Every day, millions of North Carolina residents get behind the wheel of their vehicles. And when we do, it’s quite easy to forget the fact that driving is a rather complex task that usually requires ample attention on the road. It’s not just our hands that need to be on the wheel; our eyes need to be on the road and our minds in the game.
Since so many people drive often, it’s easy to become comfortable behind the wheel and overestimate driving abilities. Plus, with the recent explosion of in-car technologies over the past few years, from GPS navigation units to radar sensors and in-vehicle computer screens, the potential distractions have only increased. Keep in mind that it only takes one distraction and a few milliseconds for a diver to cause an accident. A Wilmington distracted driving accident lawyer at Ted A. Greve & Associates will have seen it all when it comes to distracted driving accidents.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car crash involving distracted driving, you might be feeling a mix of emotions. You could be angry at the driver who failed to pay attention, and all kinds of thoughts are running through your mind. You might even be worried that your injuries will stress you both physically and financially, and are anxious about the future. A Wilmington distracted driving accident lawyer at Ted A. Greve & Associates can help you find a successful resolution to your case, bringing immense relief to you and your family.
If this sounds familiar, don’t wait any longer. Get in touch with the auto accident lawyers in Wilmington at Ted A Greve & Associates today. We are an experienced legal team who will attend to your case with the dedication it deserves.
What is Distracted Driving?
According to the NHTSA (National Highways Traffic Safety Administration), distracted driving is any activity that takes away the attention of the driver from safe driving. Drivers can be distracted by things like fiddling with the radio, texting or talking on the phone, talking to other occupants of the vehicle, eating and drinking, or by other events in or outside the vehicle. Daydreaming or getting lost in thought while driving is also considered distracted driving.
To put it into perspective, if you’re traveling at 60 mph, it means you’re covering more than the length of a football field every 2 seconds. Taking two seconds to look down at your phone or do something else other than focusing on the road could result in a catastrophic accident, which could be deadly to you, your passengers, or other motorists.
It’s worth noting that in 2019, 154 people died as a result of distracted driving car accidents, based on data from the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
Types of Distracted Driving
There are a number of different ways in which you can become distracted while driving. As such, there are a number of ways to categorize them as follows:
Manual distractions usually occur when the driver is distracted by something that involves their hands. This means that they cannot control their vehicle fully. There are some common manual distractions that have caused accidents over the years, including:
- Personal grooming – combing hair, wearing makeup, putting on clothes, etc.
- Eating and/or drinking
- Adjusting the radio
- Taking a call
While manual distractions make the drivers take their hands off the wheel, visual distractions cause the driver to take their eyes off the road. There are times where the two distractions overlap, such as when texting and driving which means the driver is distracted both visually and manually. Good examples of visual distractions include:
- Looking at the mirror to check your appearance
- Reading any kind of content on your phone, including texts, emails, articles, etc.
- Focusing on a passenger in the vehicle to talk to them
- Looking at a video from the digital entertainment systems and cell phones
- Looking at a map
A cognitive distraction is one that occurs when the mind of the driver is off the road for an extended amount of time. These distractions usually don’t distract you visually or physically, but mentally. Some of the common cognitive distractions include:
- Focusing on a conversation or phone call with someone else
- Focusing on a stressful situation that’s unrelated to your drive
- Caring for or disciplining your child
Laws Regarding Distracted Driving in North Carolina
In North Carolina, it’s illegal:
- For persons under the age of 18 to use a mobile device while operating a motor vehicle and the vehicle is in motion. However, the law allows for these younger drivers to use a phone behind the wheel of a moving vehicle so long as they are talking to their parents, spouse, legal guardian, an emergency responder, or a hospital/doctor.
- To use a phone while operating a school bus (in motion or while stopped) apart from situations where you are communicating in an emergency situation.
- To use a phone to read or manually enter text messages while operating a motor vehicle in motion. Emergency responders and law enforcement are exempted while on duty
It’s clear that in North Carolina, anyone above the age of 18 years can talk on the phone while operating a private vehicle at any time. However, no driver, regardless of age, is allowed to send any form of text message while operating any form of a motor vehicle.
Adult drivers are legally allowed to use their phones while driving, with the only exception being that school bus drivers cannot use a cell phone or any other mobile device when driving the bus unless they are responding to an emergency situation.
The law on distracted driving also prohibits the use of mobile devices for drivers of certain commercial vehicles. The law is stricter than the federal prohibitions, and it applies to certain private vehicles and carriers too. People who receive multiple violations for distracted driving while operating a commercial vehicle risk losing their driving privileges.
What Damages Can Victims Get From A Distracted Driving Accident Claim in North Carolina?
North Carolina is a pure contributory negligence state, meaning fault in a distracted driving case will be based on negligence. Based on this statute, you are barred from recovering any damages in case you shared any fault in the accident. Still, the liable driver’s insurance policy would be responsible for covering the plaintiff’s damages.
You can file a claim against the driver at fault to pursue compensation for the damages you suffered. The following are the different kinds of compensation you may be eligible for after a distracted driving accident.
These are monetary damages that can be objectively and independently verified using evidence like estimates, receipts, records, and other statements. Economic damages include hospital and medical bills, loss of income, lost benefits, and property damage losses.
These encompass intangible losses like pain and suffering, PTSD, emotional and mental anguish, anxiety and depression, and loss of companionship or consortium. Since these don’t come with receipts or statements to quantify them, the court will do its best to decide how much the victim will be entitled to.
Under NC law, the victim can also sue for punitive damages. These aren’t meant to cover any losses, but to serve as punishment to the defendant for their grossly reckless actions. Extreme recklessness and intentionally causing harm usually warrant punitive damages.
Working with an experienced attorney can help you recover maximum damages after a crash. At our Wilmington, NC office, we have a team of experienced personal injury lawyers who can build a strong case on your behalf.
How Long do I Have to File a Claim in North Carolina?
You must file your car accident claim within three years from the date the accident occurred. This rule is covered under the North Carolina Statute of Limitations, which bars the victim from pursuing compensation for their case if they fail to meet the deadline.
If your case involves wrongful death, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim. Get in touch with us today to learn more about the deadlines in place and how they apply to your case.
Why do I Need a Lawyer?
The circumstances surrounding distracted driving cases are often complicated. It’s highly likely that the at-fault driver will not admit fault. And if any blame falls on you, you could be barred from recovering compensation.
An experienced lawyer will have the necessary experience and resources to thoroughly investigate your case and determine exactly what happened before the crash, and then build evidence to support your claim. They will be better placed at taking a deeper look into the driver’s cell phone records, statements and admissions, credit or debit card receipts, etc. close to the time the accident occurred, along with any available eyewitness statements and surveillance footage.
A lawyer will be able to skillfully handle any negotiations with the other party’s insurance company, making sure that you obtain the settlement you need to compensate for your losses.
Contact a Wilmington Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer Today
You have a good chance to fight for the compensation you deserve following a distracted driving accident. It’s vital to bring compelling evidence and a thoroughly researched case to obtain the maximum compensation to cover all the bills and expenses you are already facing. This is where Ted A. Greve & Associates is ready to assist!