Drivers become distracted when they fail to pay attention to the road. But long before cell phones and other electronic devices existed, drivers can still become distracted. Sometimes, small children misbehaving in the backseat diverted a driver’s attention away from the road. Similarly, drivers became distracted when they listened to loud music playing in their vehicle or roughhoused with vehicle passengers.
However, with the advent of cellular technology, the number of distractions in vehicles has increased dramatically. One of the newest technologies that distract drivers is a smartwatch.
Smartwatches are essentially small computers that a driver can wear on their wrist. Just like traditional watches, smartwatches tell the time. They also alert individuals to incoming phone calls, text messages, instant messages, and social media updates. Individuals who own smartwatches can also download various apps, including personal organizers and digital maps. Smartwatches can also gather information or receive data from other computers or electronic devices.
When drivers use their smartwatches, they may feel the temptation to send or read text messages and emails while driving. A driver may also use their smartwatch as a GPS navigation device, further distracting them while they drive.
You have legal options if you suffered injuries in a car accident resulting from distracted driving. A knowledgeable car accident lawyer can investigate the circumstances of your accident and retain an accident reconstructionist or other expert. If you can file a auto accident injury claim or lawsuit with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, your attorney can take those steps and recover the monetary damages you need for your injuries.
Categories of Distracted Drivers
When a driver gets behind the wheel of a car or truck, they have a duty to observe the road and to refrain from distractions. However, many drivers allow electronic devices and other individuals in the vehicle to distract them from their primary duty of watching the road. In some instances, a distraction may cause a driver to look down or to the side, preventing them from seeing an approaching vehicle or nearby pedestrian.
Moreover, in some cases, the distraction only lasts for one or two seconds. However, those few seconds may be enough time for a serious accident to occur. In addition to putting other drivers and their passengers in danger, distracted driving also puts yourself and your passengers in harm’s way.
Distracted driving can take several forms and may include cognitive distractions, manual distractions, and visual distractions.
A cognitive distraction is any type of activity that prevents a driver from focusing on operating their vehicle. Manual distractions, on the other hand, occur when a driver removes their hands from the steering wheel for any period. Finally, a visual distraction is something in the vehicle or on the side of the road that takes a driver’s attention off the road.
In some situations, drivers experience several of these distractions simultaneously. For example, sending a text message or drafting an email on a cellular phone, smartwatch, or another electronic device requires that a driver use their hands, look at the device screen, and think about what they plan to write. Distracted driving of this nature can prevent a driver from reacting quickly to an emergency that arises on the road.
Specific Dangers Unique to Smartwatches
Smartwatches are different from other electronic devices and come with their own set of dangers. In some instances, smartphones are safer to use while driving than smartwatches because a driver can operate their smartwatch with one hand. However, in most situations, a driver must use both of their hands to send a text message or read an email on a smartwatch.
Moreover, since the screen on a smartwatch is so tiny, a driver will typically need to lift the watch to eye level to read the information on the screen, including notifications. Smartwatches also frequently produce noises when the driver has a notification, tempting them to check the device and divert their attention away from the road. In fact, reading a text on a smartwatch takes an average of 2.52 seconds. Even though this is a relatively short time, it is enough time for a serious accident to happen.
What Are Some Distracted Driving Laws?
The law recognizes that distracted driving is a hazardous activity with a high probability of causing motor vehicle accidents. In some states, a driver may not receive a citation for using a smartwatch, per se. However, many state laws do prohibit drivers from operating their motor vehicles on a road while using an electronic device at the same time. Moreover, many state statutes do not explicitly exclude smartwatches from the category of electronic devices.
In some states, the law issues financial penalties to individuals who use electronic devices while driving. In addition to paying a high monetary fine, the offending driver may also lose their driving privileges for a period of time—especially if they are a repeat offender.
Although it only takes a second or two to glance at a smartwatch, the accidents that may result from distracted driving can cause accident victims to experience lifetime complications, suffering, pain, and inconvenience. They also may require ongoing medical treatment for the rest of the accident victim’s life, depending upon the nature and extent of their injuries.
Types of Car Accidents That Result From Distracted Driving
When drivers fail to watch the road attentively, several types of car accidents may happen. One of the most common car accidents that result from distracted driving is a rear-end crash. A rear-end accident occurs when the front of one vehicle hits the back of another vehicle, often causing the occupants of the front vehicle to suffer serious injuries. When drivers fail to pay attention and watch the road, they may not notice an approaching traffic intersection or highway traffic back-up. Consequently, they may be unable to stop their vehicle in time to avoid a crash.
The force of a rear-end accident may cause the accident victim’s body to move around inside their vehicle, causing traumatic head injuries or soft tissue neck and back injuries. These injuries are widespread if a part of the accident victim’s body strikes something in their vehicle.
Distracted driving can also lead to head-on collisions. In a head-on crash, the fronts of two vehicles collide, usually while traveling in opposing travel lanes. A driver who fails to watch the road attentively might negligently cause their vehicle to cross the centerline or concrete median strip and strike an oncoming vehicle head-on. When these injuries happen at high rates of speed, they may lead to fatal injuries.
Finally, sideswipe accidents occur when the sides of two vehicles traveling in the same direction strike one another. These accidents usually happen on multi-lane highways where all of the travel lanes proceed forward in the same direction. When a driver looks at their smartwatch or another electronic device, they may negligently cause their vehicle to veer across a lane marking and strike another vehicle. Sometimes, the force of the collision is so great that it pushes the vehicle on the receiving end entirely off the road—or into another vehicle’s direct path.
If you suffered injuries in any of these accidents that resulted from distracted driving, a car accident lawyer in your area can explain your legal options and help you select the best course of action for your case. If you are eligible to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, your lawyer can assist you throughout the process and, if necessary, file a lawsuit and litigate your case to a conclusion in the court system.
Injuries that Typically Result from Distracted Driving
Distracted driving accidents can lead to debilitating injuries, which leave an accident victim in need of ongoing medical care. The injuries that an accident victim sustains typically depend upon the force of the collision, the way their body moves in the car at the time of the crash, and the type of accident that occurs. When car crashes occur at high rates of speed, they are more likely to result in severe and sometimes permanent injuries.
A permanent injury is one that is unlikely to improve over time. To establish that a particular injury is permanent, a medical provider must state on the record, and to a reasonable degree of medical probability, that the injury is unlikely to get better with time. Your lawyer may also retain a medical expert to establish a causal relationship between your claimed injuries and the distracted driving car accident.
Common injuries that car crash victims suffer include traumatic head and brain injuries, soft tissue contusions, fractures, broken bones, internal organ damage, cuts, scars, bruises, spinal cord injuries, and paralysis.
As soon as possible after your car accident, you should follow up with your primary care doctor or at a hospital emergency room or urgent care center. The medical provider on duty can order the necessary imaging studies, including CAT scans, X-rays, and MRIs, to determine the severity of your injuries. In addition, your provider can recommend ongoing future treatment, such as following up with a medical specialist for continuing care.
Seeking same-day medical care is extremely important after a car accident—even if you do not feel any symptoms at that time. This is because symptoms of specific injuries do not appear until days or weeks after a car accident happens. Moreover, by treating as early as possible in your case, the insurance company will see that your injuries are severe and that you made your medical treatment a top priority after your car accident.
While you attend medical appointments and focus on improving your physical condition, a car accident attorney in your area can begin advocating for you and your legal interests. Your lawyer can start gathering your medical treatment records, bills, lost wage statements, and other potential evidence to introduce in your case. After you finish treating your injuries, your lawyer can submit a settlement demand package to the insurance company for the at-fault driver and begin negotiating fair compensation on your behalf.
In some instances, insurance companies are unwilling to offer accident victims the compensation they deserve. Insurance companies do this to try and resolve claims quickly and save themselves money. However, a knowledgeable car crash attorney on your side can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and pursue a better settlement offer. If the insurance company does not take your case seriously for whatever reason and fails to offer you the total monetary damages you deserve, your lawyer can file a lawsuit in court and litigate your case to a conclusion.
If your car accident case does not resolve by the end of litigation, it may go to a civil jury trial, where a jury will determine the total damages to award you for your injuries. You may also elect to pursue alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation or binding arbitration, as a way to resolve your car accident claim favorably.
Call a Skilled Car Accident Lawyer to Represent You Today
In car accident claims and lawsuits, time is of the essence. If you wait too long to file your claim or a lawsuit, the law may prevent you from recovering damages in your case. Therefore, it is in your best interest to retain a knowledgeable car crash lawyer as soon as possible in your case. Let your lawyer handle your legal business while you focus on recovering from your injuries.
Your lawyer can investigate your accident circumstances and meet with you to discuss a plan of action for your case. Your lawyer can also assist you during settlement negotiations with the insurance company—and with litigating your case in court if that step becomes necessary.
Finally, your injury accident attorney will be by your side during all legal proceedings, advocating for you and pursuing the maximum amount of damages you deserve for your injuries. Those damages can include compensation for your related medical expenses, lost earnings, mental distress, inconvenience, pain and suffering, lost quality of life, and permanent disability or disfigurement.