Many distractions can hinder a person’s driving. We see countless motorists talking on the phone, reading or sending text messages, eating, or otherwise not paying attention to the road while driving. Distracted driving puts other drivers, their passengers, and pedestrians at risk.
Each day, distracted driving is responsible for eight deaths and nearly 1,100 injuries across the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many of those killed and injured in distracted driving accidents are pedestrians. When a pedestrian gets hit by a driver who is not paying attention to the road, the injured pedestrian may be entitled to compensation for their damages and losses, including mounting medical bills.
Consider contacting a Chicago pedestrian accident lawyer if a distracted driver injured you or someone you love while you crossed the street or walked along the road. A lawyer can review your case and provide the legal counsel you need to obtain fair financial compensation.
Table of Contents
- The Dangers of Distracted Driving in Pedestrian Accidents
- Three Types of Distracted Driving
- Pedestrian Accident Injuries Caused by Distracted Drivers
- How Do Pedestrian Accidents Caused by Distracted Drivers Occur?
- How to Prove That a Driver Who Hit a Pedestrian Was Distracted?
- Contact a Chicago Pedestrian Accident Lawyer
- Client Testimonial
The ever-increasing popularity of smartphones triggered a sharp increase in road accidents caused by distracted drivers. With a smartphone at their hand’s reach, many drivers cannot resist the temptation to check their notifications or new messages in traffic jams.
Texting while driving and other forms of distracted driving can take precious seconds away from the driver’s reaction time, increasing the risk of collisions with pedestrians and other vehicles.
Studies have found that the impairments associated with driving while distracted are similar to those associated with drunk driving. In other words, distracted driving can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs because failure to pay attention to the road impairs reaction time and affects the ability to observe road conditions and react to potential hazards.
In the context of pedestrian accidents, distracted driving makes the motorist less likely to:
- See passengers already in the crosswalk or on the side of the road;
- Have full control over the vehicle; and
- Stop in time to avoid hitting a pedestrian crossing the street.
Besides, distracted drivers often engage in illegal driving behaviors such as:
- Running stop signs
- Failing to yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks
- Failing to avoid hazards
In any event, distracted driving is typically negligent driving. This means that victims of accidents caused by distracted drivers can generally recover compensation by pursuing a personal injury or wrongful death claim.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines distracted driving as any activity that takes a driver’s attention away from driving a vehicle. Further, the agency categorizes driver distractions as follows:
Manual distractions require drivers to remove their hands from the wheel. This can include:
- Applying makeup
- Eating while driving
- Drinking while driving
- Adjusting the radio
- Reaching for something in the backseat
These distractions occur when drivers think about something other than driving. In other words, the driver’s mind focuses on some activity in addition to operating a motor vehicle instead of solely focusing on driving.
Common examples of cognitive distractions include:
- Talking to a passenger
- Talking on the phone
- Being preoccupied with personal, family, or work-related issues
- Experiencing road rage
Whenever drivers look at something other than the road, a visual distraction has taken their attention. When many of us think of distracted driving, smartphone use immediately comes to mind.
Some examples of these distractions are:
- Checking email
- Browsing the internet
- Watching a video
- Looking for items in the vehicle
- Looking at a GPS device
- Being distracted by something outside the vehicle (e.g., a car crash or billboard)
Any distraction that diverts the driver’s attention from driving or forces the driver to take their hands off the wheel or eyes off the road can result in a devastating accident. A distracted motorist who takes his attention from the road may not notice a pedestrian crossing the street.
Pedestrian Accident Injuries Caused by Distracted Drivers
When motor vehicles strike pedestrians, the injuries can be extremely serious and even life-threatening.
Common injuries to pedestrians when they are in accidents with motor vehicles can include:
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Loss of a limb
- Injured extremities
- Pelvic injuries
- Soft-tissue injuries
- Internal organ damage
The severity of injuries suffered by pedestrians in accidents caused by distracted drivers depends on the type and speed of the vehicle involved in the collision. It is not uncommon for pedestrian accident injuries to entail expensive and lifelong medical treatment. However, an injured pedestrian or surviving family members may pursue financial compensation to cover the losses with the help of a Chicago pedestrian accident lawyer.
Most pedestrian accidents caused by distracted drivers occur at intersections.
However, other locations where these collisions may occur are:
- The side of the road
- Parking lot
- Along the curb
- Bus stop
While pedestrian accidents caused by distracted drivers have one thing in common-distracted driving-they may involve different forms of distraction. As mentioned earlier, there are three categories of distractions: manual, visual, and cognitive. But there are dozens of different distractions that may cause or contribute to accidents involving a distracted driver and pedestrian.
- Texting while driving. Reading and sending text messages while behind the wheel is arguably the most common and most dangerous type of distraction. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), sending/reading text messages takes the driver’s eyes off the road for five seconds, which is equivalent to driving the length of a football field at the speed of 55 miles per hour.
- Talking to passengers or on the phone. Many drivers think there is no harm in talking on the phone or talking with passengers. After all, your eyes can stay on the road, so what is the big deal? However, chatting with your passengers accounts for many distracted driving accidents. Having a conversation while driving is a form of cognitive distraction because the driver’s mind is no longer solely focused on the task of driving.
- Adjusting the radio, music, or dashboard controls. A driver may need to take their eyes off the road for a few seconds when changing the radio station or music playlist or adjusting the heat, air conditioning, or other dashboard controls.
- Smoking, drinking, eating, grooming, and putting on makeup. All of these activities constitute manual distractions because they require the driver to take one or two hands off the wheel, not to mention that it also takes the driver’s attention away from the task of driving.
- Looking at a map or using a navigation system. Entering information into the navigation system or looking at the map while driving may require the driver to take their eyes off the road and take at least one hand off the wheel.
- Reaching for objects in the car. A driver attempting to reach for objects in the front or backseat or the glove compartment will usually take their eyes off the road and their hands off the wheel. Doing so even for one or two seconds can be dangerous.
Often, a thorough investigation is necessary to prove that a driver was distracted when they hit a pedestrian. Proving that the driver was distracted by something may be difficult without surveillance footage showing the moment of the crash and/or witness statements that attest to seeing the other driver distracted.
The most challenging thing about seeking compensation after a pedestrian accident caused by a distracted driver is proving that the driver was not paying attention to the road when the collision occurred.
You may need a lawyer to gather the following evidence to prove that the driver was distracted at the time of the accident:
- Cell Phone records. If the driver did not see a pedestrian because they were sending, composing, or reading a text message or email on their phone, you might need access to the driver’s cell phone records to prove they were distracted at the time of the accident. An experienced pedestrian accident lawyer can help you subpoena cell phone records and put together a legal claim against the distracted motorist.
- Social media activity. If the driver was using social media when they hit a pedestrian, the social media activity might be time-stamped online. However, getting access to the electronic trail of social media activity can be tricky without the assistance of a Chicago pedestrian accident lawyer.
- Vehicle data. Modern vehicles have advanced technology that monitors a driver’s activity when the vehicle is in motion. If the driver was distracted by the navigation system or was adjusting the radio, music, or dashboard control, vehicle data may prove that the driver was distracted.
- Witness statements. Sometimes, witness testimony can prove a driver was distracted. Eyewitnesses who saw how the pedestrian accident occurred may testify that the driver was not paying attention to the road when they hit a pedestrian crossing the street or walking alongside the road. Witnesses may include other pedestrians, drivers, and passengers in other vehicles.
- Police report. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, a police officer who writes the official report may include notes about the driver’s distraction. However, police officers usually do not include any information about suspected distracted driving unless they saw strong evidence suggesting distracted driving.
- Accident reconstruction expert witness testimony. In some distracted driving accidents, the injured party may need to hire accident reconstruction experts to prepare a compelling report proving that the driver was distracted at the time of the collision.
- Surveillance or traffic camera footage. Surveillance or traffic camera footage plays a critical role in proving distracted driving. Unfortunately, this type of evidence is not always available because there may be no surveillance or traffic cameras near the accident scene.
Consider contacting a Chicago pedestrian accident lawyer to help you gather all available evidence proving that the driver who hit you was distracted. Your lawyer will leave no stone unturned in finding evidence to prove that the driver was not paying attention to the road.
If a pedestrian accident injured you and an insurance company already offered you a settlement, you may wonder whether it is worth your time to retain an attorney.
But a lawyer can help you, even if the defense does not contest your case.
- Deal with the insurance company. Insurance companies invariably try and settle their cases for as little as possible. Further, they often engage in tactics to get claimants to inadvertently admit partial fault for the accident. An attorney, however, will handle all communication with the insurance company for you. This will ensure that you do not say or do anything that will hurt your chances of recovery.
- Prove that the driver was distracted. A Chicago pedestrian accident lawyer will thoroughly investigate your case and put together all available pieces of evidence proving that the driver who hit you was distracted at the time of the collision.
- Evaluate your damages and losses. A skilled lawyer will thoroughly evaluate your case and determine how much your injuries are worth. For example, while it may seem easy to calculate things like medical expenses and lost income, how do you put a price on your pain and suffering?
- Fight for fair compensation. A lawyer can determine a fair settlement offer in your case. In addition, they will attempt to negotiate a successful resolution with the insurance company.
If the insurance company refuses to settle, your lawyer may file a lawsuit against the driver that hit you to ensure you recover from your losses.
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