There were 1,596 motor vehicle collisions in Manhattan in June 2022. These accidents injured 718 people and killed one. The New York Police Department attributed 553 of the almost 1,600 crashes to driver inattention and distractions.
The laws in New York that govern financial responsibility in car accidents are difficult for most people to understand, and receiving favorable compensation amounts from insurance companies is often challenging. Fortunately, the attorneys at Cellino Law can help you overcome both issues.
What Is Distracted Driving?
To safely operate a motor vehicle, drivers must focus on the road and traffic conditions so they can make directional or speed adjustments if necessary. Anything that takes attention away from those things is a distraction. Some of the most common forms of distracted driving are:
- Using a cell phone
- Interacting with passengers or pets
- Fixing hair or putting on makeup
- Adjusting car systems
- Looking or reaching for an object in the car
- Listening to music at high volumes or by using earbuds or headphones
- Eating, drinking, and smoking
As you can see, these distractions fall into several categories: auditory, cognitive, manual, and visual. Some of these activities are in multiple categories, adding additional risk.
Why Is Distracted Driving So Dangerous?
Distracted driving is a major cause of car collisions. To understand why it’s so dangerous, you need to learn about driving response times, braking distances, vehicle stopping distances, and what they mean to safety.
Driver Response Times
Suppose you’re paying attention to traffic and see brake lights ahead of you. You’ll follow these steps to avoid hitting that car:
- Process the lights and what they mean: the vehicle is braking.
- Realize you might need to take action, such as changing lanes or applying your brakes.
- Decide what you’ll do.
- Begin to steer in a different direction and move your foot from the gas pedal (or floorboard if you’re using cruise control), place it on the brake pedal, and start pushing down.
The time it takes for you to complete these steps is your reaction time. Remember that your car won’t begin to change course or speed until you’ve finished.
You’re right if you think those things don’t take long. However, your car is traveling at your original speed and direction during the process, and the distance you can cover in one second might surprise you:
- 30 mph = 44 feet/ second
- 50 mph = 73 feet/ second
- 60 mph = 88 feet/ second
- 70 mph = 103 feet/ second
The average driver’s reaction time is 2.5 seconds. If their speed is 70 miles per hour, their vehicle travels a little more than a football field’s distance in that time.
Several factors can affect how far a vehicle travels once the driver applies brakes:
- The vehicle’s weight
- Road conditions (wet, icy, rough, flat, steep)
- Your original speed
- The car’s braking performance (sluggish, prompt)
- The amount of pressure the driver uses
Assuming that a car in good condition is on dry pavement, the following shows the distance the vehicle travels before stopping once the driver brakes:
- 30 mph = 45 feet
- 50 mph = 125 feet
- 60 mph = 180 feet
- 70 mph = 245 feet
Vehicle Stopping Distance
The distance an automobile travels from when the driver begins to process those brake lights until it comes to a complete stop combines those distances. Allowing only one second of driver reaction time (which is below average), a car going at 70 mph needs 348 feet to stop.
Drivers who are looking at their phones or are otherwise distracted likely won’t notice those brake lights as soon as those who pay attention. People may blow their horns, but you won’t hear them if your music is too loud. Distracted drivers can lose seconds, and it’s often too late to avoid a collision once they realize they should take action.
Is Distracted Driving Considered Negligent Behavior?
Personal injury claims after car accidents caused by distracted driving revolve around negligence. Everyone who operates a motor vehicle has a duty of care to drive safely to reduce the risk of harming themselves or others. Driving while distracted definitely isn’t driving safely.
Let’s say that Joe was texting while driving and caused an accident that produced injuries. To prove negligence, you must show that:
- Joe had a duty of care (driving safely)
- Joe breached that duty of care (texting while driving)
- You sustained injuries in an accident
- Joe’s failure to uphold his duty of care (texting while driving) caused the accident and your injuries
In New York, however, Joe’s negligence doesn’t always mean you can recover damages from him. Ask your distracted driving car accident attorney from Cellino Law about your options.
What Are New York’s Laws Governing Car Accidents?
Several New York laws and regulations determine how much compensation you can receive if a car crash injures you and who must pay.
New York is a no-fault state, meaning that the law requires drivers to carry at least $50,000 of personal injury protection insurance. Suppose you sustain injuries in an auto accident. In that case, your PIP coverage pays your medical bills, lost wages, and certain other daily expenses directly related to your injury, up to your policy limit. If your insurance is enough to cover your economic losses, you can’t file a personal injury lawsuit in most cases.
There are some exceptions to that rule. If your injury satisfies New York’s severe injury threshold, you can seek compensation from the driver who caused your accident:
- 90 days of total disability
- Bodily function limitations
- Bone fractures or dislocations
- Eminent disfigurement
- Permanent injuries to your limbs
If the expenses caused by your injury total over $50,000 or your injury is classified as severe, you can seek additional damages in a personal injury claim. Call Cellino Law to see if you’re eligible and to find out how much you might receive.
Pure Comparative Fault
At times, more than one person contributes to causing a car accident. New York uses pure comparative fault, meaning you can seek compensation even if you possess a 99% degree of fault. However, your percentage of responsibility directly affects how much you can recover.
If you are 25% at fault, you can only recover 75% of the total damages. The law reduces your compensation by your fault percentage. Because of this, many people hire an experienced personal injury lawyer who knows how to prove their clients were only minimally responsible for the car crash.
Statute of Limitations
You have three years to file a personal injury claim in most instances. This may change due to the circumstances in your case, so don’t wait to contact Cellino Law to be sure you don’t miss the deadline for filing.
Why Choose Cellino Law?
Cellino Law firms have represented injured New Yorkers since 1958. We focus on personal injury law, so we thoroughly understand the laws, types of evidence required, and how to successfully negotiate maximum settlement offers for our clients. We’ll also take your case to court if necessary.
Let us put our extensive experience and resources to work for you. We’ll come to you if you are seriously injured, and you won’t pay us any fees unless we win money for you. Contact us 24/7 for your free case review.