includes police cam footage, surveillance camera footage, or photos and videos shot by any potential witnesses.
- Eyewitness testimony. Eyewitnesses could be any bystanders, pedestrians, or drivers of other vehicles who may have seen the crash occur. Police can take statements from them and they can be called upon to testify in court, which can be hugely beneficial to your case.
- Phone records. If a driver was texting or talking on the phone while driving, cell phone records can be used to prove that they were distracted.
- Driver testimony. If a driver openly admits that their distracted driving led to an accident, that can be used to support your case. However, this isn’t the same as a criminal confession. Just because the driver admits that they were negligent and that their negligence led to the accident doesn’t mean that the court will allow their admission as evidence. It could be ruled hearsay. Still, such a statement is a good thing to have in your arsenal and can be used to support your case.
Compensation for Your Distracted Driving Claim
A motorcyclist who was injured because of a distracted driver’s negligence may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and the pain and suffering they endured as the result of their injuries.
How Loewy Law Can Help
If you or a loved one was injured in a motorcycle accident caused by a distracted driver in Austin, TX, our attorneys can help. Our knowledgeable and experienced lawyers can help you navigate the complex process of collecting evidence, developing facts, and building a strong case that will stand up to an insurance adjuster’s investigation as well as in court. Get in touch with one of our attorneys at (512) 280-0800 for a consultation today.