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Distracted Driving in Virginia is dangerous!

So you are driving down the road, and your smartphone, sitting on the seat beside you rings - do you pick it up? Does your car's infotainment system allow you to read text messages while you drive? Do you fiddle with your GPS as you head down the highway? Do you keep up with your Facebook while driving?

Did you know that sending or receiving a text while traveling down the highway at 55mph takes your eyes off the road for an average of about five seconds - that's long enough to travel the length of a football field!!!

Distracted driving is fast becoming more and more of a societal problem. In a report broadcast on October 5, 2017, NBC News reported that there is one highway death related to distracted driving every 2 ½ hours (nationally). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that in 2015, more than 390,000 people were injured in a traffic crash involving distracted driving, and there are other studies that agree! As technology becomes more and more integral to our lifestyles, it becomes an issue that cuts across age groups, socioeconomic status, and other demographic barriers. Indeed, the ever-advancing pace of technology has lead to more and more ways in which we all can become distracted.

Blaszkow Legal, PLLC is committed to working towards curbing the frequency of avoidable traffic accidents and related injuries. The Alexandria Injury Attorney recently participated in the 5th Annual Distracted Driving Summit, sponsored by DRIVE SMART Virginia. Traffic safety professionals from around the country gathered to explore best practices related to educating and reducing the frequency of distracted driving incidents.

Kinds of Distracted Driving Car Accidents

There are many different ways that a driver can be distracted on the highway. It's not just about using the phone, but that is certainly the most common. Some frequently encountered distracted driving issues include:

  • Scrolling the internet

  • Sending text messages

  • Talking on a handheld phone

  • Looking at a passenger in a car while speaking

  • Searching in the glove box or center console for things

  • Eating and unwrapping dinner or other food

  • Focusing on the infotainment system

  • Working to a handheld GPS device

  • Shaving or grooming, like combing hair or applying lipstick

Damages in a distracted driving car accident case

When you have been injured due to a distracted driver's negligence, you are entitled to file a claim for your damages. Damages are all of the elements of how the accident has impacted your life and affected you, not only financially, but also physically and emotionally.

Damages fall into two different sections, economic damages and non-economic damages.

Economic damages are those that have a quantifiable financial value. For example:

  • Ambulance transport

  • Emergency room visits

  • Emergency Room Physicians' bills

  • Radiology bills

  • Prescription receipts

  • Healthcare equipment, such as crutches and casts

  • Physical therapy and other rehabilitation

  • Lost wages, including any sick and vacation time you had to use

  • Diminished value (if you had a new or newer vehicle)

Non economic damages are more difficult to calculate, because there is no specific paperwork to look at to show the degree of impact that the car accident has had on your life. That does not mean that your pain is not real, it means that a skilled car accident attorney is going to work hard to prove your damages through witness testimony such as through friends and loved ones. Some items of non-economic Damages include:

  • Pain and suffering

  • Inconvenience

  • Emotional trauma

  • Disfigurement

  • Scarring

  • Loss of enjoyment in life

The car insurance companies will do everything they can to minimize your damages, and are very good at what they do. They will convince you that they are right, and that your claim is not as significant as you think it is. At Blaszkow Legal, we are dedicated to helping you get the compensation you deserve. We work for you!

Man driving car while texting

The importance of evidence

Distracted driving cases are built on a foundation of evidence, because we have a burden to prove that the other driver was negligent, and specifically that their distracted driving was the proximate cause of the accident. One of the most important things that we can do is protect and preserve the cell phone data of the at-fault driver until a subpoena can be generated. Cell phone data is not kept forever. Some phone companies only keep this data for 30 days, and some for a little bit longer. It's important for us to properly notify the dependent to protect and preserve this information. If they don't, they may be open to a claim for spoliation of evidence.

Depending on the severity of your injuries, we may determine that the best course faction is to file a lawsuit right away so that we can obtain the information necessary to prove your case via a subpoena. This is an extreme example but sometimes it is necessary.

Hiring an experienced attorney right away is vital because other pieces of evidence can also be lost over time. One of the most valuable pieces of information that a skilled Alexandria car accident lawyer can obtain for you is camera footage of the accident. However, like cell phone data, this footage is not kept forever. Many surveillance cameras will overwrite themselves, over time. Some systems will maintain the footage for a matter of days, While others will store it for 30 days. It is important that we can set our team of attorneys, paralegals, and investigators to work immediately to develop all of the evidence that we need to prove your claim.

Talking to the at fault insurance company

One of the biggest issues that we have found when clients come to our office, is that some have tried to speak to the at-fault car insurance company themselves. We understand why people do this, and we know that the insurance companies actually recommend it! But the insurance companies are only looking out for themselves. Insurance adjusters are very good at what they do! They will sound very sweet and very empathetic on the phone, but make no mistake - their job is to minimize your claim, or deny it outright. They are not here to help you. They have no duty to tell you the law, and they have no obligation to do what is best for you.

An attorney however does have a duty to you. The attorneys at Blaszkow Legal will guide you through every step of the case, and help you determine what is best for you, not for an insurance company and their stockholders.

The insurance companies have a whole bag of tricks that they use against un-represented people. They will try to take statements that they will transcribe and ultimately try to use against you, hoping that you have said things that disagree with each other. They will not care about the fact that you are undergoing medical treatment - they will simply use this disparity to suggest that you are lying, and deny your claim.

Another common tactic of insurance adjusters is to offer lump sum settlement payments immediately. They do this because once you accept the money, once you sign the settlement release, your claim is over. It doesn't matter, for example, if the MRI that you just got shows serious issues, that need surgical correction. Your claim is over when you waive away any future claim. Never accept a settlement offer from an insurance company without speaking to a lawyer first.

Contacting an Experienced Distracted Driving Lawyer in Virginia

If you have been hurt due to the negligence of another driver, especially one who was too busy on his phone or other device, then you have the right to file a claim for compensation. You should never fight for that compensation alone! Don't let the insurance companies push you around, as they defend someone who cared more about their phone than their duty to drive safely!

Call Blaszkow Legal today for a free consultation at 703-879-5910

Attorney Joseph Blaszkow is available, without charge, to present the Award-winning DRIVESMART presentation to any group or meeting, as part of our effort to help keep the roads safe in the DMV. Call our office, or email us through the website to schedule this presentation!