What Should I Do If I’m Involved in a Car Accident With Someone Who Was Texting?
In 2012, the popular TV show Mythbusters tested a study that said using a cellphone with driving is as dangerous as drinking and driving. Two of the show’s co-hosts had to pass a driving test while talking on their cell phone. They repeated the test after having several beers. Their tests confirmed it’s true. Additional tests found that using a hands-free device was just as dangerous as holding the cell phone to your ear.
That’s talking on a cell phone. What’s more deadly is texting and driving. Why? When you’re talking on the cell phone, you’re forcing your brain to do several things at once: focus on the road, focus on what the person on the other end is saying, form a response, and verbalize the response. Texting requires you to take your eyes off the road to look at the keyboard. Even if you use speech-to-text, you’re still taking your full focus off the road.
What if you’re in a car crash with a person who is texting? What are your rights and responsibilities? Much of this depends on your local and/or state laws. A 2016 poll found that more than half of the California drivers who answered the survey said they’ve been hit or almost hit by a distracted driver.
Laws Regarding Texting While Driving Vary By State
In California, everyone using a cell phone to read, send, or write a text message while driving is doing so illegally if they’re not using hands-free technology like Bluetooth. The 2009 Wireless Communications Device Law banned the use of a handheld device while driving. A second device bans the use of hands-free technology while driving if you are under 18.
California’s Senate Transportation Committee is scheduled to discuss a new bill that will increase the penalty for distracted driving. Instead of the base fine of $20, the new penalty would add one point on your license. If this passes, it means that many people would see their insurance rates increase by as much as 20 percent. People with multiple infractions could end up losing their license.
Do These Five Things First
After the crash, call 911 and ask for police and emergency services. Even if you think you’re fine, have a professional check you out. You could have internal injuries, fractures, or a concussion.
Get photos of the cars and accident scene if you’re able. Don’t make this a priority if there’s a chance you’re hurt. The police will take photos for the accident report.
The same goes for getting the other driver’s contact and insurance information. If you’re injured, let the police gather this for you.
Accept the ambulance ride to the ER if it’s recommended. If not, go home and schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. Adrenaline will mask the pain you should be feeling, so you could be injured and not realize it until later.
Call your insurance company and give them as much information as you can. Your agent will tell you what you need to do and take care of the rest.
Statute of Limitations for Auto Accidents
As texting and driving are illegal unless it is hands-free and the driver is 18 or older, it’s very likely that in a crash, the other driver would be ticketed. You also have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit. There are deadlines you must adhere to, however.
If someone else crashes into your car and causes injury, you do have the right to sue, but you also have statutes of limitations to follow. For lawsuits involving personal injury, you have two years from the time of injury. If the injury wasn’t apparent on the day of the accident, it’s one year from the date you discovered the injury.
Property damage caused by the other driver has a three-year statute of limitations. This is based on the date of the accident, not by the date you discovered the damage.
If the other driver was driving a government car or on official government business when the crash occurred, you have to file a claim within six months. Once the claim is filed, the government agency has 45 days to respond. If they deny your claim, you have six months to file a lawsuit. If you don’t get a letter denying your claim, you have two years in which you can file a lawsuit.
As there are exceptions to government statutes of limitations, it’s best to talk to a personal injury lawyer in California. With the help of a lawyer, you’ll know if you have a case. You’ll also have someone fully knowledgeable in the laws to make sure you don’t miss any important deadlines.
Carpenter & Zuckerman have the experience you need after a car accident. You don’t have to accept the insurance company’s settlement offer if you think it’s unfair. You may find that your medical bills continue building up due to mental trauma. Your ability to do your job may be affected permanently. If the other driver has negatively impacted your quality of life, it’s best to talk to a lawyer.
Receive a free consultation from the attorneys at Carpenter & Zuckerman. They’re available 24/7 via chat, email, or by calling 888-CZR-FIRST. You will not have to pay for the initial consultation. We’re here for you. Call now.
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