When a car accident occurs, proving that it was caused by distracted driving can be harder than it might seem. If you’ve been in a car accident where the other driver was distracted, a skilled lawyer is your best chance to prove the driver was distracted and establish liability.
What Evidence Is Needed in a Distracted Driving Accident?
In a car accident case, proving distracted driving against the other driver usually requires a combination of physical evidence, witness statements, cell phone data, and sometimes police reports. Each type of evidence plays a unique role in building a solid case against the other driver.
Eyewitness statements are often crucial in proving that the other driver was distracted at the time a car accident occurred. Bystanders, pedestrians, passengers, and other motorists can provide firsthand accounts of the driver’s activity in the minutes leading up to the crash.
This testimony can provide compelling evidence that the driver was not fully attentive to the road, thus supporting your claim of driver distraction when the crash occurred.
Cell Phone Data and Records
In today’s world, one of the most common forms of driver distraction is the use of cell phones. A skilled attorney can obtain access to the distracted driver’s cell phone records to demonstrate that they were texting or calling at the time the accident occurred.
This phone data is often a powerful tool to prove distracted driving, as it provides concrete evidence of the driver’s distraction.
A Police Report
When a serious car accident occurs, law enforcement officers from the local police department usually respond to the scene. They generate a police report which details the circumstances surrounding the accident, including any visible signs of distraction, like a cell phone on the driver’s lap or evidence of applying makeup or eating. A police report is an essential piece of the puzzle when proving distracted driving.
In some cases, video footage from traffic cameras, dashcam footage, or surveillance cameras from nearby businesses can provide indisputable evidence in a distracted driving accident case and back up police reports and witness statements.
For instance, the video might show the other driver looking at their phone’s screen instead of the road when the collision occurred. This type of evidence can be especially convincing in a court of law or to an insurance company.
Types of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving isn’t limited to just cell phone use. There are multiple types of distracted driving behaviors that can lead to car accidents. These distractions can be categorized into three main types: visual (taking your eyes off the road), manual (taking your hands off the wheel), and cognitive (taking your mind off driving).
A distracted driver might be engaging in activities such as eating, tuning the radio, chatting with passengers, or even reading a map while behind the wheel. In essence, any activity that diverts attention from driving can cause a car accident.
What Are the Distracted Driving Laws in Missouri?
Up until this year, distracted driving laws in Missouri have been among the most lax in the nation and targeted only younger drivers. For drivers under the age of 21, it’s illegal to text while driving. The penalty up the summer of 2023 has been $200 per incident and 2 points on the offender’s license.
However, that’s all changed with a new law passed in 2023 and set to go into effect in August of 2023. The new law makes it an offense for any driver to:
- Use their hands to type, write, send, or read text messages
- Record, post, send, or broadcast any video, including to social media or video chats
- Watch a movie or video
- Hold or hold up a mobile device with any body part
Drivers will still be able to use the hands-free functions of their devices, and cell phones can be used by hand when at a full stop, including at a stop light, except for school bus drivers, who are not permitted to use cell phones when stopped to load or unload. There are a few exceptions for first responders and for emergency situations.
Initially, Missouri law enforcement are going to stop drivers and issue warnings. Starting in 2024, they will administer a $150 fine for first-time offenses. Another offense within two years means a fine of $500.
Hire a Lawyer If You Believe That You Were Injured by a Distracted Driver
Seeking legal help is critical if you believe you were injured by a distracted driver. Personal injury cases, especially those involving car accidents and distracted driving, can be complex. A skilled attorney will know how to gather and present evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and represent you in court, if necessary.
Hiring a car accident attorney increases your chances of obtaining full compensation for your injuries. They will handle the legal procedures, allowing you to focus on your recovery. Whether it’s collecting witness statements, obtaining cell phone records, or engaging accident reconstruction experts, your attorney will use all available resources to prove the distracted driving case.
What Your Lawyer Can Help You With
After a car accident, one of the best ways to understand the dynamics of the crash is through accident reconstruction. Your car accident attorney may work with accident reconstruction specialists to recreate the moments leading up to the collision. This process often involves a meticulous examination of the crash scene, analysis of vehicle data, and careful consideration of witness statements.
Reconstruction experts can identify signs of distracted driving such as sudden braking, swerving, or speeding that could indicate the other driver’s attention was not on the road. This technique provides convincing evidence of distracted driving and could strengthen your case significantly.
Gathering Evidence at the Scene of the Crash
Right after a car accident, it can be overwhelming, but it is crucial to try and gather evidence at the accident scene. Pictures or videos of the accident scene can capture details that may later prove useful, such as the positions of vehicles, damage to the vehicles, or visible distractions inside the other driver’s vehicle.
Note the presence of any surveillance cameras from nearby businesses that could have captured the accident, as well. Your lawyer will go through looking for evidence at the scene of the accident later, and sometimes things still turn up, even after a few days. However, the longer you wait, the less likely your lawyer will be able to find anything helpful here, so call an attorney as soon as possible.
Obtaining Access to Vehicle Data
If a car crash occurs, this vehicle data can offer insights into what happened in the minutes leading up to the crash. Accessing this data can potentially reveal whether the driver was speeding, applied brakes abruptly, or made a sudden lane change—all possible signs of distraction.
Talking to Witnesses and Gather Their Statements
Witnesses can provide key details about the accident that you might have missed. They can confirm if the driver was on their phone, seemed distracted, or was driving erratically before the crash. Eyewitness statements are a valuable component of the evidence used to prove distracted driving in a car accident case.
At Holman Schiavone, LLC, we have the experience and commitment to guide you through this complex process. If you have been injured in an accident where the driver was distracted, we can help. We’ll gather the necessary evidence, represent your interests, and help you seek the compensation you deserve. Contact Holman Schiavone, LLC at 816-330-2253 today to discuss your case and let us support you on your road to recovery.