Distracted drivers are a regular occurrence in Washington, D.C. Busy commuters, multitasking drivers and distracted student drivers can put others on the roadway at risk by failing to dedicate 100% of their attention to the driving task. If you were in an accident involving a distracted driver, speak to a lawyer at Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP for counsel right away. The distracted driver may owe you financial compensation to cover your physical injuries and property damages. Our DC distracted driving attorneys help accident victims prove fault and recover maximum compensation in Washington DC. Call (202) 659-5500 or visit our contact page today for a free consultation.
Why Choose Us?
- Our law firm is one of the largest and most respected plaintiff’s firms in the Mid-Atlantic region. We have proven our abilities to help clients for over 40 years.
- Our lawyers have obtained substantial compensatory awards for past clients, including many multimillion-dollar results for car accident victims.
- Our car accident attorneys can handle all interactions with insurance companies and their legal teams on your behalf while you focus on getting well.
- Our plaintiff’s injury law firm handles all cases on a contingency fee basis, so you will only pay legal fees if we recover compensation on your behalf.
Do You Need to Hire an Attorney?
A distracted driving accident in Washington DC could cause serious personal injuries ranging from broken bones to spinal cord injuries. You or a loved one might have suffered a lifelong disability or an injury that will cause significant medical costs and lost wages. Do not attempt to navigate your auto accident claim alone. A distracted driving accident lawyer from Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP can help you go up against insurance companies and other defendants in pursuit of fair compensation for life-changing injuries.
With help from an attorney, you can combat common bad faith tactics meant to reduce your recovery, such as an insurance company unfairly denying your claim or delaying resolution without a valid explanation. Your lawyer can take over negotiations with an insurance claims adjuster on your behalf to make sure no one takes advantage of you. An attorney can also help you prove fault using evidence gathered to fight for maximum financial recovery – all while addressing your unique needs and concerns.
What Is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is a tort, or wrongdoing, in which a driver breaches his or her duty of care by failing to pay proper attention to the road. Driving while distracted is a common and destructive habit that has grown in recent years due to rampant cellphone use behind the wheel. Distracted driving can make it difficult or impossible for a driver to exercise due care behind the wheel. It can delay a driver’s reaction times and substantially increase the risks of a collision. There are three main types of driver distractions.
- Manual distractions. A manual distraction is anything that forces a driver to take his or her hands off the steering wheel. A common culprit is cellphones. Any item or distraction that removes the driver’s hands from the wheel is a danger that could result in an accident by delaying the driver’s ability to react to changing roadway situations.
- Visual distractions. A visual distraction draws a driver’s eyes to something other than the roadway ahead, such as a cellphone screen, a passenger, a child, a billboard, a car accident outside, the radio or a GPS. Visual distractions can lead to catastrophic accidents such as high-speed collisions, rear-end collisions, pedestrian collisions and red-light accidents.
- Cognitive distractions. A cognitive distraction occupies the driver’s thoughts enough to delay reaction time or skew judgment while driving. Emotions of any kind that are overpowering could become cognitive distractions, including anger, frustration, stress, depression, excitement and happiness.
Signs of distracted driving include drifting out of one’s lane, hitting the brakes suddenly, driving on autopilot, trouble remembering the last few miles driven, missing an exit, speeding, rolling through stop signs, failing to see pedestrians and running red lights. Distracted driving is a dangerous practice that is both a civil wrongdoing and against the law in Washington DC. If you noticed signs of distracted driving right before a driver collided with you, you may have grounds for a civil claim against that person.
Common Forms of Distracted Driving
Over time, drivers have had to mitigate more distractions due to new technologies and pressures to multitask. It remains, however, a driver’s responsibility to resist distractions and dedicate 100% of his or her attention to the road and safe vehicle operation. Failure to do so could cause a serious car accident. Anything that removes a driver’s attention from the task at hand could constitute a dangerous driver distraction.
- Texting while driving
- Applying makeup
- Personal grooming
- Talking to passengers
- Dealing with pets or children
- Eating and drinking
- Fiddling with the radio
- Looking at a map or GPS
Many drivers do not realize they are distracted until it is too late. They are used to multitasking and believe they have the ability to do more than one thing behind the wheel. Unfortunately, this overestimation of a driver’s capabilities has led to thousands of preventable car accidents, injuries and deaths around the U.S. Each year as the rate of distracted driving increases, so does the number of related collisions.
Distracted Driving Statistics
The number of recorded distracted driving accidents is alarming enough, yet it is only part of the full scope of the problem. It is difficult to gauge the actual rate of distracted driving due to trouble identifying this as the cause of many fatal accidents. Tracking the rate of known distracted driving accidents can help spread awareness of the seriousness of this problem in the hopes of reducing and ultimately eliminating distracted driving in the future.
- In 2017, 3,166 victims around the U.S. died in traffic accidents involving distracted drivers. Distracted driving accounted for about 8.5% of total traffic fatalities in 2017. (Source: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.)
- Nearly 60% of drivers admitted to using a cellphone behind the wheel in the past 30 days. The most common type of use was reading a text (48%). Distraction is highest among younger drivers. (Source: ScienceDirect study.)
- In 2017, 434 accident fatalities involved the use of a cellphone by a driver behind the wheel. Over a five-year period, cellphones were the fatal distraction for 14% of distracted drivers. (Source: The Insurance Information Institute.)
At Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP, we know clients are not statistics. We always look at the human behind the distracted driving accident claim. However, we also recognize the importance of keeping up with the latest national and local distracted driving statistics to ultimately benefit our clients. Our attorneys are up to date on all state and federal distracted driving laws, as well as the most common causes of distracted driving in DC. We use our in-depth knowledge of distracted driving to help clients negotiate for fair and full compensation.
Washington DC Laws Against Distracted Driving
Most states and municipalities have created distracted driving laws to help reduce the prevalence of this dangerous problem. Washington DC is one of them. In 2004, the District of Columbia passed the Distracted Driving Safety Act to set restrictions on the use of cellphones behind the wheel. This act officially made it illegal for drivers to use handheld cellphones or other electronic devices while operating motor vehicles in Washington DC.
As of July 1st, 2004, using a handheld device to talk, text, navigate or for other reasons is against the law in DC. Drivers may only use cellphones while driving if they do so using hands-free accessories. Bus drivers and drivers using learner’s permits may not use cellphones at all, even if they are hands-free, except in emergencies. These laws only apply to drivers in moving vehicles. The penalty for a violation is $100 for a first offense, $150 for a second offense and $200 for a third offense.
Why Texting While Driving Is So Dangerous
Almost all laws regarding distracted driving have to do specifically with distractions related to cellphone use. The reason for this is the extreme risk that comes with cellphone use behind the wheel compared to other distractions. Texting while driving has such a high risk because it fulfills all three forms of driver distraction: manual, visual and cognitive. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that looking at a cellphone to read or write a text message for just five seconds while traveling at 55 miles per hour is the equivalent of crossing a football field without looking up.
Every driver has an obligation to operate his or her motor vehicle with reasonable care for the safety of others. This involves obeying all regulations and best practices regarding cellphone use while driving. Failure to do so, resulting in a car accident, could lead to both civil and criminal penalties for the distracted driver. Violating DC’s cellphone law and causing injuries, deaths or property damage in excess of $10,000 can lead to a fine of $1,000 and/or up to 180 days in jail for criminal penalties. It could also lead to civil liability for the victim’s losses.
Are You Eligible for Compensation From a Distracted Driver?
If a distracted driver in Washington DC caused your recent car accident, you could receive compensation for your related losses, injuries and property damages. Filing an insurance claim or civil lawsuit against the at-fault driver could end in financial recovery. A lawyer from Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP can help you fight for the financial relief we believe your damages demand. A successful distracted driving case could result in reimbursement for many different damages.
- Physical pain and suffering related to your personal injuries
- Emotional or psychological distress compensation
- Payment of past and future medical expenses
- Reimbursement of lost wages from staying home from work
- Vehicle repairs or replacement of a totaled vehicle
- Punitive damages
To receive a compensatory award from a distracted driver, you or your attorney will have to prove the driver’s fault in causing your crash. You will need evidence that were it not for the other driver’s distraction, your car accident and injuries would not have happened. Your lawyer will also need to prove that the distracted driver’s negligence caused you compensable damages. Find out whether you have a distracted driving accident claim in DC today during a free consultation with one of our attorneys.
Contact a Washington DC Distracted Driving Lawyer
It is important to stand up for your rights by hiring an attorney during an accident case involving a distracted or reckless driver. Navigating your claim alone could lead to mistakes like missing your statute of limitations or failing to obtain key evidence, such as the other driver’s cellphone records. The lawyers at Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP help victims with distracted driving accident cases in Washington DC. Please contact us today for more information about your specific case.