You’ve been involved in an auto accident. You are injured and your car is damaged. You know the driver was distracted at the time of the crash. But how do you prove it? Here’s what you need to know about how to prove a driver was distracted.
Many drivers involved in auto or vehicle accidents have reported that the driver responsible for the accident was distracted. Proving distraction in court or in mediation can be challenging if the driver denies it.
In 2018 nearly 13,000 people were injured by distracted drivers, and 131 people died in distracted driving crashes in Virginia. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 94 percent of crashes are caused by human error and result in people being hurt or killed.
Distracted driving is defined as doing one or more of the following:
- Using a cell phone (not hands-free)
- Using another electronic communication device
- Using another electronic device
- Eating or drinking
- Talking to passengers in the vehicle
- Adjusting the radio
- Being distracted by something outside the vehicle (an accident, other activities occurring in areas beside the roadway)
These distractions are of three types:
- Cognitive: something that occupies the driver’s mind other than driving.
- Visual: something that draws the driver’s eye away from the road.
- Manual: anything that requires use of the hands to do something other than steer and utilize vehicle control devices.
Proving Distracted Driving
Proving that the driver who caused a crash is not always easy. There are several ways to gather evidence and prove that the other driver was distracted.
- The other driver admits it. Despite reminders from attorneys, many people will admit fault or guilt after an auto accident. Despite that, however, the admission may not be admissible in court if it is considered hearsay evidence. Yet the admission may be useful if your case is being resolved out of court.
- Passengers in either vehicle involved in the crash or bystanders may tell police investigating the crash that a driver was distracted. If the case goes to trial, these witnesses can be subpoenaed to testify.
- Police Report or Officer Testimony. Police reports about the accident may provide details about the cause and circumstances of the crash. For this reason, it is important to inform the investigating officer if you saw distracted driving behavior immediately prior to the crash. Either the police report or the testimony of the officer can be introduced in court.
- Video or Photos. Cameras on police vehicles or on police uniforms may prove driver distraction. Sometimes passengers or bystanders take photos or video of a crash. In most areas today there is surveillance video that can be introduced as evidence.
- Cell Phone Records. Phone records may provide proof that the driver was texting or talking on the phone immediately prior to the crash.
- Expert Witnesses. Sometimes, your attorney may call an expert witness to interpret the available evidence and provide expert testimony that the other driver was distracted. Keep in mind, however, that the other driver may also call other experts to provide an opposing opinion.
If you or a passenger was seriously injured or if your vehicle was extensively damaged, you would be wise to engage the assistance of an experienced and trusted auto accident attorney. These attorneys understand the relevant rules of evidence and admissibility of evidence in trials. They know how to navigate the various sources of corroborating evidence. Above all, they have the needed experience in presenting and defending your case and winning for you the maximum appropriate financial compensation for your hurts and harms.
If you have been harmed by a distracted driver in Virginia, call Altizer Law, P.C., in Roanoke, VA. Bettina Altizer and her team of experienced experts have been representing people injured in auto accidents for more than 30 years. Their success has earned them the respect and trust of the community. When you have been hurt, they know that filing suit is about the money.