Distracted drivers are a constant source of danger on the roads around Anchorage and throughout Alaska. From tourists attempting to follow GPS directions to local drivers talking on the phone and texting behind the wheel, distracted drivers are everywhere, and they are hazards to themselves and everyone else on the road.
Distracted driving has become an enormous problem in recent years. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are hundreds of thousands of distracted driving accidents in the United States each year; and, every day, an average of 9 or 10 people die in accidents caused by distracted drivers. All of these accidents are avoidable, and drivers who choose to drive distracted can – and should – be held responsible.
The Dangers of Distracted Driving
Due to the inherent dangers of driving while distracted, drivers who give into distractions behind the wheel can be held liable on grounds of negligence. The law of negligence governs most types of personal injury claims in Alaska, including claims for car accident injuries. Distracted driving is negligent because it interferes with the driver's ability to identify and react to potentially dangerous situations on the road. As explained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), driving distractions can cause three separate forms of impairment:
- Visual: Drivers who are reading text messages, dialing phone numbers, looking at GPS maps, and scrolling social media are looking at their devices instead of observing their surroundings.
- Manual: Handheld cellphone use and other distractions such as eating, drinking, smoking, and personal grooming take drivers' hands off of the wheel.
- Cognitive: When drivers are thinking about their phone conversations or how to respond to text messages, they are not devoting their full attention to the task of driving.
Studies have shown that distracted drivers will often experience impairment levels similar to drivers who are legally intoxicated. At highway speeds, in the time it takes to read an average text message, a driver can travel the length of an entire football field without looking at the road. If a driver is engaged in an ongoing texting conversation, he or she can easily travel a total of a half-mile, a mile, or even farther while visually, manually, and cognitively impaired.
Proving that the Driver Who Hit You Was Distracted
So, you were injured in a car accident in Alaska, and you suspect that the driver who hit you was distracted at the time of the crash. How do you prove it so that you can recover just compensation for your injury-related losses?
1. The Driver's Own Statements in Person and Online
In many cases, the best source of evidence that a driver was distracted will be the driver's own statements made in person or online. Most people know that driving distracted is a bad idea, and some will apologize profusely for causing an accident while talking, texting, or engaging in other distracting activities behind the wheel. If the driver admitted to you (or, better yet, the police) that he or she was distracted, you may be able to use the driver's own statements to establish liability.
Additionally, in today's world, it is often possible to find evidence of liability online. If the driver was posting on social media at the time of the crash, the time stamp on his or her post may be enough to prove your claim for compensation. If the driver posted about the accident after the fact, you may be able to use his or her online statements to prove that you are entitled to compensation as well.
2. Phone Records
If necessary, it may be possible to subpoena the driver's phone records in order to prove that he or she was on a call or engaged in a texting conversation at the time of the crash. Requesting a subpoena may also convince the driver to admit that he or she was distracted behind the wheel.
3. Witness Testimony
If you saw the other driver holding his or her phone or looking down instead of looking at the road, there is a good chance that someone else saw it, too. Eyewitness testimony verifying what you saw can serve as strong evidence in your claim for financial compensation.
4. Physical Evidence from the Crash Site
By analyzing skid marks, the location, and extent of damage to each vehicle, damage to guard rails and signposts, weather and road conditions, and other physical evidence from the crash site, it may be possible to piece together the precise events leading up to the accident. Evidence of delayed or sudden braking can help build a case for the other driver being distracted; and, even if this evidence does not conclusively establish distracted driving as a factor, it may still prove that the other driver negligently caused the collision.
5. A Video Recording of the Accident
If your accident was captured by a traffic camera, security camera, dashcam, or cell phone, this video recording could conclusively establish the other driver's liability. However, the challenge here may be obtaining a copy of the recording before it gets erased. Traffic cameras and security cameras are often set up to record over previous recordings relatively quickly; and, while it may be possible to get a copy of a recording just by asking for it, oftentimes it will be necessary to request the recording through formal legal means.
Recovering Just Compensation After a Distracted Driving Accident
The losses resulting from distracted driving accidents can be substantial. In addition to current and future medical bills, accident victims will often experience a significant loss of income, chronic pain, and other financial and non-financial losses. For more information on the types of compensation, you may be entitled to recover you can read: What Types of Compensation Can I Recover After an Accident in Alaska?
Discuss Your Distracted Driving Accident Claim in Confidence
If you were injured in a car accident that you believe was the fault of a distracted driver, I encourage you to contact me immediately to discuss your case. For a free, no-obligation consultation about your legal rights, call 907-262-9164 today.