Car accidents are always upsetting, but when we learn that the person at fault was using their cell phone, or was engaging in other voluntary distractions, the accident is particularly frustrating.
Even worse, if the victim is left with serious injuries or loses their life, the driver’s choice to indulge in distractions is made all the more tragic.
Distracted driving is a choice, and it is never acceptable. Cell phones are a big part of the problem, but there are many other kinds of distracted driving — and all of them put passengers, pedestrians, and motorists at mortal risk.
As New York distracted driving attorneys, we help auto injury victims hold careless drivers accountable. While the laws on distracted driving often struggle to keep pace with technology, we are pleased to report that New York has some of the most progressive laws in the country in that regard.
If you have been injured by a driver who you believe was distracted at the time of the accident, you have rights, which may include the right to financial compensation. A distracted driving accident lawyer in New York can help.
The Most Common Types of Distracted Driving in New York
Even though cell phones dominate the discourse over distracted driving, the term is defined much more broadly than that. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) puts it like this: “distraction occurs when drivers divert their attention from the driving task to focus on some other activity” (emphasis added).
In other words, anything that takes your hands, eyes, or mind away from the task at hand is a distraction.
Some of the most common non-phone-related distractions include:
- Tending to other passengers, children, or pets in the car
- Reaching for objects in other seats (or the center console)
- Eating while driving
- Reading a book or map
- Using an in-car navigation or GPS system
- Adjusting the radio or climate controls
- Studying one’s reflection in the mirror / applying makeup
- Driving with eyes on the road but the mind “in a daze”
- Paying attention to billboards, accident scenes, the scenery, or other out-of-vehicle distractions
Meanwhile, some of the most common smartphone distractions include:
- Texting while driving
- Talking on the phone while driving
- Reading or composing email
- Searching for music or podcasts
- Browsing the web
- Using a GPS app
- Playing a game
- Using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or other social media
- Taking selfies or other photographs while driving
- Recording video while driving
- Watching YouTube, live streams, or movies
- Placing mobile orders while on the way to a restaurant
- Plugging the phone up to a charger
All these activities are dangerous, and they may subject the driver to legal liability. A distracted driving accident lawyer in NY can help.
The Law on Texting While Driving in New York
Prior to 2011, texting while driving was considered a secondary offense in New York, meaning an officer could only pull you over for texting if you were also engaged in a primary offense (such as speeding or running a red light).
In 2011, however, the New York legislature amended state law to make texting while driving a primary offense in New York.
Under current law, if officers see you holding any handheld electronic device (a term that is defined rather broadly), they can presume that you are using the device, and that alone is enough for them to pull you over and give you a ticket.
While the law is still evolving, it carries significant penalties and is being enforced rather aggressively statewide.
But that 2011 law is most relevant to the question of traffic tickets. If you’ve been injured by someone texting while driving, while you’re probably glad to know the careless driver got a ticket, you might be more interested in how you are going to pay your medical bills, repair your car, and make up for the days of work you missed.
The issue of financial compensation for injury victims is governed by New York personal injury law, which makes it clear that texting while driving is negligence.
Negligent drivers are liable for the damages they cause. In order to recover compensation, you will need to show that the driver was negligent and that such negligence caused your damages. An experienced Kingston distracted driving lawyer at O’Connor & Partners can help you make that case.
Certainly, if the at-fault driver got a ticket for texting, that ticket will serve as useful evidence for your claim. But even if they weren’t ticketed, you may still have a strong case. After all, there are many kinds of distractions for drivers, including distractions for which tickets aren’t often written (eating while driving, for example).
The bottom line is this: whether a ticket was issued or not, if you were injured on the road and another driver was at fault, you have a right to financial compensation.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer in NY
If you have recently been injured in an auto accident and you believe the driver who caused it was texting or otherwise distracted, we encourage you to reach out to our office right away. You may be entitled to financial compensation, which may exceed any settlement offer that the insurance company might have proposed.
We are proud to offer no-cost, no-risk case consultations for people who have been injured by careless drivers.
Our firm fights hard to maximize compensation for the clients we represent.
If you choose to hire us after your consultation, we will not charge you a fee unless we get you money first.
As Kingston car accident lawyers, we offer our legal services to individuals living all throughout the State of New York, including: Kingston, Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, Ellenville, the Hudson Valley, New York City, and beyond.
If you can’t come to us, we’ll come to you. Just contact us online or call 845-303-8777 to talk with an experienced Kingston distracted driving lawyer today.