Last year, a Georgia teenager made headlines after causing a serious car accident, in which a young man sustained irreparable traumatic brain injury, because she was using Snapchat while driving. The application’s makers had recently launched a new speed filter that allowed drivers to post selfies that indicated at what speed the user was traveling. The news story only reinforced the public’s growing concern over increasing incidents of distracted driving and resulting car accidents. The victim’s family members have filed complaints against both the driver and Snapchat.
Types of Distractions
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 1,161 people are injured in car accidents caused by distracted driving on a daily basis. Although using social media while driving is one of the most common causes of distracted driving, there are unfortunately, many others. Generally, all types of distractions fall under one or more of the following categories:
- Visual, which requires a driver to take his or her eyes off of the road;
- Manual, which requires a driver to take his or her hands off of the wheel; and
- Cognitive distractions, which occur when a driver takes his or her mind off of driving.
Many distractions fall under more than one category. For instance, texting is an especially dangerous distraction for drivers because it falls under all three categories and is visually, manually, and cognitively distracting. Some other common distractions include:
- Eating or drinking;
- Using in-vehicle technologies;
- Talking to passengers;
- Smoking; and
- Using a cell phone.
While these are some of the most common types of distracted driving, any type of activity can qualify as a distraction if it takes a driver’s attention away from the road.
Distracted driving can cause especially horrific injuries because the drivers are often unaware that an accident is about to occur and so do not attempt to slow or turn before impact. Injuries can range in severity and include the following:
- Minor and deep lacerations;
- Broken or crushed bones;
- Head trauma;
- Minor to serious burns;
- Traumatic brain injury;
- Neurological damage;
- Paralysis; and
- Emotional distress.
Treating these types of injuries can be extremely expensive, especially when the injuries are severe. For instance, car accident victims who become paralyzed are not only required to pay thousands of dollars in emergency treatment, but may also need to cover the cost of physical therapy, medications, and nursing care for the rest of their lives. Some injuries are so severe that they compromise other parts of the body, causing additional illnesses, including infections and pneumonia, which must also be treated.
The costs of treatment can still be high even for less severe injuries. Broken bones must be set and require a doctor’s supervision over time. For seriously broken or crushed bones, victims may even need to go to physical therapy before regaining full movement. Other injuries require the use of expensive wheelchairs or other medical devices. Injured parties and their families may also need to pay additional costs, such as expenses for:
- Reconstructive surgeries;
- Follow-up appointments;
- Prescription medications;
- Appointments with specialists;
- Transportation to and from the hospital; and
- Psychiatric therapy.
Even those with insurance may find these costs difficult to meet and can quickly become overwhelmed financially. Fortunately, victims of another person’s distracted driving can recover funds spent on injuries sustained as a result of the crash. This can also include compensation for other costs, including:
- Lost wages;
- Loss of future income;
- Property damage; and
- Pain and suffering.
Being able to recover these damages is especially important for car accident victims who may have been required to take weeks, months, or even years off from work because of their injuries. This can make it difficult to pay medical bills and other expenses, especially if a household is supported by only one income. Spouses or partners may also be required to take time off in order to help with transportation and medical care, cutting even further into a family’s budget.
To obtain compensation for these losses, an injured party must be able to establish that another person’s negligence or recklessness caused the crash. This requires demonstrating that:
- The defendant owed the injured party a duty of care;
- The defendant breached that duty by behaving unreasonably; and
- The breach caused the plaintiff to suffer an injury.
Because Georgia adheres to the legal theory of modified comparative negligence, an injured party who contributes to an accident may still be able to obtain compensation in an amount diminished by his or her percentage of fault in causing the crash.
Tips for Preventing Distracted Driving
Although there are laws in place to prevent drivers from becoming distracted while driving, it is still important to take precautionary measures, including:
- Making sure that any loose gear, such as sporting equipment, iPods, and purses are stored in a location where a driver will not be tempted to reach for them;
- Securing children in car seats or with seatbelts before beginning a trip;
- Refraining from snacking;
- Pulling the car over if another activity requires the driver’s attention;
- Scanning the road at all times while also using the side and rear-view mirrors;
- Completing all personal grooming before starting the engine;
- Asking passengers to enter GPS coordinates or answer phone calls;
- Putting away any electronic distractions;
- Adjusting the seat, air conditioning, radio, and GPS before starting the car; and
- Ensuring that any pets are safely restrained before beginning travel.
Injuries sustained in car crashes can be life-threatening or have permanent consequences. Taking a few simple precautionary steps can go a long way towards preventing people from causing or suffering painful injuries.
Contact an Experienced Augusta Car Accident Attorney Today
Distracted driving can take a devastating toll on victims and their families. Fortunately, people who choose to drive negligently can and should be held responsible for the injuries that result, so if you or a loved one live in Augusta and were injured in a crash caused by another person’s distracted driving, please contact the law firm of Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. by completing one of our contact forms and a member of our legal team will assist you in scheduling a free consultation with an experienced car accident attorney.