Fargo Distracted Driving Car Accidents
Most of us are guilty of occasionally letting our minds or eyes wander while driving. There are often many things competing for our attention while we drive. Whether it be our phones, passengers, nearby pedestrians, or roadside accidents. Unfortunately, a driver who is distracted can cause significant property damage and devastating injury in the blink of an eye in a Fargo car accident.
When a negligent driver upends your life in a Fargo car accident, you have the right to seek compensation for costs like medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. To protect your ability to recover these losses, contact a Fargo car accident lawyer. Sand Law has successfully pursued damages on behalf of injured Fargo clients who’ve been involved in distracted driving auto accidents.
Distracted Driving Statistics in Fargo, North Dakota
Distracted driving is an issue across the country. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration reported that 3,124 people died in distracted driving accidents in 2020. In North Dakota, distracted driving is especially rampant.
According to a study based on NHTSA data, North Dakota is one of the worst states for distracted driving in the US. It ranks 7th in the nation for rates of distracted driving auto accidents. To reduce this concerning statistic, the state legislature and law enforcement have worked to enforce stricter laws concerning distracted driving.
In 2017, North Dakota expanded its legal definition of distracted driving to include “any distraction that impairs the ability to safely operate the vehicle”. The state has also created laws that fine drivers caught texting or using their phones to minimize North Dakota distracted driving.
Types of Distractions on Fargo Roads
When a driver’s attention is diverted from the road in front of them, a devastating auto accident can occur. That’s why Fargo drivers must be vigilant in observing their environment, including weather conditions, road hazards, and the movements of other road users. Distractions can take many forms. But they typically fall into one of the following categories.
Visual Distractions Can Lead to a Fargo Car Accident
A visual distraction is any disruption that causes a driver to take their eyes off the road. Their hands may still be on the wheel, and they may even be thinking about how they need to slow down for the upcoming school zone or yellow light. However, if their eyes are not actively scanning traffic for evolving conditions, they are at an increased risk of causing a car accident.
For example, let’s consider a common sight-based distraction known as rubbernecking. This term is typically used in reference to drivers who become distracted by a scene outside of their vehicle and slow traffic down. Oftentimes they are watching first responders assisting with a car crash through their windows or rearview mirror. Ironically, drivers who are busy rubbernecking can often end up causing an accident themselves. While it is natural to be curious, taking your eyes off the road is not worth jeopardizing your safety and the well-being of your fellow road users.
Hearing-Based Distractions May Cause Drivers to Endanger Others
In addition to visual distractions, Fargo drivers should be aware of the dangers of auditory distractions while driving. Loud music, shouting, train whistles, and other sudden and disruptive noises can cause a Fargo driver to become distracted from the traffic in front of them, resulting in a motor vehicle accident. For example, a driver may be startled by the sound of a car honking and let their foot off the brake, accidentally rear-ending the vehicle in front of them.
Fargo Drivers Should Avoid Manual Distractions to Reduce Car Accident Risk
While some drivers may assume it is harmless to engage their hands in other activities as long as their eyes remain on the road, this is not the case. When a driver’s hands or feet are occupied with a task other than steering and operating their car, we usually classify this as a manual distraction. This may look like reaching for the volume to turn up your favorite song, brushing your hair, unwrapping your drive-thru burger, or taking your foot off the brake to slip on your shoe. Keeping both hands on the wheel and a foot on the appropriate pedal makes it that much easier to react in a split second.
Cognitive Distractions Interfere With Driver Focus
Cognitive distractions refer to things that mentally distract you from the road. Driving often requires making quick judgments, such as Can I make that light? Is that pedestrian going to wait to cross the street? Am I going too fast? If your mind is engaged in daydreaming about a movie you watched last night or what you should have for dinner, you aren’t anticipating the actions of the other road users around you. That can result in you, your passengers, or nearby road users sustaining serious injuries.
Fargo Car Accidents Can Be Caused by Combined Distractions
As the name would suggest, a combined distraction involves two or more types of distracted driving. Texting while driving is a perfect example of a combined distraction. Taking your hands off the wheel while looking at a screen and composing a text engages your hands, eyes, and mind. Combined distractions such as this are generally considered the most dangerous form of distracted driving.
How Do Distractions Cause Car Accidents?
Distracted drivers can miss critical cues that lead to serious Fargo motor vehicle accidents. Dividing your attention from the road, even momentarily, leads to a delayed reaction time and diminishes awareness of your surroundings. For reference, in the time it takes to send a quick text or skip a few songs on your playlist, a car traveling at 55 mph can travel the equivalent of a football field.
While you’re busy looking at your phone, the car in front of you may suddenly slam on its brakes, a child may chase a ball out into the middle of the street, or a semi-truck may turn out in front of you. If you were cognitively, visually, and manually engaged, you would have a significantly better chance of being able to respond to events like this and avoid a serious auto accident.
However, if the road does not have your undivided attention, you will have less time to perceive and react to your environment. As Fargo personal injury attorneys, we have also seen the severity of a distracted driving car accident be compounded because an inattentive driver began speeding or swerving. If you have reason to believe that the driver who caused your injuries was distracted at the time of the accident, we encourage you to reach out to our Fargo office as soon as possible so we can begin working to demonstrate their negligence and recover the damages you deserve.
How to Prove Someone was Driving While Distracted
In a personal injury lawsuit, the burden of proof lies with the plaintiff, or the injured party accusing the defendant of negligence. The evidentiary standard for demonstrating negligence in civil court is lower than the standard for criminal court. In civil law, you only need to be able to convince the fact-finder that the events more likely than not transpired the way you claim.
Simply put, you and your Fargo car accident attorney must show that there is more than a 50% likelihood that the driver who hit you was behaving negligently because they were distracted. Your auto accident attorney may rely on traffic cameras, eyewitness testimony, phone records, and police reports to verify that the driver who hit you was indeed distracted at the time of the car crash.
After seeking medical treatment, we encourage you to document the scene of your accident as best you can. This includes taking pictures and videos from multiple angles, documenting your injuries, and collecting contact information from anyone who witnessed the car accident or may have caught a video of the crash. A Fargo car crash attorney can help you compile this evidence, as well as medical records and other documentation, into a compelling claim for damages in a distracted driving accident lawsuit.
Receiving Compensation for Injuries Because of a Driver’s Negligence
As previously stated, under North Dakota law, a distracted driver can be fined and young drivers may even receive points on their license for distracted driving. Beyond that, Fargo drivers can still face the consequences of negligent behavior in civil court if their distracted driving results in a car accident. If you have been injured in a Fargo car accident, you may be able to secure compensation for the physical, financial, and emotional damages you have sustained.
Damages in a Fargo Distracted Driving Car Accident Lawsuit
- Medical bills. Depending on the severity of your Fargo car accident injuries, you may require extensive treatment. This may involve surgery, a lengthy hospital stay, and other long-term expenses like medication, a wheelchair, and home renovations to accommodate your injury. Medical debt can accumulate quickly and have far-reaching financial implications for you and your family.
- Job-related losses. It is quite common to seek damages for lost wages after a serious distracted driving auto accident. Injured drivers may need to miss work in order to seek treatment or recuperate from their injuries. Unfortunately, some injuries permanently prevent an injured driver from returning to their career, or any job. Damages like the costs of job retraining, lost earning capacity, and permanent disability can potentially be recovered in a Fargo car accident lawsuit to alleviate some of that burden.
- Pain and suffering. This can refer to both physical and emotional pain endured as a result of your Fargo car accident injuries. It is difficult to quantify a subjective loss like this, but an experienced auto accident attorney will be able to help you calculate the value of this loss as well as other non-economic damages.
How Comparative Negligence Impacts Fargo Drivers
North Dakota operated under modified comparative negligence. In effect, that means that even if your actions partially contributed to the auto accident, you may still be able to recover a portion of the value of your damages. In North Dakota, you must have contributed significantly less than 50% of the fault in order to qualify.
For example, let’s say that a driver is distracted by a conversation with a passenger, leading them to run a red light, t-boning your car. However, it was raining at the time of the accident, and it is determined that had you had your headlights on, a collision could potentially have been avoided. Based on this determination, a judge assigns you 15% of the total fault for the car accident. The value of your settlement would be reduced by the corresponding percentage of fault, or 15% in this example. Our team of experienced distracting driving attorneys can help you maximize your damages in a North Dakota car accident lawsuit.
Sand Law is Here to Help. Contact us to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation
In the aftermath of a serious Fargo distracted driving car accident, you may be struggling to manage the stress of recovery, field calls from insurance claims adjusters and bill collectors, and keep your family financially afloat while you take time off from work. You don’t have to navigate this process alone. The North Dakota auto accident lawyers of Sand Law have been highly successful in recovering fair settlements for our injured clients, and you can trust us to do the same for you.
Our trial attorneys are prepared for every possibility when it comes to pursuing maximum compensation. If the negotiations with the insurance company don’t yield a fair settlement offer, we are fully capable of representing you in court to obtain the compensation you deserve.
Contact Sand Law online for a free case evaluation to discuss your legal options. Or call us at 701-609-1510. Our skilled team of distracted driving lawyers is well-versed in North Dakota law and ready to begin compiling a convincing claim for damages in a Fargo distracted driving car accident lawsuit.