When an accident occurs, we can’t be sure whether the other driver was distracted. This can make your claim case confusing and difficult to handle. Car accident attorneys at Dubo Law, Neil Dubovsky and Kelsey Shindle will closely investigate the case, handle legal concerns, and make sure to determine which party was negligent. Our winning team will help clients prove liability, protect the client’s rights, and make sure to win maximum compensation from the insurance companies. We have many years of experience in handling distracted driving cases, and we do it with empathy, honesty, and level-headed reason. Contact us at (443) 275-6345 for free case consultations.
What is Considered Distracted Driving?
Distracting driving has become even bigger cause of auto accidents that drunk driving. People don’t take it seriously and many of them even admit to being distracted while operating the vehicle. Distracted driving doesn’t only involve texting or speaking on cell phones, but changing radio stations, trying to reach for snacks or water, daydreaming, applying makeup, etc. We can say that distracted driving can be divided into four main categories and those being manual, visual, auditory, and cognitive.
Maryland law itself prohibits the use of mobile devices while driving and it passes on serious consequences and penalties. Also, driving while being distracted can lead to dangerous injuries for you, your passengers, other drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. Losing sight of the road even for a couple of seconds can cause a crash. By simply concentrating on safe driving and keeping your eyes on the road can save you and others from fatal accidents.
Distracted Driving Accident Statistics
We will look at data collected from 2017-2021 by Zero Deaths Maryland. The average of total crashes caused by distracted driving in 5 years period is 53,321. The total number of fatalities was 209 and total injuries number 24,345. In this five-year period, the number of crashes, injuries and property damage decreased, but drivers continued to allow themselves distractions while operating the vehicle. This remains one of the biggest traffic issues since nearly 50% of drivers admitted to engage in distracted driving no matter the consequences.
Distracted Driving Laws in Maryland
When it comes to Maryland law, it has a very clear point of view, restrictions, and penalties for those who cause an accident by distracted driving.
I. Maryland Statutes Transportation
Maryland Transportation Code Section 21-1124.1 states that writing, sending, or reading text messaging while driving is strictly against the law. If the driver is engaged in travel and the vehicle is in motion, texting and other distractions are forbidden. Maryland Transportation Code Section 21-1124.2 states that while operating the vehicle, driver is only allowed to use their hands for turning on and off the device or start and end a call. Nevertheless, drivers are allowed to use their phones for emergency calls such as 911, hospital, ambulance, law enforcement, firefighters, and first aid team. Also, for those who work at emergency facilities and as law enforcement officers this law doesn’t apply, but only while on duty.
II. Contributory Negligence
Maryland state rigorously follow this law which left many drivers without compensation. Contributory negligence advocates that if a person is even 1% at fault for their injuries, they won’t be allowed to seek any compensation for caused damages. For example, driver who hit you was on the phone at the moment of crash, but you didn’t stop at the right light on time, both of you will share the fault and handling the claim may be difficult. The best solution would be to contact an attorney who will introduce you to your rights and handle these legalities.
III. Jake’s Law
Distracted driving ended the life of an 11-year-old kid and the responsible driver only got to pay a $500 fine because of the law at the time. Today, Jake’s Law is in force and it states that a driver who caused serious injury or death while using the phone can be convicted to three years in prison or pay a fine of $5000.
IV. Statute of Limitations
Statute of Limitations marks a period during which a driver can file a claim for compensation for personal injury and property damage. The general rule in Maryland is three years from the day of an accident. In case the driver fails to meet the deadline, he/she won’t be entitled to seek compensation. There are few exceptions to this rule:
- Minors have time until they turn 21.
- Those who were mentally incapacitated at the time of an accident have time until they are mentally competent again.
- Wrongful death cases
V. Penalties for Distracted Driving in Maryland
Distracted driving is mostly considered a minor offense and at fault drivers only pay fines. Under Section 21-1124.2 mentioned above the penalties will be conducted as follows:
- First time offender – Maximum $75 fine and sometimes the court dismisses the penalty entirely.
- Second time offender – Results in maximum of $125
- Third time offender – Maximum $175 fine
Maryland Transportation Code Section 21-1124.3 is designed for severe distracted driving injuries or fatalities and it passes maximum 12 months in prison and $5,000 fine.
Types of Distracted Driving Accident
We already mentioned in the introduction that we can divide distractions in four main categories and those being:
Anything that takes your hands off the steering wheel is considered a manual distraction. Whether a driver tries to reach the phone, change music station, or even take a sip of coffee is a risk of causing the accident. If any unexpected obstacle happens on the road and you must make an instant action, you are slowing down the reaction time by manual distraction.
Includes anything that takes your eyes off the road. It can be anything from watching a fight on the street, seeing another accident, looking at the street sign, etc. If you allow your eyes to wander there is always the risk of causing a crash.
This a sound-based distraction and includes all the noises which stand in the way of driver’s ability to focus on the road. Auditory distractions may be phone ringing and notifications, listening to loud music, or an argument with or between other drivers on the road.
Cognitive distraction is the most dangerous one and very hard to define when an accident occurs. It concerns all the things crossing your mind and taking your thoughts away from the traffic. The mind of a driver may be flooded with information such as what is for dinner, some work issues, or simply daydreaming. Drivers should also avoid operating the vehicle if they are stressed, depressed, anxious, sad, or euphoric.
How Do We Recognize a Distracted Driver? Signs We Should Pay Attention To
If we are aware of the possible signs of a distracted driver, we can try to prevent an accident from happening. Also, if a crash happens anyway, it will be easier to determine the fault and get compensation claim. Some of the signs are:
- Spotting a driver who doesn’t look ahead on the road, but down on something
- When a driver stops longer than necessary at stop signs
- Tailgating the vehicle ahead
- Failure to keep lane position, driving between lanes, and changing lanes suddenly.
- Sudden speed increases and decreases
- Sudden braking
In case you come across a vehicle driven by distracted driver drive defensively, pull ahead, slow down and let them pass. Never engage in an argument and take matters in your own hands. The best possible solution would be to stop on the side of the road, call 911 and report unsafe driving.
What Is Our Responsibility?
This question imposes another question which is: What can we do to focus on the road instead of being distracted? Here are possible solutions:
- No phone rule while driving. You can put out the phone on the back seat and turn the sound off to avoid temptation.
- Reduce the number of passengers and activities in the vehicle.
- Don’t drive if you are drowsy!
- Avoid eating or drinking while in a moving vehicle.
- No multitasking!
Things To Do After Distracted Driving Accident
There are certain steps which a driver should follow being involved in a distracted driving crash. Of course, it all depends on the seriousness and injuries that occurred in an accident. We will list some of the most common actions which should be taken right after the crash.
- Try to stay still and check for possible injuries to both passengers and you.
- Move away from the road if possible.
- Call 911! In Maryland calling police officers is not mandatory and depends on the injuries and damages.
- Exchange personal, vehicle and insurance information with the other driver.
- Gather evidence from the scene.
- File the claim! This can be started right away, and you just need to hire an attorney.
Dream Team Baltimore Distracted Driving Accident Lawyers
Dubo Law, with Neil Dubovsky on top, is an award-winning personal injury law firm. Neil has been practicing law since 2002 and his experience is mainly based on general litigations, but especially personal injury claims. For many years Neil is committed to giving the best legal counsel and advice to those involved in vehicle accidents. When you or your loved ones are involved in a car collision the last thing needed is to deal with legal matters and insurance companies. It can be a very stressful experience, Dubo Law LLC team is here to consult you, prepare the case, negotiate, collect evidence, research, and anticipate legal risks. We approach our clients with great care, attention, and honesty.
“I want to thank Neil and the team at Dubo Law for the amazing job done to help me win my recent case. I would highly recommend Neil and his team to assist with your personal injury needs they were on top of their game from start to finish leaving no stone unturned to ensure a solid victory and judgment. Thanks again!”
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