Why You Need a Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer
The United States had nearly 276 million vehicles registered in 2020, compared to 193 million in 1990. Though sharing the road with countless cars, motorcycles, trucks and buses requires drivers’ undivided attention, the reality is that there is much to distract them from the driving task at hand. If you’ve sustained serious injuries from an accident caused by a distracted driver, you may be able to seek compensation for your losses. The attorneys at Cellino Law are here to help you navigate the complex legal system.
What Is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving occurs when a driver’s attention is on a task other than driving. These days, people most often associate distracted driving with texting. While using a device is undoubtedly a common activity that draws drivers’ focus away from the road, it isn’t the only one. There are three different types of distracted driving:
- Visual: These are activities that take your eyes off the road. Visual distractions can include texting, putting on makeup or shaving, staring at the passing scenery or looking at driving directions on your device.
- Manual: These activities take your hand off the steering wheel. Applying makeup or shaving can be classified as both visual and manual distractions. Eating and drinking are other common activities that fall into the manual category.
- Cognitive: Cognitive distraction diverts your mental attention from driving to another activity. Talking on your cell phone or to other passengers in the car are cognitive distractions. Listening to music, news, talk radio and audiobooks can also lead to mental distractions.
When a driver is distracted when an accident occurs, it’s considered a distraction-affected crash.
Distracted Driving Statistics
In 2019, an estimated 424,000 people sustained injuries in accidents that involved distracted drivers, while another 3,142 people lost their lives. In crashes that led to fatalities, 6% of the drivers responsible for those collisions were distracted when the accident occurred. Furthermore, 13% of those distracted drivers were using their cell phones.
Approximately 15% of all traffic accidents involve a distracted driver. Vehicle operators aged 25-34 were most likely to cause a distraction-affected crash, making up 21% of the drivers involved in fatal collisions. Those aged 35-44 had the second highest rates, with 16% of drivers involved.
What Laws Affected Distracted-Driving Accident Outcomes?
If you got hurt in an accident due to another driver’s distractions, New York State law affects how you proceed with pursuing compensation. The severity of your injuries and your role in the accident both impact what actions you can take and how much you may recover.
New York Auto Insurance Law
This state is a no-fault accident insurance state, requiring drivers to have no-fault personal injury protection. Regardless of who is liable for your accident, state law stipulates that you file a claim with your provider first.
Personal injury protection covers you and any passengers in your car if you or they sustain injuries in a traffic accident. New York requires insurers to provide their customers with:
- Coverage for necessary and reasonable medical expenses and rehabilitation costs related to your car collision injuries
- 80% of your lost wages, with a maximum of $2,000 per month, for up to three years
- Up to $25 daily for related expenses such as transportation to medical appointments and household help
If your injuries are serious, your PIP coverage may not be sufficient to recover all your losses.
Your insurance company may also fight you on what it considers “necessary and reasonable” medical expenses and rehabilitation costs. You may need a lawyer to help you pursue just compensation from your insurance company.
New York State insurance law also stipulates instances that render drivers ineligible for recovering damages from their PIP insurance. These exclusions include:
- Intoxicated or drug-impaired driving, except for emergency medical treatment at a hospital or from paramedics
- Drivers causing their own injuries intentionally
- Riding a motorcycle or all-terrain vehicle, including both drivers and passengers
- Drivers injured while committing a felony
Any driver injured in a distracted-associated collision may not collect a settlement if they fall under any of the above exclusions. It may be beneficial to consult an attorney to find out your options if your insurance company attempts to deny your claim based on PIP exceptions.
Serious Injury Threshold
Distracted-driving accidents can result in serious injuries, with long-term repercussions for your physical, emotional and financial health. They can also have a lasting negative impact on your quality of life. The overall effect leads to economic and non-economic damages not covered under PIP insurance.
You may be able to recoup these types of losses if you meet the state’s legal threshold for a severe injury. A Cellino Law personal injury attorney can help determine if your injuries qualify. The state considers serious injuries as those that meet one of the following criteria:
- Bone fracture
- Permanent limitations in the use of a body part or organ
- Significant limitations in the use of a body system or function
- Medically diagnosed injuries or impairments that result in a loss of regular, daily activities for 90 days or more over the 180 days following the crash
- Significant disfigurement
- Loss of a fetus
When your injuries fit within one or more of the above classifications, you can file a legal claim to recover damages.
If you meet the state’s criteria for serious injury, you have the option of filing a legal claim. A lawsuit may allow you to recover additional losses you won’t get from your insurance. Economic losses include those you incur if your injuries prevent you from returning to the type of work you did before your accident or advancing to higher-paying jobs in the future.
Additionally, you may receive compensation for non-economic costs. These losses include pain and suffering, loss of quality of life and emotional trauma. An attorney experienced in distracted driving legal claims provides the insight you need on the types of non-economic compensation you can reasonably seek and what monetary amount to assign for each.
New York Personal Injury Law
If your case is suitable for a lawsuit, New York’s personal injury law influences the outcome. The state operates under a pure comparative fault rule. Unlike states with modified comparative fault laws that prevent you from collecting any damages if you are more than 50% at fault, pure comparative fault allows you to collect awarded damages even if you are 99% liable.
With pure comparative fault, the court reduces your compensation by the percentage of the responsibility it assigns to you. Thus, if the court finds you 45% liable for the distracted-affected driving accident that caused your injuries, you receive 55% of the total awarded damages.
New York Statute of Limitations
Aside from settling with the insurance company before speaking to a lawyer, people’s other biggest mistake is waiting too long to file a legal claim. In New York, the statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit is three years from the accident’s date. Once that deadline passes, you have no legal recourse for collecting just compensation.
Who Can Help You With Your New York Distracted Driving Claim?
The attorneys at Cellino Law Firm can guide you through your options and help you through every step of the process. We’re here for you whether you need us to negotiate with your insurance company or fight for you in a legal claim. We don’t charge any upfront fees and only ask for payment if we win your case. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.