More likely than not, you have seen droves of people walking around with their cell phones held out in front of them. Most of them are not paying attention to their surroundings but rather their eyes are glued to the screen of their phones as they meander through public places, private areas, and busy streets. What are they doing? They are playing Pokémon Go.
If you have not yet heard of Pokémon Go, it is best described as location-based, augmented reality game where users collect digital creatures called Pokémon. After they collect the Pokémon, they can battle at “gyms” identifiable by a smartphone’s GPS system. The immense popularity of the game has spurred a host of legal problems, including trespass, privacy, and personal injury matters.
While game creators have expressed concern over player safety and have stated that players should be aware of their surroundings, in the limited time since the game was released, we have already seen many dangerous situations play out. In July a Texas driver crashed into a tree while actively playing Pokémon Go while driving his car. In Pennsylvania, a teen was hit by a car when she walked into a busy street without looking for oncoming traffic. She was distracted by the game. In Vermont, an alleged drunk driver caused a wreck while he was driving and playing the game.
California’s Distracted Driving Laws
Last year, we touched on distracted driving lawsuits in our blog. We have also visited the issue of what a person should do if he or she is involved in a car accident. To revisit the matter, the California of Office Safety provides the following statistics:
- 80% of vehicle crashes involve driver distraction
- Cell phones are the number one cause of driver distraction
- Texting takes your eyes off of the road for five seconds on average, which is about how long it takes a car travelling 55 mph to cross the length of a football field
In the state of California, a driver is not allowed to text or dial on his or her cell phone while driving unless the driver is utilizing the hands free, voice-operated function. The statute seems to narrowly define the activities prohibited and as such does not include language that might encompass Pokémon Go or other similar distractions. A traffic citation for distracted driving amounts to a ticket of $161. While to many, that chunk of change is significant, if you are involved in a vehicle accident due to someone’s distract driving, a traffic violation does nothing to remedy your situation.
If You are Injured by a Distracted Driver, You Will Need a San Diego Car Accident Attorney
If you are injured by a distracted driver, either because they are texting while driving or because they are trying to catch a Pikachu running down the streets of San Diego, you have legal remedies available to you. A traffic citation may only be a slap on the wrist, but a distracted driver is a negligent driver and an experienced personal injury lawyer will help you develop a negligence case against that driver. In order to prove that a driver was negligent and owes you compensation for harm caused, you must assert that the driver breached a duty he or she owed to you, and because of that breach and not other intervening factors, you suffered harm.
Injuries sustained in vehicle accidents are often times severe and can result in death. According to the California Office of Safety, up to 3,000 motorists are killed in accidents caused by distracted driving per year. A study released in 2014 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicated that over the course of a year, loss of productivity and life due to automobile crashes totaled $1 trillion.
If you are injured because of another driver’s negligence, you can recoup financial damages to help cover any expenses you have incurred due to the negligence. A San Diego personal injury attorney will help you figure out what you should ask for in your lawsuit and will also be able to act as your advocate in settlement negotiations. When you have suffered physical injuries, loss of income, loss of property and more, you need someone on your team who can help you navigate your way through the complex process of personal injury litigation.
What if Your Own Actions Contributed to the Distracted Driving Accident?
In the state of California, the courts will look at whether or not the injured party was also negligent, and will apply sophisticated calculations in reducing your claim to damages in proportion to your own negligence. Even if you feel as though you did act in a manner that contributed to the accident, you likely still have a case to recoup losses.
Many drivers, or the insurance companies defending their case, will argue that the victim’s own negligence played a part in the accident. You should never talk to the other party, their insurance representative or their attorney without talking first with an attorney that can act as your advocate. Insurance companies and attorneys representing the other party are skilled negotiators and may take advantage of victims who do not have legal representation.
Time is of the Essence in any Injury Lawsuit
One of the most important components of a personal injury lawsuit is making sure that you start gathering evidence and building your case as soon as possible. The more time that elapses, the greater the chance is that you are losing important pieces of evidence. For example, evidence relying on eyewitness reports becomes less clear as time passes. If you or a loved one is injured, or worse, in an accident arising from negligent driving, please contact the San Diego’s Injury Trial Lawyers today. We have extensive experience representing victims of car accidents and will zealously represent you in your injury case. Call San Diego’s Injury Trial Lawyers, APC today to request a free consultation.