We have all seen it, and perhaps even done it ourselves. Driving down the road with a cell phone in our hand. Indiana House Bill 1070 “Distracted Driving,”(read here) passed the House by a vote of 86-10 last week and has been referred to the Indiana Senate. This bill will make it illegal to have a cell phone or other “mobile device” in one’s hand while operating a motor vehicle in Indiana. It modifies the existing law which prohibits texting while driving to include all uses of a mobile device that are not hands free or voice activated. The current law which makes it “unlawful to type, transmit, or read e-mail or text messages on a communication device while driving in Indiana,” has been in effect since July 1, 2011, but has been ineffective in curbing the behavior. This is due primarily, because the existing law as written, is difficult to enforce. This new law could go a long way to prevent distracted driving, and potentially save lives, because it will allow officers to write tickets simply by seeing a person operating a vehicle with a device in their hand, and there will be no requirement that they prove that the operator was actually using the device.
The Indiana Department of Labor defines distracted driving as, “any non-driving activity a motorist engages in that has the potential to distract him or her from the primary task of driving. Stressful jobs, busy lifestyles and technology are just a few reasons why individuals may engage in distracted driving activities.” https://www.in.gov/dol/2873.htm
There Are Three Primary Types of Distracted Driving:
- Cognitive distraction takes your mind off the road.
- Visual distraction takes your eyes off the road.
- Manual distraction takes your hands off the wheel.
Texting, or otherwise using a device to search the internet, change a song, look up a contact, or like a Facebook post can be extremely dangerous because it involves all three types of distraction. Your mind is not focused on the road because you are concentrating on your device. Your eyes are also taken away from the road, as are your hands. As we all know, it only takes a second of distraction to cause a crash.
The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that in 2012, 3,328 people died in crashes linked to driver distraction, and more than 421,000 more people suffered a distracted driving-related injury. In fact, 17 percent of all crashes resulting in an injury involved driver distraction. More recent statistics indicate nine people are killed and more than 1,000 injured daily in accidents in which at least one driver was distracted.
- Nearly 4,000 people were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2015.
- Distracted driving was the reported cause of death of 3,450 people in 2016.
- An estimated 391,000 drivers were injured in distracted driving crashes in 2017.
- For comparison, there were 39,773 gun deaths in the United States in 2017.
- In 2019, distracted driving was a reported factor in 8.5% of fatal motor vehicle crashes. https://www.thezebra.com/distracted-driving-statistics/
If you support this Bill we would encourage you to contact your State Senator and request that they vote in favor of HB 1070, click here.
If you or a loved one have been injured or killed by a distracted driver, it is important to know your rights, and to preserve important evidence to support your claim. Call us for a free consultation.
Imagine. You have just been seriously injured and you’ve come home from the hospital, what is one of the first things you’re going to want to do? If you are like me, one of your first instincts will be to go on social media and let all your friends and family know that you are alright. I mean it would be the quickest and most efficient form of communication, why not take advantage of it? All you want to say is something similar to, “Hey everyone, I was in a car accident recently. It was a bit scary, but I just wanted to let everyone know that I’m – OK!”
Well if you’re planning on putting together a personal injury case to help compensate you for the damages to yourself and your vehicle, you may want to think twice before making that Facebook update, tweet, or Instagram post.
For example, if you plan on arguing that your life has been negatively impacted by the negligence of the other driver, that simple “I’m OK” post could hurt your case. To avoid having your case diminished by social media, here are some social media tips that will help you avoid a situation like that:
AVOID TALKING ABOUT YOUR INJURY
Just don’t post anything! Even if you don’t think you’ll pursue litigation, you never know if your circumstances will change as time progresses. Maybe you feel fine now, or even just a bit sore. But down the road, you find out that the car accident really did a number on your back, hips, and/or neck. You may even find out you need a surgery because of the accident. Pursuing litigation for those damages could help alleviate the financial burden of your medical bills, but those social media posts could prevent you from getting compensated fully.
AVOID TALKING ABOUT MEDICAL ISSUES
You are likely not a doctor. Let the medical professionals determine what your condition is. Tweeting out or posting what you think is wrong with you may be contrary to the medical facts. Let a jury hear from the experts and leave the diagnoses to the professionals.
AVOID TALKING BAD ABOUT THE PERSON OR COMPANY THAT HURT YOU
Yes, you were hurt, and it’s only natural you want to express your frustration to others. But try doing so in one-on-one conversations. Making an angry post about the person or company that hurt you could be seen as evidence that you are just trying to be vengeful towards them and may be asking for more than you need.
Easy Tricks to Protect Your Social Media Accounts
While you’re in the middle of a personal injury case, here are some tips you may want to consider:
- Turn off the location settings. Sometimes when you post something, it will automatically ping where you are and when you posted it.
- Turn off the ability for people to tag you in posts and photos.
- Make sure all your social media accounts are set to private.
- Tell friends and family to avoid talking about your case on social media.
- If you do accidentally make a post, don’t delete anything! You have a duty to not destroy any evidence – even bad evidence – that is out there. If the opposing side finds out that you tried to delete that photo or post, they could argue that you were trying to destroy evidence to hide the truth.
- Overall, the Golden Rule is: don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want the attorney for the insurance company talking about in an open courtroom full of strangers.
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At Goodin Abernathy, LLP, we realize the law can be confusing and difficult to navigate. We have been serving Indiana since 1984, with a strong and reliable focus on Personal Injury, Worker’s Compensation and Employment Law. Our team of Indianapolis attorneys is dedicated to providing premiere civil trial services for individuals and small businesses.
If you need assistance with any of these matters, call us for a FREE consultation.
Goodin Abernathy also offers all of these services, in Spanish, to the Indiana Latino community. Haga clic aquí para obtener más información sobre los servicios que brindamos a la comunidad latina de Indiana – Legalmente Hablando Indy.
Tis’ the season to be… CAUTIOUS! Well on the road that is. Not only does the weather get worse every holiday season around here, but also, many individuals think that it is okay to drink alcoholic beverages before getting on the road. Combine those two and you are practically guaranteed to see or worse experience an accident yourself!
Don’t Break the Law By Drinking and Driving
Beyond already breaking the law, there are some other consequences that people don’t think of till after they get in an accident. Such as, after their treatment at a hospital for drunk driving, the individual will learn that their vehicle has been impounded. That for sure will be more than a pretty penny to get it out of there, we can guarantee you that. There may also be additional charges if the accident caused property damage or injured someone. Then if attorneys, like us, get involved, the intoxicated driver will also have to pay for those property damages and medical bills of the injured.
That being said, it is better to prevent accidents before you start traveling during this holiday season. Believe it or not, the majority of car accidents occur close to the driver’s own homes. This is because individuals typically get over-confident when they’re almost home and think that they know their roads like the back of their hand. This makes them less observant than they normally would be. But let’s be honest, could anyone really describe every detail of their hand without looking at it?
Safety Tips for Your Holiday Travel
It is important to plan carefully before heading to a holiday event this season. Use these recommended safety tips to protect you and your family from an injury this holiday season.
Safety Tip 1: Maintain Your Vehicle
Make sure your vehicle is in good working condition during the winter by having a professional tune-up. Check your tires. If the tread is worn, have them replaced. Before you leave home, verify that you have enough fuel in the vehicle to cope with any detours that you might need to take.
Safety Tip 2: Understand Your Route
We know a lot of you rely on Siri, or your phone in general, to be able to get around anywhere. This is completely understandable but instead of plugging it in and going, try taking a few seconds before heading out to really understand how you are actually getting to your destination. By understanding your route, it will help prevent you from getting lost and allow you to focus on the road rather than your device.
Safety Tip 3: Plan For Extra Travel Time
Sometimes your map’s feature “estimated arrival time” can be a bit off. This is especially true during the holiday season. The roads are typically busier than normal, you never know when an accident may cause a huge traffic jam, and it is even more difficult to find a place to park.
So try leaving 10-15 minutes earlier than you normally would to avoid being late to your holiday events this season. But if you are a bit unlucky on the road and running a bit behind, remember it is better to arrive late at an event than driving too fast, getting in an accident, and instead arriving in the hospital.
Safety Tip 4: Use Your Safety Equipment
Holiday joy and excitement is in the air, which sometimes leads to you forgetting the small things. So make sure to turn on your vehicle’s headlights before dusk, so that other drivers can see you on the road. Keep warm clothes in the car in case of an emergency, and do the same for your passengers. A safe car is a happy car.
Safety Tip 5: Have a Designated Driver
When you travel to a holiday party with a group of friends, have a designated driver who won’t drink any alcoholic beverages. With this safety tip, you will have a sober individual to drive you home from the holiday event to avoid any accidents and get you home safely.
Safety Tip 6: Have a Plan B
Sometimes your Designated Driver forgets they are supposed to be the designated driver. In that event, have a Plan B for an alternate SOBER transportation. Today, it is easy to use a smartphone to contact a Lyft or Uber driver nearby and to take you and your friends home. Plus if you’re riding with others, share the costs through those apps, or others, like Venmo.
Safety Tip 6: Focus On the Road
While traveling throughout the holidays, make sure to focus on the road rather than trying to multi-task on your smartphone, talking to passengers, and listening to music. Instead designate a passenger to tell you where to go so that you can watch the road for any impaired drivers potentially swerving into the wrong lanes or those who are driving without any headlights.
Safety Tip 7: Remain Alert For Pedestrians
Remember that more individuals are also walking during the holiday season, so you must remain alert for pedestrians who are walking along the streets, sidewalks, or crossing a designated or undesignated part of the street. Keep in mind, some of these pedestrians may be inebriated and may not make the most sound decisions. Lastly, just because it is winter, does not mean that there are not still some bikers out there. Always keep a lookout for cyclists, and remember, give them 3 feet when you pass.
Call For Assistance
If you are injured in an accident caused by a drunk or impaired driver, contact an attorney right away for a free legal consultation.