Distracted driving is doing anything that takes your attention away from the road while driving. Multitasking is a common example, as many drivers send text messages, talk on the phone, or even eat/drink at the wheel. Communicating with other passengers is another form of distraction, and children are four times more likely to distract drivers than adult passengers. Distracted driving causes approximately 20% of all car crashes.
There are 3 types of distracted driving: visual (taking your eyes off the road), manual (taking your hands off the steering wheel), and cognitive (allowing your thought focus to wander).
The Arizona Dept. of Transportation statistics for 2020 indicate 99,000 accidents, 910 fatalities and 28,610 injuries.
Many of these accidents are avoidable if all drivers stay focused on the road and other vehicles. Unfortunately, some still engage in distractions, such as using a cell phone, behind the wheel.
If you were in a car crash caused by a distracted driver, contact the car accident attorneys at the Jensen & Phelan Law Firm. Our attorneys can launch a thorough investigation and might be able to prove the other driver was using their cell phone or engaged in other distractions.
Arizona became one of the last states to ban texting while driving. On Jan. 1, 2021, HB 2318 went into effect, making texting and driving a civil penalty. The first violation may result in a fine between $75 and $149. Fines may increase for each subsequent violation. Like other states, Arizona drivers can still use their phones in a hands-free manner like talk-to-text or speakerphone. The only exception to this law is if drivers must make an emergency call to 911.
It is important to remember that you are not guaranteed compensation for being in a car accident. You must prove that the other driver’s negligence caused the crash and your injuries, harms and damages to secure a recovery. If you can show that the other driver was on a cell phone, a court or jury is much more likely to agree that that driver was negligent.
To prove the driver was distracted, there are a few things you should do at the accident scene (see our web site for a checklist). Our personal injury attorneys are likely to also be able to find more evidence proving your claim.
When you need to prove that another driver was using their cell phone, a police officer’s testimony may go a long way. Officers must complete police reports after a car accident in Arizona injury, death, or vehicle damage resulting in more than $1,000. That report will likely identify both parties involved and the officer’s initial thoughts. If you saw the other driver holding a cell phone, tell the officer immediately. Ask that this be included in the police report, but do not ask the officer to issue a citation (that is up to him/her). You can use both the report and any possible citations as evidence.
While you wait for police officers to arrive, you should speak to any witnesses. Ask if they may have seen the other driver using their cell phone right before causing the crash. Remember, witnesses have no legal obligation to remain at the accident scene, so talk to them before leaving. You will want to politely obtain their name, contact information, and if they are willing, a short written or recorded statement. If they are willing to stay, ask them to please tell the officer what they saw. Your car accident attorney may also call them later to get a more complete statement.
Cell phone records might show that a person was distracted by a call or text message. However, you will likely need to promptly file a subpoena to obtain these records. Filing and serving a subpoena is a complex legal process. One missed detail and a judge might prohibit you from using the evidence in court. The most straightforward way to ensure you receive security camera footage is to partner with an experienced Arizona car accident attorney. Dashcams and cell phone videos may also be helpful to your case.
If you believe that a driver distracted by their phone caused your car accident, contact the Jensen & Phelan Law Firm today. With over 40 years of experience and a proven success rate, you can be confident that we will do everything possible to reach a favorable outcome. To schedule a free consultation, call (928) 778-2660 or complete our contact form today.