Distracted driving claimed over 3,100 lives in the United States in 2019, with about 424,000 injured in crashes, and yet over 40 percent of teen drivers admit to texting while driving in the last 30days. There are three leading causes of driver distraction:
- taking your hands off the wheel
- taking your eyes off the road
- taking your mind off driving
Shifting focus for even a few seconds can be a fatal mistake.
If you’ve been involved in a car accident and believe the driver was distracted, you must be aware that there’s a heavy burden of proof in distracted driving cases. One eye witness may not be enough to prove the other driver was responsible for the accident. There are multiple ways to prove guilt, but you must act quickly to ensure you gather all the evidence you need.
Get a police report
The basis of your case against the other driver is the police report because it contains critical evidence you can use. This evidence includes:
- The other driver’s statement to the officer, admitting that they were distracted.
- Witness statements from passengers in your and the other vehicle, other motorists, or pedestrians.
- What the office has uncovered on the other driver’s cellphone.
- The officer’s observations may implicate the other driver.
You can request a copy of the police report at your local police station. Check their website to find out the procedure.
Seek eyewitness testimony
Eyewitnesses need to be contacted as soon as possible to get their full story and to assess their credibility. Because there’s an onus of proof, witnesses must come across as competent and sure of their testimony. The other driver will deny your claim vehemently to avoid blame, so every presented piece of evidence on your side needs to be believable.
The eyewitness can confirm the other driver was on the phone, reaching for something in the back seat, or some other distracting behavior. Through all your investigations, take good notes. Record everything.
Cell phone records
If you believe the other driver was on their phone or texting while driving, you need to gather as much physical and electronic data as you can. Subpoena the other driver’s cell phone records for evidence. Those reports will record activity during the accident because each text and call is logged by time and date.
When the initial investigation into the accident occurs, the police officer often inspects the other driver’s cell phone at the scene. The phone may be confiscated as evidence if the police officer deems it necessary. Investigating that phone may offer more information to support your case.
Social media activity
More electronic evidence can be gathered by surveying the other driver’s social media. This investigation needs to be done as quickly as possible in case the other driver deletes posts or comments they may have made during the accident.
Social media investigations might reveal posts by friends or passengers in the other vehicle in which the driver admits to guilt. There may even be a video of the incident already posted online, clearly proving the other driver was distracted.
Physical evidence includes both evidence inside the other driver’s vehicle, the outside of the car itself, and on the roadway around the accident. Take as many pictures or videos as possible of the physical scene and what you discover there.
Inside the vehicle
Inside the other vehicle, investigations may discover open fast food containers, spilled coffee or tea, an open book, or even an open laptop. Take as many pictures as possible so there’s a visual record for evidence and as a memory boost for yourself. This evidence can corroborate eyewitness reports.
Data records in the car
More and more, vehicles have advanced technology that keeps track of the driver’s behavior at the wheel. That record may include how fast the car was traveling at the time of the accident or whether the driver was using other electronic controls or changing the radio. That record from the at-fault driver’s vehicle may need to be subpoenaed, similar to cell-phone records.
External evidence on the car and the road
Damage on the other vehicle may suggest glancing impacts or other occurrences before the collision with your car. Check the road for tire tracks that might betray late braking by the other driver. Check for tire tracks showing the vehicle went off-road and further evidence for minor collisions leading to the accident involving your car. This evidence and the absence of slippery conditions or other external factors will point to distraction on the part of the other driver.
Admissions of guilt
An admission of guilt is the most substantial evidence against the other driver. They may not be aware of the law and blurt out the truth, thinking they’re explaining how the accident occurred. However, even if the driver admits to being distracted at the scene, they may later deny it. Passengers in the other vehicle may also report that their driver was distracted. They, too, may later recant.
If the investigating police officer hears the confession, it will go into the police report and become evidence against the other driver. However, if the driver changes their story, your testimony may be hearsay and inadmissible. A final note here is that an admission of guilt doesn’t mean an open-and-shut case, especially if other evidence comes forward that shifts blame away from the other driver.
Seek expert witness testimony
Expert witnesses in distracted driving cases are forensic experts. In your case, they’ll go through the process of recreating the accident to try and understand the reason for the collision. Exactly how was the driver distracted? What did the driver do? What were the repercussions? Once the expert is clear about cause and effect, they can testify in court as to their findings.
Every voice supporting your claim may help sway the decision in your favor, and an established expert’s opinion will generally have greater weight. The expert will have the experience and training to back up your claim, and they will generally testify as well.
When to call an auto accident attorney
Contact a car accident injury lawyer as soon as you reasonably can following an accident involving a distracted driver. The attorney will guide the investigation and help build a solid case in your favor. If the case is strong enough, you won’t have to go to trial, because the insurance company will offer a settlement instead.
If you’re searching for an “auto accident attorney near me” and finding it hard to pick the right lawyer from all the auto accident attorneys online, LegalASAP can refer you to an experienced auto accident injury lawyer to help you succeed in your auto accident injury claims. Contact LegalASAP today for a free assessment of your case.