In Los Angeles, where the roads are always alive with activity, the dangers of distracted driving loom large, contributing significantly to the city’s traffic incidents. For those affected by car accidents caused by distracted drivers, navigating the legal landscape to seek compensation presents a complex challenge. In this article, our Los Angeles personal injury attorney explores distracted driving accident claims, offering crucial insights for those impacted by this growing issue.
Understanding Distracted Driving Laws in California
Distracted driving isn’t just about cell phone use. It’s any activity that diverts attention from driving. In California, two specific laws, Vehicle Codes 23123 and 23123.5, address this issue:
- Vehicle Code 23123: Makes it illegal to use a wireless telephone or other electronic device for conversation while driving unless it’s hands-free.
- Vehicle Code 23123.5: Extends this prohibition to other forms of electronic communication, like texting, unless the device is configured for hands-free use.
Both laws establish that violating them can serve as evidence of negligence in an accident claim, which is critical in personal injury cases.
Proving Negligence in Distracted Driving Cases
Proving that the other driver was distracted requires specific types of evidence:
- Cell Phone Records: Can indicate if the driver was using their phone at the time of the accident.
- Eyewitness Testimony: Witnesses may have seen the driver distracted by a phone or other activities.
- Traffic Cam Footage: Can provide visual proof of the driver’s actions before the accident.
To prove negligence, four criteria must be met:
- The driver owed you a duty of care.
- They breached this duty by getting distracted.
- Their breach led to the accident.
- The accident resulted in your injuries or financial losses.
The Role of Personal Injury Attorneys
Personal injury attorneys are vital in handling distracted driving cases. They assist with:
- Investigating the Accident: Gathering evidence and constructing the case.
- Dealing with Insurance Companies: Navigating complex interactions and negotiations.
- Filing Lawsuits: When necessary, initiating legal action to pursue fair compensation.
A skilled attorney can alleviate the stress of legal proceedings and ensure your rights are protected every step of the way.
Types of Damages Recoverable
In a distracted driving accident claim, victims can seek compensation for:
- Economic Damages: Covering measurable financial losses, such as:
- Medical bills and future medical expenses.
- Lost wages and lost earning capacity.
- Property damage.
- Non-Economic Damages: For impacts beyond finances, including:
- Pain and suffering.
- Mental anguish.
- Reduced quality of life.
- Loss of companionship.
- Permanent disability.
- Punitive Damages: In some cases, these may be awarded to punish the negligent driver and deter similar behavior.
Importance of Timely Legal Action
The clock starts ticking the moment a distracted driving accident occurs in Los Angeles.
Under California law, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is generally two years.
This time frame is more than just a legal formality; it’s a crucial window for action. Delaying legal proceedings can significantly weaken your case. Over time, key evidence can become lost or less reliable, and witnesses’ memories may fade, reducing the accuracy of their testimonies.
Additionally, insurance companies often view delays in legal action as a sign of a weaker claim, which could affect the settlement negotiations. That’s why it’s essential to consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident. Prompt legal action ensures that evidence remains fresh and your claim retains its strength, maximizing your chances of receiving the compensation you deserve.
While proving distracted driving in an accident claim can be complex, it is not impossible. If you or a loved one has been affected by a distracted driving accident, contact a skilled Los Angeles personal injury attorney to explore your legal options.