St. Louis Distracted Driving Accident Lawyers
Driving a vehicle on busy and remote roadways alike can be dangerous. The weight and speed of cars in motion can cause devastating outcomes when an accident happens. When a driver is distracted, your risk of harm increases significantly, making driving both hazardous and deadly.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that one out of every ten fatal crashes involves at least one distracted driver. Even more so, NHTSA found that distracted driving causes 18% of all car injuries.
If you find yourself involved in a car accident resulting from another driver’s negligent or distracted driving, you should contact a personal injury law firm with experience handling car accident claims and civil litigation. The legal team at NST Law has years of experience fighting for victims after distracted driving accidents causing injuries and leading to other damages or losses.
We’re here to assist clients by informing them of their legal rights and exploring their best options to receive compensation to help with their recovery. With free initial case consultations, there is no risk in contacting NST Law. We will evaluate your case and provide you with appropriate legal advice to help you decide if we’re the right fit for you.
What is distracted driving?
Distracted driving includes any circumstance that causes the driver to take their eyes off the road, such as alcohol use, cell phone use, or even being distracted by other passengers. While Missouri doesn’t have an explicit definition for distracted driving, it has pointed to cell phone use while operating a car as one example of distracted driving in certain instances. Missouri Code defines distracted cell phone use as “operating a moving motor vehicle upon the highways of the state (while holding) a hand-held device…to send, read, or write a text message.”
Examples of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving presents itself in many different forms. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identify three main types of distracted driving, including:
- Visual distractions happening when the driver takes their eyes off the road and surrounding weather conditions
- Manual distractions occurring when drivers remove their hands from the steering wheel
- Cognitive distractions when the driver is looking at the road and has their hands on the wheel but is not focused on driving
Specific distractions belonging to each category include:
- Visual distractions:
- A simple act such as looking in the mirror to check makeup application
- Looking over at or turning around to look at passengers in the vehicle
- Using a navigation system to determine a route
- Manual distractions:
- Picking up a drink and consuming it, especially drunk driving
- Eating food
- Texting or otherwise fidgeting or using an electronic device: The CDC reports that sending or even reading a text while driving 55 miles per hour is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field while blind or with your eyes closed.
- Minding children or pets in the car
- Cognitive distractions:
- Getting lost in thoughts while driving or a general loss of the driver’s attention
- Starting to doze off or fall asleep due to fatigue
How common are distracted auto accidents in St. Louis, MO?
While the Missouri Department of Transportation hasn’t broken down distracted driving statistics specific to cities, the state is one of the most dangerous for auto accidents. Three years in a row, the state exceeded 900 deaths due to crashes. Distracted driving causes many of these deaths. Further, 70% of drivers in the state engaging in cell phone use while driving were over 21, showing it’s not just an issue among young people.
One example of a deadly car crash in St. Louis included two cars colliding after the first driver struck a guardrail before returning to the path of the second car. The suspected cause was distracted driving.
Why is distracted driving dangerous?
It only takes a fraction of a second for a distraction to become deadly. The National Safety Council (NSC) reported that distracted driving accidents kill over 4,000 Americans annually and severely injure 276,000 individuals. In addition, another 659,000 distracted driving accidents result in extensive property damage.
Distracted driving car accident injuries include:
- Whiplash: This neck injury commonly happens when a distracted driver looks down at an electronic device or turns around to give attention to a passenger, and the driver’s head isn’t positioned against the headrest as it should be. This movement can cause whiplash, which is the sudden and forceful movement of the head and neck due to collision or impact.
- Bone fractures: A bone fracture is a partial break or injury to a bone caused by trauma. When a driver’s hands and arms are not on the wheel, the likelihood of bone fractures happening increases.
- Spinal cord injury: This serious injury is most likely to occur when a driver rear-ends the car in front of them. This sudden jolt can cause severe damage to the sensitive nerves in someone’s spine. When this injury occurs, prompt medical care is necessary.
Missouri Distracted Driving Laws
Missouri statutory law bans some forms of distracted driving, so following them is essential to avoid breaking the law and to minimize the likelihood of an accident.
For example, Missouri statutory code forbids certain cell phone usage by any driver who is 21 or younger or operating a vehicle for commercial purposes while on a state highway. The statute strictly prohibits sending, reading, or writing a text or other electronic message. However, non-commercial underage drivers can still make or take phone calls. Additional exceptions for both commercial and non-commercial underage drivers include:
- Using a cell phone to operate a GPS
- Reporting illegal activity such as speeding
- Calling for medical help
How can you prove distracted driving?
Showing the other driver engaged in an activity serving as a distraction while driving is crucial because it demonstrates driver negligence and fault. You can meet this burden of proof by gathering needed evidence at the accident scene and after the accident. Examples of evidentiary support after a distracted driving car accident include:
- Cell phone records
- Social media activity
- Vehicle data showing unusual shifts in driving speeds
- Driver disciplinary history
- Witness statements
- Police report
The legal team at NST Law has years of experience handling distracted driving cases. We can help you compile evidence to support your claim and prove the other driver’s negligence to help you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries or damages.
How much is your case worth?
Determining how much financial compensation a victim can receive after a distracted driving accident is challenging, as several factors can influence the outcome, including:
- Whether the distracted driver was grossly negligent or simply reckless
- The severity of the injuries suffered, such as multiple surgeries, extensive rehabilitation, or temporary or permanent disability
- Any indirect costs encountered due to the car accident, including missed time from work, loss of income sources, or property damage
- The evidence in your favor
- Admissions of guilt
Additionally, the state where the accident happens can impact your case results, as that state’s laws will govern compensation based on who’s at fault. For example, in Missouri, personal injury cases are analyzed on a comparative fault basis, meaning that the amount of compensation an injured person can recover is dependent on your and the other driver’s percentage of fault. If the driver is 70% responsible for the accident, but you share 30% of the fault, and a court awards $10,000 in compensation, you can receive 70% or $7,000 for your injuries or damages, essentially reducing your award by 30% or $3,000, proportionate to your share of responsibility.
Damages You Can Recover After a Collision
The compensation received by distracted driving accident victims can vary, but generally, injured persons can recover the following financial losses and damages:
- Economic damages include past and future medical expenses, lost wages or loss of income, and property damage.
- Non-economic damages include losses that aren’t always easily calculable, including pain and suffering and mental anguish.
- Punitive damages are rare, but a court can impose them against the at-fault driver as a punishment to deter future wrong behavior in instances where they act especially egregious, such as drunk driving.
- If you lose a family member in a distracted driving accident, you can file a wrongful death suit and pursue compensation for funeral expenses, loss of support, and loss of consortium or the benefits of a familial relationship.
Contact the personal injury attorneys at NST Law today for a free case evaluation to ensure you have the best chance to receive fair compensation for all recoverable damages.
How long do I have to file my distracted driving car accident claim in St. Louis?
Missouri’s statute of limitations or time limit to file a lawsuit is five years for personal injury claims, including car accidents. The time begins to toll from the date of the accident, with few exceptions. If you don’t initiate legal action within the allotted five-year term, you forfeit your right to receive compensation for your injuries and other damages.
How can the personal injury attorneys at NST Law help you with your distracted driving case?
The attorneys at NST Law can assist with the legal process after a distracted driving accident, advocating for your best interests. We promise to provide you with a thorough case evaluation to determine the validity of your claim. We can calculate a fair value for your case, and we will negotiate with the insurance companies or represent you in the courtroom to get you the compensation you deserve.
Contact the St. Louis NST Law office today for a free initial consultation.