Distracted Driver Lawsuits on the UpswingMarch 18, 2019
Distracted driving is claiming more and more lives, leading to an increase in the number of distracted driver lawsuits. Very recently, a wrongful death claim in North Carolina ended in a jury verdict of $4.5 million for the family of Gene Rotberg who was killed by a distracted driver as he rode his bicycle along a familiar route. It appears that Russell Rutledge, the driver, had made and received back-to-back calls on his drive from work to home, also reading and responding to emails and texts. After confiscating Rutledge’s phone, it was even determined that he texted while talking on the phone. As Rutledge approached Rotberg—who was properly riding his bicycle on the wide shoulder—he drifted to the right, onto the shoulder, hitting the bicycle squarely from behind. This verdict of this North Carolina jury appeared to send a clear message about distracted driving and its consequences.
In the state of Connecticut, a couple of years back, a woman was awarded $1.4 million after a driver—who was talking on his cell phone while making a turn—hit the woman head on, leaving her with permanent injuries to her back and neck. More recently, another Connecticut jury awarded a New Britain couple a $1.3 million settlement after the husband and wife were seriously injured in a car accident caused by the other driver’s distraction as he talked on his cell phone. Despite these large awards for distracted driving accidents, there seems to be little slowdown of auto accidents caused by distracted drivers.
Distracted Driving Increasing Across the Nation
There is little doubt in anyone’s mind that distracted driving is becoming more and more prevalent. Far too many auto accidents show no evidence of braking, no skid marks or a sudden stop in traffic—all strong indicators of texting, talking on a cell phone, or other distracted driving behaviors. According to a Middletown Press article, Connecticut is taking strong measures—apart from a ban on cell phone use for drivers—by having drivers state under oath in the early stages of a lawsuit whether they were using their phone. If cell phone records prove the driver was using a cell phone, the plaintiff is allowed to allege recklessness—a much more serious charge that can result in a revoked driver’s license.
Distracted Drivers Cause Deaths and Injuries
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2015 drivers using cellphones directly caused 476 traffic accident fatalities and 30,000 traffic accident serious injuries across the nation. Unfortunately, the data regarding distracted driving accidents is limited, as standard crash reports lacked a section for distracted driving as a cause of the accident until 2015. As high as the above numbers seem, it is extremely likely they are much higher. After all, there are few drivers who will admit that a distraction caused their accident, and, in many cases, it can be difficult to prove.
California Driver’s Ed Students Conduct “Non-Scientific” Study on Distracted Driving
The Journal Gazette details an admittedly “non-scientific” study in which California driver’s education students (the ones who were not driving at the time) counted drivers at intersections who were obviously distracted in some way. The students counted these distracted drivers for a total of five years, concluding that at least three out of every four drivers were not paying attention to the roadway or other drivers. Students say they saw a man playing a harmonica at an intersection, a woman reading a book, another applying makeup, a semi-driver talking on a cellphone—and veering into the student driver’s lane—and thousands of other instances of distracted driving.
Distracted Driving 100 Times Worse Than Previously Estimated
Following up on the student’s research, Zendrive’s Distracted Driving Snapshot found that more than 60 percent of drivers use their phones at least once while behind the wheel on an average day, and that the “reality of distracted driving is more than 100 times worse than a previous estimate.” Zendrive also found Mississippi drivers to be the worst offenders for using cell phones while driving, using their phones an average of 8 percent of the time while behind the wheel. The same study found that Vermont is the only state which has seen a reduction in driver cell phone use, Oregon remains the least distracted state, phone use occurs most often at the start of a trip and, unhappily, phone bans have little impact on actual cellphone use.
Helping Clients Who Have Suffered Injury from a Distracted Driving Accident
Despite the increasingly strict laws regarding distracted driving, it is clear distracted driving accidents continue to increase. Since distracted driving laws do not seem to be having much impact, perhaps distracted driving lawsuits will finally garner the attention they deserve. Clients injured in a distracted driving accident can find their ability to meet their expenses limited, however USClaims can help.
At USClaims, we offer pre-settlement funding, if a case is qualified for pre-settlement funding then we would purchase a portion of the proceeds of the anticipated court judgment or settlement for some cash now. USClaims only gets paid if a case is won or has reached a settlement! Apply now or call us today at 1-877-USCLAIMS to learn more.