As you are driving along one of the many highways in Long Island, you notice a vehicle driving erratically. The car may be drifting in the lane with erratic speeding or slowing. Eventually, you see the reason: the driver is texting behind the wheel.
Unfortunately, situations like this are a daily occurrence. The problem of distracted driving is all too common around the country and is increasingly seen in Long Island. Distracted driving accidents often result in serious injuries.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Long Island distracted driving accident, you are likely under a large amount of stress and financial strain. However, you are not alone. Be assured that you may be able to recover compensation for your losses.
Cellino Law has been making a difference in New Yorkers’ lives for over 60 years. Our team of highly experienced legal professionals can help you and your family get justice after a Long Island accident. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a distracted driving accident lawyer at our firm. We can arrange to meet you at your convenience.
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What Counts as Distracted Driving?
Driving is a complex activity, with a number of potential distractions and hazards. In order to stay safe, a driver needs to monitor factors such as:
- Current speed and speed limits
- Following distance
- Exits that are coming up
- Directions to follow
- Cars that are merging
- Vehicles coming up from behind
- Pedestrians and cyclists
- Unexpected events, like an accident
Distracted driving includes any type of activity that distracts a driver from the road. These generally fall under three categories: manual, visual, and cognitive.
Manual distractions take one or both hands off the wheel and can include:
- Adjusting music
- Eating or drinking
- Reaching for something
Visual distractions take your eyes off the road. They can include:
- Looking at the GPS
- Talking with passengers
- Watching something outside
Cognitive distractions take your mind off the task at hand and can include:
- Talking on a mobile phone
- Getting lost in thought
- Becoming focused on music
Even a seemingly minor distraction can have far-reaching consequences.
Why is Distracted Driving So Dangerous?
One factor that makes distracted driving dangerous is the fact that a distracted driver rarely brakes or tries to avoid the crash. Since a driver’s eyes are off the road, he or she often doesn’t see a hazard in time to react. This can result in a full-speed crash, increasing the chances of severe injuries and property damage.
Especially when traveling at high speeds, any amount of distraction behind the wheel can prove fatal. For example, taking your eyes off the road for 5 seconds may not seem like much, but when traveling at 55 miles per hour, it is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.
These distracted driving statistics from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and New York State Traffic Safety are a sobering reminder of the dangers of distracted driving in the country:
- Distracted driving killed 3,142 people in 2019
- Looking away for 2 or more seconds doubles the risk of a crash or near-crash
- Fatal crashes involving distracted driving increased by 9.9 percent from 2018 to 2019
The dramatic increase in fatal distracted driving accidents is in stark contrast to the 2 percent decrease in all nationwide motor vehicle fatalities over the same time period. Clearly, distracted driving continues to be a major concern on our roads.
How Can a Car Accident Lawyer Prove Distracted Driving?
When a car accident lawyer at Cellino Law takes on your case, he or she will thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the accident. Our law firm has the resources and connections to pull records and consult expert witnesses as needed.
Phone records and witness testimony can be instrumental in proving driver negligence. For example, were electronic messages sent or web pages visited in the moments on the driver’s device leading up to the crash?
Your lawyer can dig deep to uncover evidence of negligence. At Cellino Law, our lawyers understand the importance of using knowledgeable professionals. In addition to examining the official accident report, our team can consult an expert to reconstruct the events leading up to the collision.
What Are the Laws Against Distracted Driving in Long Island?
New York has a long history of recognizing the dangers of distracted driving. In fact, back in 2001, NY was the first state to implement a hand-held cell phone use ban while driving.
According to State law, it is illegal to use a hand-held electronic device like a cell phone when driving in Long Island. This broad definition includes not only texting and talking on the phone, but also using email, browsing a website, playing games, and the like.
Distracted driver penalties
In 2014, the penalties for distracted drivers were increased in New York:
- First offense: $50 to $200 fine and 5 driver violation points
- Second offense within 18 months: $50 to $250 fine and 5 driver violation points
- Third offense within 18 months: $50 to $450 fine and 5 driver violation points
For probationary and junior drivers holding a Class DJ or MJ license or learner permit, the penalties are more strict:
- First offense: 120-day license suspension
- Second offense (within 6 months): Minimum 1-year license suspension
Despite the current penalties for distracted driving, it continues to plague New York roads. Preliminary data from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee showed a 918 percent increase in tickets for texting while driving across the state.
Compensation Available After a Long Island Distracted Driving Accident
The effects of a personal injury can affect every aspect of your life. Thankfully, the law enables personal injury victims to be compensated for their losses. When you work with an experienced personal injury lawyer, you have someone on your side who can uphold your legal right to receive maximum compensation.
Medical bills can quickly pile up after an accident. Even for those who have health coverage, copays and deductibles can be high. This is especially true when there are substantial injuries that require extensive treatment.
Your distracted driving accident lawyer can fight for you to receive full compensation for your medical expenses, including:
- Physical therapy
- Home modifications
Insurance companies are known for refusing claims or offering very low initial settlements. In many cases, the insurance company hopes to pressure the victim into accepting a settlement before realizing the full extent of his or her injuries.
For example, after one of our clients, a 50-year-old CNA, was injured in a car accident, the insurance company offered $10,000 to settle before trial. In the end, our firm was able to secure a $1,000,000 settlement in her case.
Pain and suffering
Of course, after a personal injury, you suffer more than just financial losses. These non-economic damages (such as pain and suffering) are just as real, even though these are harder to calculate than economic damages.
Fair compensation after a motor vehicle accident should include your psychological and emotional damages. Your lawyer will listen to your story to understand the impact your personal injury has had on your life and fight for these damages to be recognized and compensated.
In many cases, after suffering a major personal injury, there are household tasks that become difficult or impossible.
As part of your settlement, your car accident lawyer can recover compensation for replacement services, including:
- Household cleaning
- Yard maintenance
- Snow shoveling
Such replacement services may be covered for a short period of time during your recovery, or perhaps you will require them long-term for your permanent limitations.
Nearly all car accident injury victims miss work while they recover. If you were injured by a distracted driver, you deserve financial compensation for your lost wages. This includes the wages lost while you were unable to work at all, as well as for the time your ability to work was limited.
Your injuries may be severe enough that they permanently affect your ability to work at all or restrict you from continuing to advance on the job. Your lawyer can also work to secure compensation for your future earning capacity as part of your settlement.
Unfortunately, many distracted driving accidents result in a fatality. In this case, a wrongful death claim can be made against the negligent party. Generally, a claim must be filed within 2 years of the death. If there is a pending criminal case, the time limit is 1 year from the end of the criminal case.
If a family member died because of a distracted driver, you may be able to recover compensation such as:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of intimacy
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of financial support
A free consultation with our team can help you understand your legal options based on the specifics of your case.
Choose the Trusted Team at Cellino Law
If you have been injured by a distracted driver, you need the help of a Long Island distracted driving accident lawyer at Cellino Law. There’s good reason our award-winning lawyers have been trusted by New Yorkers for over 60 years.
When you choose Cellino Law, you and your family can benefit from our:
- Proven results
- Vast resources
- Extensive experience
- Enduring determination
Our attorneys are ready and willing to come to you when you need us. Contact our Melville, Long Island, team today at (800) 555-5555 to schedule your free consultation.