Car accidents are complicated, especially those that happen while both vehicles are in motion. In many cases, there is a distinct difference between the stories told by both parties and it’s up to the police and investigators to sort out what really happened and who was truly in the wrong. The two stories might even be different simply because they were told from two different driver perspectives. Unfortunately, this isn’t the kind of issue you want to leave up to interpretation or chance. Because there are serious financial consequences that can result from car accidents, you need a team of experienced lawyers and investigators working on your side to assist in determining who caused the automobile accident.
What you remember about the accident
Experiencing a car wreck is almost universally an upsetting, nerve-wracking, and disorienting experience. Where one moment your car was going the speed and direction you intended, the next you’re jolted out of position, possibly into an even further dangerous situation, and stuck with a big vehicular mess. Because people are often confused about what happened just before and during a car wreck, investigators and the police try to rely on physical evidence like dents, scrapes, and tire skid marks but sometimes your memory is the best record of what actually happened.
Not all car accidents are “a blur” afterward and all too often, victims of car accidents see the whole thing coming even if they’re a little shaken up after the actual wreck. When someone merges into you on the freeway, pulls out of a driveway ahead of you without looking out for traffic, or is clearly swerving in the lane minutes before the crash, your account of the situation can clarify what forensics could not. And, unfortunately, many of these accidents are caused by something legally known as “Distracted Driving”
Texting and driving is illegal in Minnesota
For the law to stay relevant, it must adapt and the distracted driving law is clear evidence of that adaptation. Since the introduction of cellphones to the populace, we’ve seen a massive increase in collisions both big and small caused by people who weren’t looking at the road and only had one hand on the wheel. Instead, they were talking on the phone, texting a friend, composing an email, or browsing the internet while also trying (and failing) to drive. Distracted driving causes people to make turns and lane changes without looking, change speeds wildly without noticing, or drift dangerously out of their lane. Emotional distracted driving can even result in more abrupt and uncontrolled vehicular movements like lurching and swerving.
As the police dealt with more and more accidents from parking lot fender-benders to messy freeway collisions, it became obvious that the phones were the problem. Now, it is illegal to operate a cell phone or mobile device for anything other than dash-mounted voice control features and navigation apps. In fact, due to an increase in traffic light accidents, the phone law extends to texting while stopped at red lights as well. As a further precautionary measure, Minnesota also bans teenagers below the age of 18 from using mobile devices while in the car at all except to call 911 in an emergency.
Was the other driver texting?
Because it is now a known law, many Minnesota drivers today who have been in a car accident and were using their phones at the time are inclined to be deceptive. Sometimes they forget to mention they were texting but often it’s a “seemingly harmless” omission to avoid further consequences from having broken a law as well as hitting another vehicle. However, if you clearly remember or even think you remember seeing the other driver with phone in hand or looking away from the road to operate a device below the dash level, understand that it won’t just be your word against theirs. There are legal ways to determine if a phone was in use and what it was up to at the time of the crash and it might be in your best interest to legally pursue this evidence to defend yourself or get the medical compensation you need after the crash.
If you bring a lawsuit against the other driver, your lawyer can file a subpoena for their phone records to prove that text messages were sent from their phone near the time of the collision. These usually come not only with timestamps but GPS locations as well to prove, if in question, that the phone was both in the car and in use. It may even be possible to check for half-composed messages but this is less concrete. In fact, because browsing the internet and using apps that aren’t for navigation are also banned, you may be able to check the phone itself or other online app records to find proof that, if not texting or making calls, the other driver was still in violation of the distracted driving law.
Filing a lawsuit against a distracted driver
The situation is always a mess when two vehicles collide, even if it’s just a little scrape. However, everything becomes much more complex when there are injuries involved. If you have been injured in a vehicle collision with someone who was operating their cellphone instead of their vehicle, it’s entirely possible that their insurance will not cover your necessary medical expenses. If and when this happens, you may need to sue them for the difference so that you can get the treatment you need. To successfully sue for damages, you’ll be suing on the grounds of distracted driving. This will require both a skilled local lawyer experienced in vehicle accident cases and the concrete evidence they can help you provide like phone and app records. Armed with the right team and material, your case should be solid and your medical bills assured.
If you have recently been hit by a distracted driver and may need to sue for damages, contact us today. Our dedicated Duluth Car Accident Lawyer is committed to helping individual and families who are the victims of accidents get compensation through the legal system where insurance fails to come through.