Accidents Caused by Distracted Driving in Buffalo, NY
Distracted driving has become an inescapable traffic hazard in upstate New York, thanks to cellphones, in-car entertainment systems and many other potential distractions. In the four seconds a motorist spends looking at their phone or navigation system while driving 55 miles per hour, their car covers more than 100 yards of highway (the length of a football field). Because a distracted driver typically brakes too late or not at all, distracted driving accidents often cause extensive damage and catastrophic injuries or death.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Buffalo area car accident that may have been caused by a distracted driver, talk with a Buffalo car accident lawyer from Cantor, Wolff, Nicastro & Hall LLC to learn how we can help. You may be able to recover compensation for your medical bills, lost income, car repair expenses and more.
The attorneys of Cantor, Wolff, Nicastro & Hall have more than 100 years of combined experience and the knowledge and skills to fight for full compensation for you. No accident case is too big or too small for us to handle.
Distracted Driving Laws In New York
The federal government defines distracted driving as any activity that takes the driver’s attention away from the task of safe driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that using a cellphone while driving creates enormous potential for deaths and injuries on U.S. roads and that texting is the most alarming driver distraction commonly identified.
In New York, it is illegal to use a handheld cellphone or other portable electronic communication device while you drive. Illegal activities include holding the device and:
- talking on a phone
- writing, reading, sending or transmitting, accessing or retrieving, saving, or browsing information, such as email, texts, IMs or web pages
- viewing, taking or transmitting images with a camera, including a phone’s camera
- playing video games.
New York’s Stance on Texting While Driving
New York’s handheld phone law was the nation’s first statewide ban. Texting while driving became illegal in New York in 2009, and in 2011 it was made a primary offense. A driver can be ticketed for the offense itself instead of only if it causes an accident. Currently, 25 states and Washington, D.C., prohibit drivers from using handheld cellphones while driving and 48 states and Washington ban text messaging by all drivers.
If you are ticketed in New York, you can be fined $50 to $200 for a first offense, up to $250 for a second offense within 18 months or up to $450 for a third or subsequent offense within 18 months.
You’ll also get 5 points added to your driver’s license for each offense if found guilty. If you receive 11 points in an 18-month period, your driver’s license may be suspended.
However, using a cellphone is not the only cause of distracted driving. Other common causes of distracted driving accidents include:
- Eating / drinking
- Viewing maps, a GPS, or another navigation system
- Adjusting the radio or temperature controls
- Talking with passengers
- Dealing with pets.
Because many distracting activities are not illegal, it is up to every driver to minimize or avoid potential distractions.
A personal injury claim showing that a driver caused an accident while driving distracted does not depend on a ticket or conviction for distracted driving. An injured person can seek compensation if the driver’s negligence was the primary cause of the accident and injury, even if the distracted driver was not cited for breaking the law.
Proving That You Were Injured by a Distracted Driver
After you meet with a car accident injury lawyer from Cantor, Wolff, Nicastro & Hall, our investigators would work to find out what happened to cause your crash. After an accident, there are often telltale signs if the driver was distracted. These may include:
- Extensive vehicle damage and catastrophic injury, indicating lack of attention and failure to brake or swerve to avoid the crash
- Lack of skid marks, another indication of failure to brake
- Freshly spilled food and/or drink in the driver’s seat, indicating eating and/or drinking while driving
- A teenage or young adult driver, who is more likely to use a phone or other personal electronics while behind the wheel.
With a court order, we can obtain the suspected distracted driver’s:
- Cell phone records, which may show phone activity at the time of the crash
- Debit or credit card records, which may have time- and date-stamps indicating food or drink purchases immediately prior to the crash
- Car event data recorder (EDR), a “black box” device that records data from before the impact of a crash. The EDR download would show engine speed, changes in speed, use of brakes, steering trajectory, the number of impacts in the crash, and more.
In some cases, we hire accident reconstruction specialists, who use technical data such as the data from a black box recorder and their own forensic techniques to provide reports explaining how the accident occurred.
It is also possible that witness statements will tell us the driver was distracted, such as statements from passengers in the distracted driver’s car (who may have their own accident claims). After many accidents, witnesses and sometimes the at-fault driver will post incriminating statements on social media.
If you have been seriously injured in a car accident that may have been caused by distracted driving, we urge you to contact us as soon as you can so we can begin seeking evidence to support your claim.
Once you have engaged Cantor, Wolff, Nicastro & Hall to represent you, we can do the legal work necessary to have the other driver’s damaged vehicle, cellphone records and other evidence preserved. We can also manage all communications, negotiations and discussions with insurance companies so you can focus on healing instead of on the hassle of an insurance claim.
Recovering Compensation after a Distracted Driving Accident
In addition to investigating to determine how the accident occurred, we will document your costs and losses to calculate the compensation you deserve to recover. You may be entitled to claim compensation for:
- All medical expenses related to injuries suffered in the crash, from ambulance fees through hospitalization, surgery, rehabilitation, and counseling. We would also demand compensation for projected medical costs of delayed treatment or ongoing care and/or assistance required for a disabling injury.
- Lost income, including losses due to missed weeks of work and reduced earning capacity if you cannot return to work that pays what you earned before the accident.
- The cost to repair or replace your vehicle.
- Your physical and emotional pain and suffering.
Under New York’s no fault car insurance system, you would initially file a claim against your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance, which pays for medical bills, lost wages and certain other expenses related to car accident injuries, regardless of fault.
We would file a claim against the at-fault driver’s auto liability insurance if you suffered serious injuries in the accident. This would include the death of a loved one or you suffering a:
- Broken bone
- Non-permanent injury that prevented you from performing your typical daily responsibilities and routines for at least 90 days (three months)
- Significant disfigurement
- Dismemberment (loss of a limb)
- Permanent limitation of use of a body organ or member, or
- Significant limitation of use of a body function or system.
If your personal injury claim can go forward, we would present a demand letter to the at-fault driver’s auto liability insurer outlining our evidence and the compensation you deserve to recover.
Typically, a demand letter leads to negotiations and, eventually, a settlement offer. However, if the at-fault driver’s insurance refuses to agree to a reasonable settlement, our attorneys will be prepared to take your case to court and present your personal injury case to a New York jury.
Contact Our NY Distracted Driving Car Accident Lawyers
If you have been injured in a car accident in the Buffalo, NY, area that may have been caused by a distracted driver, call The Hurt Hotline today. The experienced Buffalo car accident lawyers at Cantor, Wolff, Nicastro & Hall LLC are committed to holding negligent drivers accountable for the harm they cause others. Our firm offers you the benefit of more than 100 years of combined experience and our dedication to seeking the maximum compensation available to you.
For a free assessment of your case and the legal options available to you, reach out online or phone (716) 559-9984. Our car accident attorneys are honored to serve the citizens of Buffalo. We are here to help. Please contact us today.