In 2020, over 3,000 people were killed in distracted driving accidents, alongside thousands more seriously injured. And while distracted driving comes in many forms, texting and driving is undoubtedly the deadliest.
A driver whose blood alcohol content (BAC) is at the legal driving limit suffers a 13% reduction in reaction time; in contrast, someone texting and driving suffers a 37% reduction in reaction time.
What does this mean for car accident cases? What classifies as a distracted driving-related car accident case? Our San Diego car accident attorneys are here to provide answers and more.
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Texting & Driving Statistics
According to The Zebra, about 14% of all car accident fatalities result from texting and driving. At any given time, 7% of drivers use their phones to make a call, send a text message, navigate a GPS, or multitask in some other way.
In 2017, texting and driving accidents caused nearly $130 billion in societal damages. For comparison, according to the CDC, drunk driving accidents caused nearly $123 billion in societal damages in 2020.
For perspective, that $7 billion would be enough to fund the annual operating budget of Harvard University for a year.
Distracted Driving-Related Car Accident Cases in California
In California, the driver responsible for the accident is also responsible for the associated costs. The state is also a pure comparative negligence state; in other words, if the plaintiff shares some liability for the crash, their owed damages may be reduced by their percentage of fault.
However, fatalities due to distracted driving that occur in California have seen a reduction due to the state’s ban on using handheld devices while driving. You may only use a hands-free communication device.
Ultimately, a victim of distracted driving would file a personal injury claim as they would for any other injury. What makes distracted driving cases different, however, is the increased likelihood of a verdict in favor of the plaintiff.
Proving Distraction in Car Accident Cases
The primary goal of the plaintiff in a distracted driving-related car accident claim is to prove that the defendant was indeed distracted and, as a result, caused the plaintiff’s injuries. It is the job of the plaintiff to prove this, also called the burden of proof.
Usually, one piece of evidence isn’t enough. Several claim-supporting parts of evidence must be strung together to form a consistent, credible timeline proving the defendant was distracted.
Let’s discuss the key evidence the accuser can use to prove fault.
#1 – An Admission of Guilt From the Defendant
The moments immediately after the accident are crucial for a potential car accident case. A morally conscious driver who was distracted may approach you and immediately admit guilt. Other times, however, they may deny responsibility altogether.
If the defendant admits guilt at the scene and a police officer arrives, the plaintiff can notify the officer of the admission, who will then notate it as such in their accident report. However, an admission of guilt is not a clear-cut way to victory–an admission of guilt can be recanted and, therefore, useless in court.
An admission of guilt on its own may also not be enough to prove fault.
#2 – Eyewitness Testimony
Testimony from eyewitnesses who were there can be an excellent addition to physical evidence. The plaintiff is more likely to build a more compelling, credible, and consistent story with eyewitness testimony.
The plaintiff’s likelihood of success increases even more if they obtain several individual accounts. Physical evidence only goes so far in accident reconstruction: Having eyewitness testimony on hand may spell the difference between a swift victory and a case that drags on unnecessarily.
#3 – Police Reports
Finally, a police report can also play an integral role in proving fault and reconstructing a distracted driving accident. More often than not, the officer or officers who respond to your call will be experienced in reconstructing car accidents. They’ll likely know what to look for, what a distracted driver would usually do (and not do) in that instance, and how to ask the right questions.
While a police report can be strong evidence for your case, it should be complemented by other forms of evidence. Combining eyewitness testimony with a police report and other forms of physical evidence will increase the strength of your case.
Ultimately, whether you hope your car accident case settles out of court or goes to a trial by jury, enlisting the help of an experienced and trustworthy personal injury attorney should be your first step.
Recover Your Damages With Help From HHJ Trial Attorneys
The qualified team at HHJ Trial Attorneys is experienced and knowledgeable in San Diego car accident cases. We’ll provide the legal guidance and direction you need every step of the way. Receive the knowledge and support you deserve from our award-winning partners.
Contact us today for a free consultation.