In New York, distracted driving leads to many accidents every single year.
Distracted driving can be caused by a number of things, but, ultimately, it’s simply the driver not paying attention to the road, which causes an accident. These accidents, if you are involved, can lead to injuries. The question is, does a driver’s distraction impact your personal injury case?
Read on to find out all you need to know about distracted driving in New York and how it may change any personal injury lawsuit you file.
Distracted Driving: What is It?
Distracted driving takes place when someone operates a motor vehicle while doing something else that takes their attention away from safely navigating their surroundings. Many activities contribute to distracted driving, such as:
- Dealing with kids in the backseat
- Tuning the radio
- Looking at the scenery
- Using electronic devices, such as smartphones
These behaviors can all lead to the attention of the driver being pulled away from the road, increasing the risk of an accident. That’s why every driver on the road needs to be aware of this issue. Drivers need to keep acts that put them at liability for an accident to a minimum – if not eliminating them altogether.
New York Distracted Driving Law
The law in New York states that drivers cannot use handheld portable electronics, such as phones, while the vehicle is in motion. Illegal activities include things such as:
- Talking on your phone
- Playing games
- Sending emails
- Viewing or taking pictures
This law doesn’t apply to phones that are being used in hands-free mode.
Also, this law doesn’t apply in certain situations, such as calling an ambulance or the police, speaking to a firefighter, or calling your doctor in an emergency.
Drivers caught breaking the law will be fined up to $200 the first time and $250 the second time if it occurs within 18 months of the first. If you are caught for the third time or beyond that, then you can pay a fine of as much as $450 and have points placed against your license, which can end in a license suspension.
Should You Sue a Distracted Driver?
If you were in an accident that was caused by someone breaking the law or distracted, and you want to sue them, you first must consider whether your case meets the appropriate threshold under the law.
In New York, there is something called the “serious injury threshold.” The idea behind this is that, for minor injuries, car insurance will take care of the expenses related to the accident. However, those who have suffered non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering, cannot have their costs covered by insurance companies.
In accidents that were serious, policies may have limits that won’t cover all the damages. The serious injury threshold allows people to sue after an accident in exchange for personal injury protection insurance benefits. This helps to keep frivolous lawsuits out of New York courts.
In a case with a serious injury, the victim has to show they suffered losses over $50,000 – or that they have sustained an injury considered serious under the law in the state, such as permanent disfigurement, death, or the loss of a limb.
Distracted driving is a big issue, but if you were seriously injured by a distracted driver, then there may be more options available for you than you think.