We have all taken our eyes off of the road while driving for a moment or two – perhaps to change the radio, talk to a passenger, or deal with the kids. Yet with the popularity of cell phones, distracted driving has become a bigger problem than ever before. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,142 people were killed by distracted drivers in 2019 alone.
If you were hurt in an automobile accident involving a distracted driver, you may be able to file a personal injury claim. Through a lawsuit, you can recover money for your losses, including medical bills, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and more. A skilled West Virginia car accident attorney can help you prove that the other driver was distracted at the time – and get you the money that you deserve for your injuries.
The personal injury attorneys of Johnstone & Gabhart have more than 50 years of experience helping accident victims get the money that they deserve for their injuries. We offer free initial consultations, and never charge a fee unless we recover money for you. With a strong track record of success, our law firm is a great choice for anyone who has been hurt in a motor vehicle accident.
Can I Sue If I Was Hurt in a Distracted Driving Accident?
If another driver crashed into your car while texting or driving or using their phone, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against them. In West Virginia, personal injury claims are typically based on a theory of negligence, which is the failure to use the level of care that a reasonable person would in a similar situation.
Negligence has four elements:
- Duty: the negligent party (defendant) owed the injured party (plaintiff) a duty of care.
- Breach: the defendant violated that duty in some way.
- Causation: this breach was the proximate cause of the accident.
- Damages: the plaintiff suffered losses.
In West Virginia, some types of distracted driving are against the law – such as texting while driving. If your personal injury lawyer can establish that the at-fault driver violated this law, then the doctrine of negligence per se may apply.
Negligence per se is a legal concept that allows a plaintiff to conclusively establish the defendant’s negligence. In order for this doctrine to apply, the law must have been designed to prevent the type of harm that the plaintiff suffered, and the plaintiff must be within the class of people that the law was designed to protect. After a distracted driving accident, your attorney may be able to argue that because the negligent driver violated West Virginia’s laws that were designed to prevent these types of crashes, they should be found negligent per se.
Of course, distracted driving is not always about using a cell phone or other electronic device while driving. If the other driver was distracted in another way, then your lawyer will gather evidence to prove that they were negligent in taking their eyes off of the road.
What Damages Can I Recover for a Distracted Driving Accident?
Damages in a distracted driving accident case may include financial compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Future medical treatment
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Property damage
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
If your loved one died in a Charleston distracted driving accident, then you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover compensation for your losses.
Most personal injury claims are resolved through negotiation with the insurance company. Typically, this process starts with your attorney investigating the case and then sending a demand letter to the insurer. This letter sets out the facts of the case, the legal reasons why their insured is responsible and makes a demand for damages.
If the insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement for your losses, then your attorney may advise you to file a personal injury lawsuit. Negotiations will continue throughout the pretrial process. If your case does go to trial, your personal injury lawyer will ask the jury to find it in your favor.
How Can an Attorney Prove Distracted Driving Caused an Accident?
Distracted driving is responsible for thousands of accidents each year. If you were involved in a collision with a distracted driver, then you will need to prove that they were distracted in order to recover fair compensation for your accident claim.
Your auto accident attorney will utilize a variety of strategies to prove that the other driver was distracted at the time of the crash, including:
- Obtaining a police report, which may include a citation for distracted driving or notes of witness observations about distracted driving;
- Gathering witness statements;
- Accessing cell phone records through the discovery process, which can be used to show that the negligent driver was talking on the phone, texting, on social media, or otherwise using their phone at the time of the accident;
- Collecting evidence, such as videos or photographs of the scene; and/or
- Working with expert witnesses, such as an accident reconstruction expert, who may be able to testify that distracted driving was the cause of the collision.
In some cases, the at-fault driver may admit to being distracted while behind the wheel. Your attorney will use these types of statements and other evidence to prove that the other driver was distracted – and to get you maximum compensation for your injuries.
Each distracted driving case is unique and may require different types of evidence to prove that the other driver was at fault. If you have been hurt in any type of accident, a Charleston, WV car accident attorney can help you get the money that you deserve for your losses.
The legal team of Johnstone & Gabhart has significant experience handling all types of auto accident claims, from drunk driving to truck accidents to distracted driving crashes. We take a hands-on approach to each case, using our extensive knowledge of the law, trial expertise, and practical skills to achieve the best possible result for our clients.
Our law firm handles all personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that you pay nothing upfront, and you only pay a fee if we are able to settle your case or obtain a favorable verdict at trial. You don’t have to worry that you can’t afford legal representation – you can simply reach out to one of the best Charleston, WV distracted driving accident lawyers to schedule a free consultation.
Is Distracted Driving Illegal in West Virginia?
Yes. West Virginia law prohibits texting while driving, or otherwise using an electronic communications device while operating a motor vehicle. It is permissible to use a smartphone with hands-free equipment.
These laws are designed to protect drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and others who share West Virginia’s roads. If a driver violates the law, then they may be held responsible for any injuries that they cause. A skilled Charleston, WV distracted driving accident lawyer can help you get fair compensation for your injuries, starting with a free consultation.
What Is the Value of My WV Distracted Driving Case?
The value of any personal injury claim depends on a number of factors, including the nature and severity of your injuries, if liability is clear, and the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage. As a general rule, cases that involve serious or catastrophic injuries will have a higher value than a claim for a relatively minor injury, such as broken bones.
During a free consultation with a WV distracted driving accident attorney, you can learn more about your legal rights and options for pursuing a claim. Your lawyer may also give you a ballpark estimate of what your case is worth. As your case progresses, this number may change.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Minor Distracted Driving Accident?
Yes. Insurance companies are in the business of making money – not giving you a fair settlement. Even if an insurance adjuster tells you that they accept full responsibility for the crash, you should consult with a West Virginia car accident attorney before giving a statement or signing any paperwork.
Studies show that people with legal representation receive significantly higher settlements than people who represent themselves. A lawyer with extensive accident experience will fight for your rights and help you get the highest possible recovery for your losses.
Hurt by a Distracted Driver? We Are Here for You.
Traffic accidents can happen in a blink of an eye – and affect you for a lifetime. If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover financial compensation for your injuries. Our law firm can help.
Based in Charleston, Johnstone & Gabhart represents injury victims throughout the state of West Virginia. We are fierce advocates for our clients, working hard to help them get maximum compensation for their losses. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation with a Charleston, WV distracted driving lawyer, give our law office a call at 304-343-7100 or fill out our online contact form.