Drivers have to contend with many hazards on the road. California traffic is notorious, and aggressive driving, road hazards, construction, inclement weather, and other issues can make driving dangerous. However, statistics seem to indicate that the biggest danger is other drivers, especially those who are not paying attention to the road. Distracted driving is a serious issue, responsible for thousands of injuries and deaths every year. Anyone injured in a distracted driving accident in San Mateo needs reliable legal representation to secure compensation for losses. The San Mateo car accident lawyers at Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger are here to help you and your family.
What is Distracted Driving?
Everyone on the road has a legal obligation to pay attention to the road. Unfortunately, modern life is fast-paced and full of distractions, and some drivers fail to pay enough attention to the task at hand and cause accidents. Simply put, distracted driving applies to any situation in which a driver takes his or her attention away from driving. Distractions generally fall into three categories:
- Visual distractions are anything that causes a driver to look away from the road ahead. Even at moderate speeds, looking away for just a few seconds can equate to driving blind for considerable distances.
- Manual distractions are anything that requires the use of the driver’s hands. Drivers should refrain from adjusting the stereo or air conditioning in the car until the car stops. Fishing through a purse or bag, eating, and any other activity requiring the use of the hands is dangerous behind the wheel.
- Cognitive distractions are things that cause a driver’s mind to wander away from the task at hand. A stressful day at work can cause a driver’s mind to stray away from the road.
Texting while driving is arguably the worst type of distracted driving, as it involves all three types of distraction: the driver is thinking about the text conversation instead of the road, using his or her hands to operate the phone instead of the vehicle, and looking at the phone screen instead of the road. Texting while driving claims thousands of lives each year, with teens and young adults being the most likely to engage in the practice.
Distracted Rideshare Drivers. What Could Happen
Rideshare drivers may be independent contractors, but they still have a duty to act with reasonable care on the road like any other driver. When rideshare drivers cause accidents on the way to a fare or during a fare due to distraction, they will likely bear liability for the resulting damages, and the company’s insurance will apply. Unfortunately, Uber and Lyft function by incentivizing drivers to accept fares as quickly as possible, and this typically means using the smartphone app while also driving. This is inherently dangerous, as cell phone use is one of the most dangerous types of distraction while driving.
Uber and Lyft claim that drivers can easily use the app to accept fares without looking at the screen because they can tap anywhere on the screen to accept a fare. However, some states have very clear hands-free device laws, and the app’s compliance with these laws remains questionable. Ultimately, Uber and Lyft drivers feel pressured to accept fares as quickly as possible, and this often means using the smartphone app while driving.
When a driver causes an accident due to distraction, the rideshare company’s insurance coverage will only apply if the driver had a passenger at the time or was on the way to pick up an accepted fare. If a driver causes an accident while between fares but on duty, the company’s lower tier of coverage applies. Drivers who cause accidents while off duty must rely on their own personal auto insurance policies and may face civil action from anyone who suffers injuries or damages due to their actions.
Filing a Lawsuit for Distracted Driving in San Mateo
If you’ve suffered injuries or other losses due to a distracted driver in San Mateo, it’s crucial to understand your options for legal recourse. The right accident attorney can help injured drivers secure compensation for their medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost income, and property damage resulting from a distracted driving accident. These lawsuits will fall under the purview of personal injury law.
The plaintiff’s attorney must prove that the defendant was negligent for the plaintiff to win his or her case. In distracted driving cases, the act of driving while distracted constitutes negligence, so it’s up to the plaintiff to prove that the other driver was somehow distracted, and that distraction directly caused the accident. Evidence in these cases often involves eyewitness testimony, vehicle computer data, and traffic camera recordings. Compiling this evidence is no easy task, so injured drivers in San Mateo should look to the attorneys at Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger for legal counsel.
Our firm has secured more million-dollar settlements and case awards than any other Northern California personal injury firm, and we’re happy to put our talents and resources at your disposal. Schedule a free case evaluation today, and we will let you know how we can help.