Despite numerous measures being put in place, distracted driving continues to plague our nation’s roads. It is currently the leading cause of traffic accidents in the United States, surpassing drunk driving, speeding, and other major causes of accidents. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 1000 people are injured, while 9 people lose their lives each day in crashes involving a distracted driver. These are figures that one can’t simply ignore, especially when lives are being lost on a daily basis.
In the unfortunate event that you are injured in an accident involving a negligent driver, it is imperative that you get in touch with an experienced Atlanta distracted driving accident lawyer. Having a professional attorney on your side helps to ensure that your rights are protected and significantly increases your chances of securing fair and maximum compensation.
Here at Bethune Law Firm, we are proud to have a team of highly-skilled and seasoned car accident attorneys who are fully prepared to fight aggressively to get you all the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 1-800-INJURED to schedule your free consultation.
What is Distracted Driving?
Georgia State Law defines distracted driving as engaging in any activity while driving that potentially distracts you from safely operating your vehicle. While distracted driving is often associated with texting and cell phone use, it also includes other distracting behaviors such as checking the radio, grooming, engaging with other passengers, drinking and eating, and so on.
Georgia Distracted Driving Statistics
A driver who fails to pay attention to the road not only puts his life at risk, but he also risks the lives of those around him. A distracted driver is more likely to miss important road signs or signals, which can have fatal consequences. Drivers who have disregarded a stop sign or a red light cause 50 fatal distracted driving accidents each year in Georgia, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health data. Drivers who choose to engage in distracting behavior behind the wheel can face civil liability for their actions.
Types of Distracted Driving
In today’s digital world, we are becoming more and more bombarded with electronics and new technologies. The number of ways in which a driver can become distracted has increased tenfold. Apart from cell phones, a driver can easily become sidetracked by things like in-car radios, navigation systems, entertainment systems, and so on.
The CDC classifies distractions into three types:
- Visual: These are distractions that cause your eyes to wander off the road, for example, looking at billboards.
- Manual: These are distractions that cause you to take your hands off the wheel, for example, scuffling to find something that has fallen.
- Cognitive: These are distractions that take your mind and attention off the process of driving, for example, driving while fatigued.
Laws Regarding Distracted Driving in Georgia
Georgia is one of the states leading in the fight against distracted driving. The signing of the Hands-Free Georgia Act into law in 2018 saw numerous revisions being made to the Georgia motor vehicle code in an attempt to curb all driver distractions, both human and technological. Previously, the state had only implemented limited statutory protections against distracted driving. This saw the ban on writing, sending, and reading text messages while driving. The state also banned the use of any wireless device by drivers under the age of 18.
The Hands-Free Georgia Act treats the epidemic that is distracted driving as a broad-based issue rather than just an offense that involves texting-and-driving.
The Hands-Free Georgia Act
Drivers are barred from performing any action that can distract them from the safe operation of a vehicle. Regardless of what the action is, doing anything that distracts you from the process of driving is illegal.
Drivers are prohibited from holding or physically supporting any stand-alone or wireless electronic device, with exceptions provided for earpieces, headphones, and wrist-worn devices for voice communication purposes.
Drivers are prohibited from writing, reading, and sending all kinds of text-based communication from a device. This includes text messages, emails, instant messages, internet data, and so on. However, there are exceptions for voice-to-text communication and GPS use for navigation.
Drivers are prohibited from recording, watching, or broadcasting a video or movie on a stand-alone electronic device or a wireless device. However, there are exceptions for continuous recording devices focused on the exterior of the vehicle, dash-cams, and also for watching data relating to vehicle navigation.
Various restrictions have been applied to drivers’ physical interactions with electronic devices. These include:
- A driver should press no more than one button to initiate or terminate a voice communication
- A driver should not reach for a device if, in this act, they have to take off their seatbelt or leave a seated driving position.
If you are found in violation of any of these violations, you can be charged with a misdemeanor that carries a $50 fine for the first offense, a $100 fine for the second offense, and a $150 fine for subsequent offenses.
What Damages Can You Get From A Distracted Driving Accident Claim in Georgia?
Distracted driving accidents can cause devastating injuries that can have a significant impact on the victims’ lives. If you have been injured in an accident involving a distracted driver, you may be entitled to certain damages. The nature and severity of your accidents will greatly determine the types and amounts of damages you should be awarded. There are three types of damages:
- Economic damages: These are damages that result in financial losses such as lost wages, medical expenses, and so on.
- Non-economic damages: These are intangible losses that can’t be assigned a monetary value, including pain and suffering, emotional distress, and so on.
- Punitive damages: These types of damages are rarely awarded in personal injury cases. They are meant to punish the culpable party for acting in an excessively reckless or deliberate manner.
How to Prove a Distracted Driving Claim in Atlanta
Georgia law gives those injured by a distracted driver the right to file a lawsuit. Most of the time, plaintiffs allege negligence on the part of the defendant. To win, the plaintiff must prove:
- The distracted driver, the defendant in the case, owed a duty to the plaintiff;
- The distracted driver breached the duty; and
- The plaintiff’s injuries were proximately caused by the distracted driver’s actions.
Every person who gets behind the wheel in Georgia owes a duty to other people to drive reasonably given the circumstances. A driver who unsafely plays with the radio, sends a text message, or is otherwise distracted has breached this duty. If one of these distractions leads the driver to cause an accident that injures another person, the distracted driver will be liable for those injuries.
In Georgia, plaintiffs have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. Although it may sound like a long time, a person injured in a car accident should contact an attorney as soon as practicable after the accident to ensure that the necessary evidence is preserved. Failing to file by the deadline could result in the case being permanently dismissed.
How Long do I Have to File a Claim in Georgia?
Georgia statutes of limitation for car accidents, including those involving distracted driving, is two-years. This means that you have a two-year window starting from the date of the accident to initiate legal proceedings against the at-fault party.
Why do I Need a Lawyer?
If you have been injured in an accident involving a distracted driver, it is in your best interest that you get an experienced attorney. Proving that the other driver was distracted at the time of the accident can be particularly challenging, especially if you don’t know where to start and are dealing with injuries. An experienced, distracted driving accident lawyer will conduct a proper and thorough investigation and gather as much evidence as possible to prove your case.
They will also handle all negotiations with the insurance company to ensure that you are not taken advantage of. If need be, they will take your case to trial and present your case before a judge or jury. Your attorney will fight aggressively to ensure that you are fairly compensated.
Get in Touch With an Atlanta Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer
It is the duty of every driver to exercise safe driving and avoid any behavior that can put the lives of others at risk. One key aspect of safe driving is keeping full attention on the road and your driving. When a driver engages in any activity that distracts them from their driving, they endanger their safety and that of others.
If a distracted driver has caused your accident, they need to be held accountable. Our professional team at Bethune Law Firm is prepared to get you the justice you deserve. Don’t hesitate to contact our personal injury lawyers at 1-800-INJURED to schedule your free consultation.