It is no secret that distracted driving is dangerous and can lead to tragic results. In Massachusetts and across the nation, there are several thousand traffic deaths attributed to distracted driving each year, many from unsafe use of smartphones. Other types of distracted driving that have led to deaths include grooming, eating, reading, talking to passengers, or using the radio or entertainment system in the vehicle.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 3142 people died in 2020 from distracted driving. This includes the tragic statistic of 11 teens dying each day from texting and driving. So far in early 2022, out of approximately 65,000 car crashes in Massachusetts, nearly 2,400 involved a driver who was talking on or otherwise using a cellphone or engaged in some other activity that was not focused on driving. Last year, out of 226,973 crashes, there were 9,498 collisions in which a driver was distracted with 2,283 reported to have been using a smartphone at the time.
Texting and Driving Statistics
According to the NHTSA, around 7% or over 660,000 drivers are using their cellphones or other electronic devices on any given day. Safety experts say that unsafely using a smartphone, which can include using it with your hands, texting, or reading messages, which is illegal in most if not all states except under certain circumstances, is equivalent to a person having had 4 beers. Like impaired driving, distracted driving substantially reduces perception/reaction time.
Massachusetts Law on Cellphone Use
For all Massachusetts drivers under the age of 18, no cellphone use at all is permitted. Drivers who violate this law can lose their driving privileges for 60-days for a first offense.
For drivers over 18, the following applies:
- Can only use hands-free devices
- May not touch a phone except to put it in hands-free mode when device is installed or mounted on the dashboard, windshield, or center console that does not impede safe driving
- May not touch phone to text, send or use email or view videos or for internet use
- GPS use permitted only if device is properly mounted and hands-free
- Talk on a phone only permitted if device is properly mounted with one earplug permitted
- Hand-use permitted only if vehicle is at a stop and not in a public travel or bike lane and not at a red light or stop sign
- May call 911 once you safely pull off the road and stop
Steps to Follow if Injured by Distracted Driving
If you were injured in a car accident in Massachusetts and suspect that a driver was driving distracted, immediately contact an experienced car accident attorney. At the scene of the accident, there are things you can do to properly preserve your claim for compensation:
- If possible, exchange driver’s license, registration, and insurance information
- Take photos of the scene, property damage to all vehicles, and other parties involved
- Do not discuss fault or how the accident occurred with the other motorist
- Call 911
- Wait for police and give your account to the officer, mentioning if you saw the driver using a cellphone before the collision
- If there were witnesses, obtain their contact information
- Do not refuse medical attention or say that you will seek attention on your own
- Do not speak about the accident with insurance investigators or anyone else until you talk to and retain a Massachusetts car accident attorney
To have a valid claim for compensation for your injuries, you have to prove the other driver was negligent. Such conduct includes speeding, running a red traffic signal or stop sign, making an unsafe turn or lane change, or distracted driving such as talking or texting on a cellphone, resulting in the collision.
Police can question the other driver and may get a confession from the driver that he was using a cellphone. A witness may have seen the driver looking down just moments before the crash. At the scene, an officer can examine the phone to see if a text or a call had been made immediately before the collision. Sometimes, however, the injured person or his/her family is too concerned with their loved one and the police overlook important information about the distraction. Sometimes a car accident attorney can subpoena the defendant driver’s phone records to see if the phone was being used at that time.
While any use of a cellphone is not necessarily determinative of liability, a car accident attorney can look to other factors such as eyewitness testimony, extent and location of property damage, weather, vehicle condition, skid marks, and inconsistencies in the defendant’s or passenger’s account of the accident. In some cases, there is surveillance footage from adjoining businesses that may have captured the accident on video.
Damages in Car Accident Injury Claims
Compensation in a car accident injury claim depends on a variety of factors including issues of liability, the nature and extent of injuries, and documentary evidence of lost earnings and other economic losses
Damages in typical cases may include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future income loss
- Pain and suffering
- Lost income capacity
- Diminished quality of life
- Emotional distress
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
Only an experienced car accident attorney can adequately and fully demonstrate your damages.
Retain the Law Office of Burns and Jain
Have a car accident attorney from Burns and Jain represent you at the outset so that you can obtain what you deserve. Call our office at (617) 227-7423 for a free and comprehensive evaluation of your injury claim.