Can I Find Out if the Driver Who Hit Me Was Texting and Driving?
Aside driving under the influence, distracted driving is the number one killer on the nation’s roads, with texting being the most dangerous activity a driver can engage in while behind the wheel. Texting is particularly dangerous because it doesn’t only take your eyes off the road, but it also takes your hands off the wheel and your mind off the driving. Unfortunately, proving that a driver was using their cellphone at the moment of the collision is not that easy.
How Bad Is Distracted Driving?
In the United States, one in four people killed on the road lost their lives because of distracted driving. Unsurprisingly, more than 40% of teen drivers admitted that they use their handheld phones while driving for texting or emails.
More than 1,000 people are injured by a distracted driver every day in the U.S.A. alone, but the numbers might be even higher as not all distracted driving-related injuries are reported.
According to National Traffic Safety Administration experts, texting while driving is even riskier than drunk driving because it impairs the driver completely:
- Visually: The driver takes their eyes off the road when reading or writing a text message;
- Manually: The driver often takes one hand or both hands off the steering wheel and car controls when texting;
- Cognitively: The driver no longer pays attention to the road since their mind is focused entirely on their cell phone.
Many states have outlawed the use of handheld electronic devices behind the wheel, but distracted driving can be hard to prove.
How Can I Tell If the Other Driver was Texting and Driving?
There’s no easy answer to this question. If you have cooperative eyewitnesses or traffic footage to back up your claims, the case is as good as solved. But in most cases, traffic cameras fail to capture at-fault drivers while texting, while eyewitnesses rarely see the distracted driving engaging in an illegal activity.
What you could do to find out whether the other driver was texting at the moment of the crash includes:
- Asking for eyewitnesses to testify if they saw the at-fault driver texting moments before the accident
- Request copies of traffic footage from authorities (street corner cameras could capture the distracted driver in the act)
- Subpoena the at-fault driver’s phone records with their cell phone carrier (mobile network operators are not allowed to give you access to a person’s text messages but the law does allow them to give you a record of phone calls, text messages, and data usage with time stamps in order to help you solve your case).
- Subpoena the potentially distracted driver’s dashcam footage (this tactic is especially useful when involved in a car crash with a truck driver or other traffic participants that are legally mandated to have a dashcam in their vehicle.)
- Get the passengers in the other driver’s car to testify about what the driver was doing at the moment of the crash.
If you fail to prove that a driver was texting or using their mobile phone in any other way when driving, you might get your insurance claims denied or be unable to sue the driver for compensation for the resulting injuries and damages.
Why A Lawyer Can Come In Handy
While theoretically, you could do all the above things yourself, the other driver or their lawyer may try to sway your efforts to uncover the truth. That’s why, hiring a distracted driving accident attorney can boost your chances of success.
A specialized attorney can more easily get access to witnesses’ and other driver’s statements or to the police report documenting the incident. An attorney can easily get access to traffic footage on your behalf and later use it in trial, as well.
A lawyer also knows which expert witnesses to call on to testify in your case. An expert witness will be able to put all the pieces of the puzzle together and give the court a professional interpretation of the events and the evidence.
What’s more, because a trial is expensive and takes a lot of time (sometimes several years), a distracted driving accident attorney can help you reach a fair settlement with the other driver or their insurance company to cover car repairs, medical bills, and lost income.
Texting and driving can be one of the deadliest activities a driver can engage in while behind the wheel. But proving that the other driver was using their phone at the moment of the crash is easier said than done. In addition, relying on your car for getting around means more exposure to accident risk, and knowing an attorney you can rely on saves a lot of hassle.