Distracted driving remains one of the leading causes of accidents in the U.S., especially with the growing prevalence of smartphones and drivers attempting to multitask and check their messages or text while behind the wheel. If you’ve been involved in a distracted driving accident, you may be entitled to receive compensation from the distracted driver.
Whether you were a passenger, a pedestrian or another driver, if the accident resulted in economic damages or injuries, you should consult with a South Fulton, Georgia personal injury lawyer to find out what type of compensation you are eligible for.
Defining Distracted Driving and Georgia’s Legal Framework
Georgia law acknowledges the dangers of distracted driving, taking a broad approach beyond a mere “texting while driving” ban. Under Georgia Code § 40-6-241, distracted driving encompasses any activity that diverts a driver’s attention from the road, including:
- Using cell phones (even hands-free devices)
- Adjusting entertainment systems
- Eating or drinking
- Engaging with passengers
Establishing Fault and Building Your Case
In the aftermath of a distracted driving accident, your primary objective is to secure compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and the intangible sting of pain and suffering.
To achieve this, you must establish fault, demonstrating that the other driver’s negligence directly caused your accident. Georgia Code § 51-1-1 serves as the overarching principle, stating that “a person who by his negligence injures another in his person or property is liable for the damage done.”
Gathering Evidence after a Distracted Driving Accident
Building a robust case hinges on a solid foundation of evidence. Consider gathering:
- Police Report: Obtain a copy of the official police report, which serves as a crucial primary document. Highlight sections mentioning observed distracted driving behavior or witness statements supporting your claim.
- Witness Statements: Identify and contact potential witnesses who can corroborate your account of the accident. Their testimonies can significantly strengthen your case by providing independent validation of the distracted driving behavior.
- Cell Phone Records: With proper legal procedures, obtaining the other driver’s cell phone records for the time of the accident might reveal phone usage, supporting your claim of distraction. Remember, privacy laws exist, so legal guidance is crucial in navigating this avenue.
- Video Footage: Dashcam footage or nearby traffic camera recordings can provide visual evidence of the distracted driving activity. If available, analyze the footage for visual cues like phone use, looking away from the road, or erratic driving patterns.
- Accident Scene Documentation: Take detailed photographs of the accident scene, including vehicle damage, skid marks, and any other relevant environmental factors. These visuals can offer valuable context and support your reconstruction of the events.
You should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney, specializing in car accident cases. Your attorney can navigate the legal labyrinth, guide you through the intricacies of the claims process, and advocate on your behalf to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve.
Types of Compensation Available under Georgia Law
Georgia law allows for diverse forms of compensation for victims of distracted driving accidents, catering to the multifaceted impact of such tragedies. Georgia Code § 51-12-1 through 51-12-5 outlines the recoverable damages:
This category compensates for tangible losses directly resulting from the accident.
- Medical Expenses: This includes all past and future medical bills related to your injuries, encompassing ambulance fees, emergency room visits, doctor appointments, surgeries, medications, and rehabilitation therapy.
- Lost Wages: If your injuries prevent you from working, you are entitled to compensation for lost wages from missed workdays and diminished earning potential. This may include lost bonuses, commissions, and future career advancement opportunities impacted by the accident.
- Property Damage: This covers the cost of repairing or replacing your damaged vehicle, along with any other personal property lost or damaged in the accident.
- Out-of-Pocket Expenses: You can seek compensation for other accident-related expenses, such as transportation costs to medical appointments, childcare for missed workdays, or home modifications necessary due to your injuries.
These damages compensate for the intangible hardships you endure due to the accident.
- Pain and Suffering: This encompasses the physical and emotional pain you experience because of your injuries. The severity of your injuries, the length of your recovery, and the impact on your daily life are all considered when determining the value of this compensation.
- Mental Distress: This covers the emotional trauma, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that the accident may cause. Evidence of mental health treatment and expert testimony can strengthen your claim for this type of damage.
- Loss of Consortium: If the accident impacts your marital relationship or your ability to enjoy intimate experiences, you may be entitled to compensation for loss of consortium.
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life: This compensates for the diminished quality of life you experience due to your injuries. For example, if you can no longer participate in recreational activities or hobbies you previously enjoyed, you may be eligible for this type of damage.
In exceptional circumstances where the distracted driver exhibited extreme recklessness or malice, Georgia law, as per Section 51-12-5.1, allows for punitive damages. This is intended to punish the driver’s egregious conduct and deter others from similar behavior.
Get Help from a South Fulton Car Accident Lawyer
Distracted driving is a preventable epidemic plaguing our roads. By understanding your legal rights under Georgia law and seeking competent guidance from a South Fulton, Georgia car crash attorney with Hartley, Rowe & Fowler, you can hold negligent drivers accountable and take strides towards healing and financial recovery.
If you were involved in a distracted driving accident, contact us at 678-825-6004 for a free case evaluation.