Frequently Asked Questions About Accident Claims
Who pays for injuries caused by a car accident? Is my neighbor liable for a slip and fall on his property? How much could I get for my injury claim? Get the answers to the most common accident questions by searching our FAQ page.
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Is talking on a cell phone while driving less safe than talking to a passenger?
Distracted driving is a serious problem in the United States, causing nearly 400,000 accidents in 2015 alone, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Talking on a cell phone or smartphone while driving is one of the most common—and most hazardous—distracted driving behaviors. In fact, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Utah found that motorists who use handheld or hands-free mobile devices behind the wheel are just as impaired and dangerous as drunk drivers.
The University of Utah researchers found that motorists who talked on their cell phone while driving alone were just as impaired as those who drove with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher. Motorists distracted by cell phones were more likely to drift in and out of their lane, miss their exit, and tailgate.
If having a conversation with someone on the other end of a cell phone call is dangerously distracting, surely having a conversation with a passenger is just as treacherous, right? Not according to the results of a 2008 University of Utah study. The results revealed that conversing with a passenger is less dangerous because the passenger knows to pause the conversation when traffic is difficult. A passenger can also serve as a second set of eyes, pointing out road or traffic hazards that the driver might not see.
Were You Injured in an Accident?
If you or someone you love was injured in an accident caused by a driver who was distracted by a cell phone conversation, you may have to live with the effects of that driver's negligence for the rest of your life. However, that doesn't mean that accident victims have no recourse. Indiana laws gives those who were injured in accidents the ability to file a personal injury civil lawsuit and pursue compensation from the at-fault party.
Let Randy Sevenish of Sevenish Law help you fight for the financial recovery you deserve. Contact Sevenish Law today to arrange for a free initial case consultation.
What is distracted driving?
Distracted driving is driving while your mind, eyes, or hands are doing something else. Nearly any activity that causes drivers to take their eyes off the road, their hands off the wheel, or their attention away from maneuvering the vehicle could be considered distracted driving.
Common driver distractions include:
- Talking, texting, or checking social media on a mobile device, such as a smartphone
- Eating and drinking
- Personal grooming, such as combing hair or applying makeup
- Reading paper maps or using an in-vehicle navigation system
- Adjusting the vehicle's audio or climate controls
- Searching for a dropped item
- Scolding children or conversing with passengers
- Rubbernecking at accidents or attractions
- Daydreaming or worrying
While these actions may not be as obviously harmful as speeding or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, research shows they can be just as dangerous, because they take the driver's attention away from the road and significantly increase the risk of a crash.
Each year in the United States, thousands of serious and life-shattering car accidents are directly attributed to distracted drivers. In 2015 alone, distracted driving claimed the lives of 3,477 Americans, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Also, as idyllic as Indiana can be, the state hasn't been able to escape the consequences of distracted driving, which comes at a particularly high price for Hoosiers in terms of both lives lost and literal economic losses.
According to Indiana's Distracted Driving Injury Prevention Resource Guide, in 2014, approximately 9,000 motor vehicle accidents were caused by driver distractions, resulting in an economic cost of $197.5 million.
Were You Injured by a Distracted Driver?
If you were severely injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, filing a civil lawsuit against the at-fault party would allow you to pursue compensation for damages. These cases can be difficult to prove, but having the honest yet aggressive representation of an experienced car accident lawyer can help. Contact Sevenish Law's Indianapolis law office today to schedule your appointment for a free case consultation.
Why Do Safety Groups Object to Motorists Using Cell Phones While Driving?
Using a cell phone while driving may seem relatively harmless compared to speeding or the dangers of drunk driving. However, research from several of the nation's most prestigious safety groups shows that isn't the case.
Cell phone use while driving results in thousands of car accidents, personal injuries, and wrongful deaths each year in the United States. Motorists who were seriously injured in cell phone-related distracted driving accidents often face a number of unexpected medical, emotional, and financial challenges. Fortunately, Sevenish Law can help accident victims understand their rights and explore legal options.
Cell Phone-Related Distracted Driving Statistics
So, just how dangerous is using a cell phone while driving? The answer might surprise you. Consider the following statistics:
- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 391,000 people were injured and 3,477 were killed in distracted driving accidents in 2015, many involving cell phones.
- During daylight hours, at any given time, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones (NHTSA).
- Cell phone use behind the wheel leads to approximately 1.6 million accidents each year, according to the National Safety Council (NSC).
- More than one in four motor vehicle accidents are caused by cell phone use (NSC).
- Combining all three major forms of distraction—visual, manual. and cognitive—texting is considered one of the most dangerous distracted driving behaviors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- When driving at 55 mph, the average time it takes to check or send a text message is long enough to travel the length of a football field (CDC).
- In a 2011 CDC survey, 69 percent of U.S. drivers ages 18 to 64 admitted to talking on a cell phone while driving.
- A University of Utah study found that texting drivers were nearly six times more likely to get in an accident than drivers who weren't distracted.
Additionally, safety group statistics show that members of some demographics are more likely to use a cell phone while driving than others. For example:
- According to the NHTSA, cell phone use behind the wheel is highest among drivers ages 16 to 24.
- Approximately 10 percent of drivers between the ages of 15 and 19 involved in fatal crashes were said to have been distracted at the time of the accident (NHTSA).
- Nearly 42 percent of high school students responding to the CDC's 2014 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey reported texting or emailing while driving at least once in the past month.
As frightening as these statistics are, the National Safety Council warns that they may be just the tip of the iceberg, as many drivers involved in accidents aren't forthcoming about their cell phone use, or may be seriously injured or deceased. Inaccurate witness statements, difficulty obtaining the cell phone records of crash victims, and the lack of a breathalyzer-type test to prove cell phone use may make it even harder to accurately assess the threat posed by people who use a cell phone behind the wheel.
Distractions and the Multi-Tasking Brain
Despite the clear dangers associated with using a cell phone while driving, many motorists continue this unsafe practice—in part because they're confident in their ability to multi-task. Unfortunately, our brains are not capable of handling multiple tasks at once. Instead, when we think we're “multi-tasking” our brains are rapidly switching between tasks, which is incredibly risky behavior on the road.
Another common misconception is that hands-free cell phones are safer than their hand-held counterparts. Years of research shows that hands-free cell phones are just as distracting as traditional cell phones, and using them behind the wheel is just as dangerous.
Were You Injured in an Accident?
It can be difficult to conclusively attribute an accident to another driver's use of a cell phone. If you were injured in an accident caused by a motorist who was texting or talking on their phone at the time of the crash, you need the representation of an attorney who has experience handling these types of cases. Sevenish Law can provide you with the honorable, yet aggressive, representation you deserve. Call us today at 800.278.9200 or contact us online for your free initial consultation.
Is it Safer to Use a Hands-Free Cell Phone?
While one might assume that talking on a hands-free cell phone while driving is safer than talking on a hand-held device, extensive research on the subject shows that actually isn't the case.
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), driver error—including distracted driving behaviors such as talking on a cell phone—causes up to 94 percent of all car accidents. Hands-free communication devices such as earpieces, dashboard systems, and speakerphones aren't safer than traditional hand-held cell phones; the NSC contends they give drivers a false sense of security, making them think that by choosing a hands-free option, they're taking the appropriate safety measures to protect themselves and others on the road.
So, just how dangerous is cell phone use behind the wheel? A 2006 study conducted by University of Utah psychologists put drivers in a driving simulator and found that those who used cell phones posed the same dangers as driving drunk, regardless of whether they used hand-held or hands-free devices. Participants using cell phones missed twice as many traffic lights as drivers without phones, and were slower to react to the intermittent breaking of a simulated car in front of them.
These findings are particularly concerning considering that in the world outside the driving simulator, missed lights and delayed reactions can lead to real, serious accidents.
Three Types of Driver Distractions
The NSC and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have identified three main types of driver distractions:
- Visual distractions are those that cause drivers to take their eyes off the road, such as in-vehicle entertainment, navigation systems, or backseat passengers.
- Manual distractions are things that cause drivers to take one—or both—hands off the steering wheel, such as eating or drinking, adjusting the radio, or grooming.
- Cognitive distractions take mental focus away from driving, such as daydreaming or talking on a cell phone.
The most dangerous driver distractions are those that combine different types of distractions, such as texting, which requires drivers to take their eyes off the road, at least one hand off the wheel, and their focus away from driving.
Cell Phone Conversations vs. Conversations With Passengers
While hands-free cell phone devices can help drivers keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel, the authors of the University of Utah study suggest that it's the conversation itself—not the handling of the cell phone—that poses the most danger.
However, the NSC clarifies that for adult drivers, talking on a cell phone is far more dangerous than talking to a passenger. Why? Well, according to the NSC, it's because, unlike a person on the other end of a cell phone call, a passenger can serve as another set of eyes, pointing out driving hazards and recognizing when the demands of challenging traffic require drivers to stop talking. Studies have concluded that phone conversations distract drivers in ways that passive listening does not.
Indiana Laws on Cell Phone Usage While Driving
Despite the danger, Indiana cell phone driving law doesn't outright ban the practice. However, the law does prohibit novice drivers age 18 and younger from using both hands-free and hand-held cell phones. Additionally, the law forbids all Indiana drivers from texting while driving.
Were You Injured in an Accident?
If you were injured in a car accident caused by someone who was distracted by their hands-free or hand-held cell phone at the time of the crash, you have legal recourse. Sevenish Law can help you explore your legal options and fight for the financial recovery you need. Our firm's Clients First® Bill of Rights ensures that you'll receive the respectful, honorable and aggressive representation you deserve. Call our Indianapolis law office today at 800.278.9200 or complete our convenient online contact form for a free initial consultation.
How many accidents are caused by distracted driving?
Distracted driving is more common both in Indiana and across the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration driver distractions injure more than 430,000 people and kill nearly 3,200 each year. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now estimate that as many as one in four accidents are caused by some form of driver distraction.
As startling as these statistics are, they don't even show the whole picture. The truth is that it's impossible to know just how many accidents are caused by distracted driving for several reasons. Police may be unable to identify distracted driving as the cause of an accident, or they may not note accident-causing distractions in their reports in a way that's quantifiable to researchers. Additionally, some distracted drivers die in these crashes, so there isn't an explanation for what happened.
Even if distracted drivers are fortunate enough to survive accidents, they're rarely willing to implicate themselves as the cause of the crash for fear of potential criminal charges or civil lawsuits.
While we may never be able to conclusively know how many accidents distracted driving causes, researchers have identified several distracted driving behaviors that greatly increase one's chances of being involved in a car accident. These distractions include:
- Talking, texting, or emailing on a cell phone
- Eating or drinking
- Applying makeup
- Using an in-vehicle or phone-based navigation system
- Watching videos
Texting is considered one of the most dangerous behaviors of distracted driving, as it requires drivers to take their eyes off the road and at least one hand off the wheel, and diverts their mental focus away from piloting the vehicle. The current NHTSA data indicates 38 percent of distracted drivers were using cell phones at the time of a fatal crash.
Were You Injured in an Accident?
If you were injured in a car wreck caused by a distracted driver, you may be eligible to seek compensation from the at-fault party. Sevenish Law can help you explore your legal options. Contact our Indianapolis attorney today to make an appointment for a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your case.
Is it Legal to Use a Cell Phone While Driving in Indiana?
Statistics show that using a cell phone while driving can be exceptionally dangerous. The practice causes or contributes to 1.6 million crashes and thousands of personal injuries each year, according to the National Security Council. While no state has completely banned using cell phones behind the wheel, some states, including Indiana, restrict the use of cell phones and other telecommunication devices while driving in the interest of public safety.
Novice Drivers Need to Follow the Law
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), teen drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash, per mile driven, than any other age group.
Indiana law prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from using cell phones or any type of electronic device behind the wheel—including hands-free devices—due to their inexperience and higher statistical probability of being involved in a car accident.
Indiana Laws on Texting And Driving
Texting and driving seems to be on the rise. In 2011 23% of auto accidents involved the usage of a cell phone according to textinganddrivingsafety.com. Many States have introduced new laws including Indiana. Due to a texting and driving Indiana statewide law that went into effect in July 2011, it's also illegal for motorists of any age in Indiana to use cell phones or other telecommunication devices to type, transmit, or read a text message or email while driving. The law does allow motorists 18 and older to use a hands-free device behind the wheel. Drivers who run afoul of the ban can face fines of up to $500.
It isn’t only texting and driving, smart phones allow drivers to perform multiple tasks while driving, whether that is reading or sending emails, texting, reading websites, or even making a simple call. All of those activities take your eyes away from the road and put you at a higher risk of being involved in a car accident, missing a red light, stop sign or even someone breaking in front of you. All of these situations pose a potential threat to others on the roadway, including you. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that in 2010 over 3,000 people were killed in distracted driving accidents.
Text messaging or emailing while driving is considered especially dangerous, as it combines the three main types of distraction: visual, manual, and cognitive. The Indiana Department of Transportation reports that motorists who text and drive are 23 times more likely to get into an accident.
Additionally, both the prohibition against cell phone use by young drivers and the text messaging ban are considered “primary laws” in Indiana, meaning the police can stop motorists who break these laws even if they haven't witnessed them commit any other traffic infractions.
In order to avoid a traffic accident, just let that text wait until you make it to your destination. You might be surprised at the number of deaths that arise every year from auto accidents and the use of a handheld device. We have all seen our friends, parents and even our children paying more attention to their phone while driving rather than the road. It is very dangerous and the outcome of an accident can be catastrophic. However, whether or not you want to avoid getting a ticket, you should be aware of the risks of texting and driving. It isn’t worth risking your life to send that message!
Were You Injured in an Accident?
If you or someone you love was hurt in an accident caused by a driver who was talking on a cell phone or texting behind the wheel, you may be eligible to seek compensation for injuries and other financial losses sustained in the crash. The Indianapolis personal injury attorneys of Sevenish Law Firm can assist you in your pursuit of justice. Contact our Indianapolis law office today to schedule your free consultation or call us directly at 800.278.9200.
Are Some Drivers More Likely to Drive Distracted Than Others?
The official U.S. government website for distracted driving, Distraction.gov, describes this type of behavior as “any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving.” Common distracted driving behaviors include using a cell phone or smartphone, texting or emailing, eating or drinking, grooming, adjusting music, talking to passengers, and reading a map or using an in-vehicle navigation system.
While anyone can give in to temptation and take their eyes off the road for “just a second,” research shows that some drivers are more likely to engage in distracted driving behaviors than others.
Drivers Under Age 20
Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the youngest, least experienced drivers are most likely to be involved in fatal accidents caused by driver distractions. According to government statistics, drivers ages 15 to 19 were involved in a whopping 16 percent of all fatal car accidents caused by distraction.
To help keep your teen driver safe, model good driving behaviors and discuss the dangerous of driving when attention is diverted from the road.
Drivers Ages 20 to 29
Drivers in their 20s are the next most likely group to drive while distracted. These drivers account for 27 percent of distracted drivers, and 23 percent of drivers involved in all fatal accidents. As a result, 12 percent of the drivers killed in car accidents when distracted driving was a factor are between the ages of 20 and 29. Additionally, 38 percent of distracted drivers who were using their cell phone at the time of a fatal crash were in their 20s.
Age group isn't the only thing that can make a person more likely to drive while distracted. According to government research, what you drive can have an impact as well. For example, studies show that motorists most likely to be distracted during fatal crashes drove larger vehicles, such as SUVs or pickup trucks.
Motorcyclists and Bicyclists
Motorcyclists and bicyclists aren't immune to the temptations of distracted driving either. In fact, motorcyclists are just as likely to fall victim to distractions as the drivers of SUVs and pickup trucks. In addition, even when motorcyclists and bicyclists employ their best on-the-road behavior, their lack of a protective “exoskeleton” means that their safety depends largely on the driving practices of the motorists around them. When motorists take their eyes off the road—to eat, drink, adjust the music, or answer a “quick” text—they can put motorcyclists, bicyclists, and even pedestrians in grave danger.
Discouraging Distracted Driving
Distracted driving in Indiana is a growing problem. From state legislatures to national safety organizations, people are rallying together to change behavior. Some safety organizations believe the key to preventing distracted driving is to spread awareness of its potentially dangerous consequences resulting in a car accident.
Many states, including Indiana, have passed laws prohibiting new drivers from texting or using a cell phone while driving. Some states have also implemented laws banning the use of hand-held devices, even though studies show that using hands-free devices isn't much safer.
Were You Injured in a Crash Caused by a Distracted Driver?
Distracted driving can have catastrophic consequences not only for people who took their eyes off the road, but also unsuspecting individuals expecting everyone to focus on safe motoring. If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, it may seem like your entire life was turned upside down on that fateful day. You may find yourself seriously injured, facing a painful recovery period, and struggling with medical bills to make ends meet. Fortunately, you may not have to shoulder these financial burdens on your own.
Have you been injured by a distracted driver? Call us today at 800-278-9200 to schedule a free initial consultation or complete our convenient online contact form.
Why Has Distracted Driving Become Such a Big Issue?
Mounting work, family, and social obligations keep people busier than ever. Having so much to do makes achieving the perfect work-life balance feel like a next-to-impossible challenge and makes people feel as though multitasking is a necessity.
While you might be able to get away with sending emails during a meeting or wrangling kids while making dinner, one place where multitasking is never appropriate is behind the wheel of a vehicle. And, yet, studies show that people perform all kinds of other tasks while driving, putting themselves, their passengers, and everyone else on the road in danger in the process.
Distracted driving—which is any behavior or activity that diverts attention away from piloting the vehicle—is a leading cause of car and truck accidents in the United States that can be just as catastrophic as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Despite the dangers associated with driving while distracted, many motorists continue to drive without giving the road the undivided attention it deserves.
One reason many motorists drive while distracted is because they mistakenly believe that the consequences of do so—such as being involved in a serious accident with injuries or fatalities—can't happen to them. However, as any victim can attest, car crashes can happen to anyone and, when they do, can turn a person's entire world upside down.
In many ways, technology has vastly improved the quality of our lives. But, sometimes, when technology is used improperly or at an inopportune time—such as while driving—it can actually be a hindrance. In fact, some experts think the ubiquitousness of technology inside the vehicle has made it even easier for motorists to become distracted while driving.
Common technological distractions include:
- Using an in-vehicle navigation system or smartphone navigation app
- Talking on a cell phone or a smartphone
- Reading or sending text messages, checking emails, playing games, or using social media on a smartphone
- Watching movies on an in-vehicle DVD or Blu-Ray player
- Adjusting music on a radio, CD player, or MP3 player
Other Common Distractions
Tech gadgets aren't the only things that can distract drivers. Other common distractions include:
- Eating or drinking
- Applying makeup, fixing hair, and other grooming behaviors
- Reading physical maps
- Talking to passengers
- Scolding children
Consequences of Driving While Distracted
Having a short phone conversation or glancing at an incoming text message while driving may not seem as bad as driving while drunk, but it can be just as deadly.
Consider these concerning statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
- 3,328 people were killed in distracted driving crashes in 2012; 3,154 in 2013; and 3,179 in 2014.
- More than 431,000 people were injured in distracted driving accidents in 2014.
- At any moment, more than 660,000 drivers in America are using phones or other electronic devices behind the wheel.
- Texting while driving is one of the most dangerous driver distractions, because it requires motorists to take their hands off the wheel, and their eyes and cognitive focus off of the road.
- The risk of being involved in an accident doubles when a driver takes their eyes off the road for more than one second.
- The average text requires drivers to take their eyes off the road for at least five seconds, which is long enough to travel the length of a football field.
Are You Considering a Distracted Driving Lawsuit?
If you or someone you love was injured in a car crash caused by a driver who was talking on a cell phone, texting, or otherwise distracted, you know better than anyone just how devastatingly dangerous this behavior can be. Fortunately, the law gives you the ability to sue the at-fault driver for personal injuries as well as related medical expenses, property damage, and more.
Contact Sevenish Law online or by calling 800-278-9200 to schedule a free consultation regarding your potential distracted driving lawsuit.
Do the police take distracted driving seriously?
Absolutely, yes. Mr. Sevenish is a former police officer, Captain, and SWAT Team Commander and he says:
“I can tell you firsthand police officers are profoundly affected and sad when being forced to deal with the tragedy of a significant crash affecting so many others in result —even those not directly involved in the crash. And unlike the average crash victim, police officers deal with it nearly every day of their long careers. There is nothing worse than a police officer being forced to handle a significant crash to innocent people, especially those involving children and infants, directly due to a driver becoming needlessly distracted. Distracted driver accidents are more times than not, clearly avoidable and preventable.”
Some professional law enforcement agencies, such as the Indiana State Police and others, have prepared educational videos making drivers aware of distractions causing crashes with injury and death. Some of these educational videos are found on our site and on this channel for viewing.
Further, laws in many states allow police officers to pull over drivers they see violating a ban on texting or hand-held phone use. Other states allow law enforcement to make a note of whether a driver was using the phone at the time of an accident.
Most likely, police will assign the blame for a car accident on a driver distracted by a phone or other device, or any distraction, if there is evidence to support the use of distractions of any types (which is of course more than use of cell-phones).
However, as a practical matter, it remains extremely difficult for any police officer to make a clear determination that a crash was caused by a distracted driver unless the officer witnesses the distraction him or herself, or without an admission by the driver—which is rare—or other facts supporting evidence of distraction.
And all states have laws against reckless driving, which can be used in situations where distractions pose a clear risk. Most professional law enforcement continues to educate individual drivers one by one as they observe distractions firsthand and before a crash occurs.
And many, such as the Indiana State Police, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and others regularly offer ongoing educational programs to the public on the hazards of distracted driving. Police can only do so much.
It remains the direct responsibilities of parents of young drivers and seasoned drivers to recognize the significance of distracted driving and consciously decide not to be distracted and to stay mentally focused to avoid any any motor vehicle, bicycle, or pedestrian injury.