Despite all the public awareness campaigns to warn people of the dangers of distracted driving, many individuals continue to engage in activities that allow their minds to drift away from vehicle operation and take their eyes off the road.
Unfortunately, you and your family could pay the price of this inattention and suffer catastrophic injuries or death if a distracted driver causes your accident.
Let our skilled and dedicated car accident attorney take the steps you need to take to hold the negligent motorist and his insurance company responsible for compensating you for your injuries.
What Is Distracted Driving?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines distracted driving as "any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system—anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving."
NHTSA statistics from 2017 state that 10 percent of all fatal crashes in the U.S. during the previous six years involved distracted drivers, and teens continue to be at risk—eight percent of young people 15–19 "killed in teen crashes died as a result of distracted driving."
Dangerous ways that motorists are distracted include:
- Reading a GPS
- Checking social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, or reading other posts on the internet
- Taking selfies
- Talking on a cellphone
- Listening to music
- Eating and drinking
- Paying attention to kids
- Attending to pets
- Engaging in conversations with passengers
- Smoking or vaping
- Engaging in personal grooming
- Daydreaming and looking at nearby surroundings
- Reaching for something in the car
And as helpful as technology is, it can also be a huge distraction. Studies show that hands-free voice commands, which are supposed to benefit us by keeping our hands on the wheel, are actually a dangerous distraction. The main reason is the systems still require our cognitive attention, which takes away from the task of driving. For example, it's easy to lose focus when you have to argue with the voice-command system about who you're trying to call.
Why Distracted Driving Is So Dangerous
Most people don't realize how long distracting behaviors, like using cellphones, changing a music channel, or reading a text, can take. But it can take almost five seconds to read or respond to a text, and up to nearly 30 seconds for other actions not related to driving.
If someone is traveling at 60 mph, he could travel the distance of a football field without paying attention to his driving. In this short time period, the motorist in front could slam on his brakes, a pedestrian could dart into the road, or another driver could cause a collision up ahead. Unfortunately, a distracted driver won't realize what is happening before it's too late to respond.
Missouri and Kansas Laws on Cellphone Use While Driving
The laws governing the use of cellphones while behind the wheel are different in Kansas and Missouri. Here are the rules in each state:
- In Missouri, drivers of any age are permitted to use hand-held cellphones. However, those under 21 are prohibited from texting while driving.
- Drivers in Kansas are also permitted to use hand-held cellphones for talking while driving. However, texting while driving is illegal for all motorists.
The Governors Highway Safety Association keeps tabs on distracted driving laws updates in every state, so you should review the site regularly for new information.
Although it may be legal to use a cellphone, a driver can still be held liable to compensate victims if his use of the cellphone caused a collision.
Injuries You Could Suffer in a Distracted Driving Accident
Because a distracted driver is often unaware of the danger he'll cause until it's too late to take defensive actions, victims can suffer long-term injuries that require expensive medical treatments and months or longer off work while they recover. Sometimes, a full recovery simply isn't possible. Common injuries caused in these preventable collisions include:
- Back and shoulder injuries
- Broken bones
- Knee injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Facial, dental, and eye injuries
- Brain and head injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
Steps to Protect Your Legal Rights After a Distracted Driving Collision
If a distracted driver causes your accident, you need to take immediate action to protect your health and injury compensation claim. Here are eight crucial steps that help you win your case:
- Obtain prompt medical care, even if you don't believe you were hurt or that your injuries are minor.
- Call the police at the crash scene and secure a copy of the police report.
- Obtain the contact information for the other driver and any witnesses to your crash.
- Take photos of the damage to the vehicles, the accident scene, and your injuries.
- Don't talk to the insurance adjuster without the assistance of an experienced car accident attorney.
- Avoid claim mistakes, such as agreeing to give a recorded statement, which could weaken your case.
- File your lawsuit before the deadline—referred to as the statute of limitations—expires.
- Partner with a lawyer who handles auto collision claims as soon as possible after your accident.
Why Pursuing Your Distracted Driving Claim Is Important
If you or a family member was hurt in a distracted driving accident, you have the right to hold the negligent driver responsible for his actions and receive a financial recovery. In both Kansas and Missouri, you may be entitled to these damages:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Property damage
- Wrongful death damages if a loved one died
Were You Injured In a Kansas City Area Car Accident?
If you were injured in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.