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  • How Long Will my Case Take? Attorney Todd Henningsen discusses what factors affect how long a personal injury case may take.
  • Jury Trial vs. Settlement Mr. Henningsen talks about how a personal injury lawyer from the firm will be able to see whether or not taking the settlement would be the best option for you or if you should go to court.
  • Seeking Compensation Mr. Henningsen talks about seeking compensation if you have been involved in a personal injury related accident.
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Proving Driver Distraction in Car Accident Cases

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Proving Driver Distraction in Car Accident Cases

We have all seen it here on Atlanta roadways. You are driving down the road and there is a driver next to you that is talking on the phone or texting. They are weaving in and out of their lane, slowing traffic, not signaling if they are turning, and quite frankly they are oblivious to what is happening around them. Suddenly, the distracted driver swerves into your lane and causes a wreck. They put the phone away, get out of the car and immediately deny that they were distracted. In fact, they point the finger at you and say that you came out of your lane and caused the wreck.

How do you defend against this? What can you do? In the absence of any witnesses to establish what happened - and let's assume that you don't have a dash cam that captured the whole event - this is going to be a difficult case. When the police officer comes to the scene he has to determine who is telling the truth and who is not. He could ask to see the other driver's phone, but let's say that the guy was just reading a text, how do you prove he was distracted? There is no evidence that he was actually doing anything at the time of impact.

This is a common situation that even the best personal injury lawyers are confronted with on a daily basis. The simple fact is that it is very difficult to prove that the other driver was distracted at the time of the collision. A recent Associated Press article by Joan Lowy confirms what we personal injury attorneys have known all along - distracted driving is tough to prove! The article explains that many distracted driving deaths are underreported because of the difficulty in ascertaining the exact time of the crash, the difficulty in getting the cell phone records of the wrongdoer, and the police's lack of interest in investigating cell phone usage if there is another way the wreck could be explained.

Because distracted driving is tough to prove, the statistics are being underreported and people are all too quick to say that there is not a problem with distracted driving. It is our belief - albeit anecdotal - that a majority of accidents in Atlanta and throughout Georgia are caused by distracted driving. We may not be able to prove it every time, but it is certainly a major factor that in our practice as Personal Injury Lawyers.

As personal injury attorneys, we always want to understand how the wreck occurred, but if the wreck can be explained by another factor such as Following too Closely or Failure to Yield, that will give us enough liability to pursue the claim without having to drill deeper in to whether or not the other driver was distracted. Additionally, there is little incentive to prove that the other driver was distracted as Georgia Law does not currently allow for punitive damages against distracted drivers (although we are hopeful that we can get this changed). For more information on the law regarding distracted driving and punitive damages see our recent blog post.

On a recent case that we successfully settled, it was essential to our case that we prove that the other driver was distracted. In this case, our client was driving on a narrow roadway preparing to make a left turn. As our client was in the process of making his left turn, the other driver passed him on the left and the two vehicles collided. The other driver would not admit that she had done anything wrong and in fact denied that she was using her cell phone at the time of the collision. With this as the general facts, the insurance company for the other driver denied the claim.

Our client had contacted another attorney but the case was turned down because the other attorney did not think that he could prove who was at fault. We got involved in the case and filed a lawsuit. After obtaining the cell phone records of the other driver we felt confident that we could prove that she was on the phone, but we still had some doubts. We took the deposition of the other driver and after going through painstaking detail of the wreck and who she called, we were able to match this timeline with her cell phone records to establish that she was on the phone when the wreck occurred.

We presented our evidence to the other side and they quickly settled for the limits of the liability policy. While this was a case in which we were able to successfully prove that the other driver was distracted, had she just been looking at her phone and not actually talking on it at the time of the collision, this case could have turned out much differently for our client. Contact our firm if you would like to discuss a similar case with our competent lawyers.

Categories: Distracted Driving

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"Todd worked on my case non-stop for almost three years and reached a great settlement at the end. It was a complicated case (motorcycle accident) and he worked very hard on it . He carries himself very well and is very knowledgeable. He does his homework and research on your case down to the last detail. I would highly recommend this attorney for any personal injury case! Great honest man!!"

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