Driving while distracted is a leading cause of motor vehicle accidents, resulting in thousands of fatalities annually. Even though this has been well-established over the years, far too many drivers allow themselves to become distracted behind the wheel, such as by using a cell phone, eating, drinking, or grooming themselves in the mirror. Every time they do, distracted drivers put themselves and everyone around them at heightened risk of injury or worse.
If you’ve been hurt by a driver who wasn’t paying the attention they should have, let a distracted driving accident lawyer help you seek financial recovery for your injuries and losses. Contact Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, for a free initial case evaluation to discuss your legal options.
Our hard-working advocates have dedicated their careers to pursuing justice for injured clients, including victims of distracted driving accidents. That commitment has helped us earn a reputation for maximizing compensation and helping accident victims get back on their feet. We’re ready to take on the at-fault driver and their insurance company for you — and at no upfront or out-of-pocket cost to you. Let’s get started today.
West Virginia Distracted Driving Laws
Under West Virginia’s distracted driving laws, motorists may not use stand-alone electronic devices or wireless telecommunication devices in any manner that would distract them from safely operating their vehicle. While driving on public roads or property open to the public for vehicular traffic, motorists may not:
- Physically hold or support a wireless communication device or stand-alone electronic device with any part of their body, except for a smartwatch.
- Write, read, or send any text-based communication, such as text messages, instant messages, emails, or social media posts. However, drivers may use a speech-to-text function to send text-based communications.
- Make a phone call, voice message, or one-way voice communication except through a voice-operated, hands-free function.
- Perform any data retrieval or communication with a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device.
- Enter text or symbols into any website, search engine, or mobile application.
- Watch a video or movie on a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device, other than watching navigation data.
- Record, send, broadcast, or post videos, except when using electronic devices designed to continuously record or broadcast video from within or outside the vehicle (e.g., dashcams).
- Actively play a game on a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device.
Violating the distracted driving law constitutes a misdemeanor offense. Penalties for conviction include:
- First Offense – Fine of up to $100
- Second Offense Within a 24-Month Period – Fine of up to $200
- Third or Subsequent Offense Within a 24-Month Period – Fine of up to $350, three points, and a potential license suspension of up to 90 days
In West Virginia, causing an accident that results in injury while violating the distracted driving law carries a penalty of up to 30 days in jail or a fine of $100 to $500. Causing an accident that results in severe injuries carries a penalty of up to 120 days in jail, a fine of $500 to $1,000, and a driver’s license suspension of one year. Finally, causing a fatal accident constitutes the offense of negligent homicide, which carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and a fine of $100 to $1,000, plus revocation of one’s driving privileges.
Distracted Driving Facts and Statistics
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of nine people die in traffic crashes caused by or involving a distracted driver nationwide every day. Furthermore, the West Virginia Department of Transportation reports that, over a five-year period, the state had 69 fatal distracted driving accidents. Behind these distracted driving statistics are real people who suffered real harm because other motorists didn’t take proper care.
There are three principal types of distracted driving:
- Manual distractions – These require a driver to take one or both hands off the steering wheel and gear lever.
- Visual distractions – These require a driver to take their eyes off the road.
- Mental distractions – These require a driver to take their mental focus off the task of driving and activity around the vehicle.
Distracted driving behaviors may involve one, two, or all three types of distractions. For example, daydreaming is a mental distraction, rubbernecking combines visual and mental distractions, and typing a text message on a cell phone involves manual, visual, and mental distractions.
In the time it takes a driver to read a text message while traveling at highway speeds, their vehicle will travel the length of a football field. Even brief distractions allow a car to travel for dozens or hundreds of yards with their drivers not entirely focused on driving.
Common Causes of Distracted Driving
Drivers face numerous potential distractions while behind the wheel. Some of the most common causes of distracted driving include:
- Holding and using a cell phone
- Adjusting the climate control or radio
- Using an infotainment/navigation system
- Eating or drinking
- Grooming or applying makeup
- Reading a map, newspaper, magazine, or book
- Watching a video on a tablet or laptop computer
- Staring at objects alongside the road
- Interacting with passengers or pets in the vehicle
- Reaching for an object
What To Do After a Car Accident
In the aftermath of a car accident caused by a distracted driver, you should remember to take steps to help protect your rights to pursue financial recovery in a distracted driving accident claim.
First, follow your doctor’s treatment plan and recovery instructions for the injuries you sustained in the crash. Remember to obtain copies of your medical records. Also, remember to keep copies of bills, invoices, or receipts for expenses you incur due to the accident, and to gather your pay stubs or income statements if you miss time from work or experience a reduction in your earnings. Request a copy of the police crash report if law enforcement responded to the accident scene.
Finally, contact a Morgantown car accident lawyer from Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, to discuss your options for seeking compensation and accountability from the at-fault distracted driver.
How To Prove the Other Driver Was Distracted
To establish that the other driver’s distraction ultimately caused the accident that injured you, you will need evidence to prove they weren’t paying enough attention to the road. Your distracted driving accident lawyer can gather evidence that might include:
- The driver’s cell phone logs, email records, and social media posts
- Witness testimony, including from other drivers who saw the person who hit you engage in distracted behaviors
- Surveillance or traffic camera footage that captures the driver engaging in distracted behaviors or other evidence of distraction, such as drifting out of their lane, failing to keep pace with traffic, or running red lights or stop signs
- Accident scene photos, including photos of food, drink, or electronic devices in the front seat of the other driver’s vehicle
- Logs from the other driver’s vehicle’s electronic control module and event data recorder (“black box”), if they have one
- Accident reconstruction reports that might indicate distracted driving, such as proof that the other driver never attempted to brake or swerve to avoid the accident
Compensation Available in a West Virginia Distracted Driving Accident Case
A West Virginia distracted driving accident claim can provide you with compensation for a range of losses related to the collision, including your:
- Medical treatment and rehabilitation, including emergency care, hospitalization, surgeries, prescriptions, orthopedic equipment, and physical therapy
- Long-term care and support, including home health services or installation of disability accommodations
- Lost income and future earning capacity after becoming temporarily or permanently disabled from your regular job or other kinds of work
- Pain and suffering
- Lost enjoyment or quality of life caused by disabilities or disfigurement/scarring that interferes with your daily activities
- Car repairs or reimbursement for the value of your totaled vehicle
Statute of Limitations for West Virginia Distracted Driving Accident Claims
Under West Virginia’s statute of limitations on accident claims, you typically have two years to file a lawsuit after a collision with a distracted driver. However, you should contact a distracted driving accident attorney immediately after a crash to ensure you can file your claim on time.
If you file a lawsuit after the limitations period expires on your distracted driving accident claim, the trial court can dismiss your case, and you might lose the opportunity to pursue financial recovery for your injuries and losses.
How Can an Attorney Help?
Few drivers will admit that they have caused a car crash due to distracted driving. You may need experienced legal counsel to help you hold a distracted driver accountable to compensate you for your injuries and losses. That’s where Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, comes in.
A distracted driving accident lawyer from our firm can help you pursue your legal claims by thoroughly investigating the crash to obtain evidence of the other driver’s fault. Your Morgantown personal injury lawyer can also document your injuries and losses, including estimated future expenses, to seek the full financial resources you need now and in the future. Finally, your attorney can help with your recovery by pursuing your insurance and legal claims on your behalf while you focus on your medical treatment and rehabilitation.
Contact Our Experienced Morgantown Distracted Driving Accident Lawyers Now
If a distracted driver hit you in Morgantown, WV, you may have the right to pursue financial recovery and accountability for the injuries and property damage they caused you. Contact Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, today for a free consultation. Learn how our distracted driving accident lawyers can vigorously advocate for your right to fair compensation for your medical bills, vehicle repairs, lost wages, and pain and suffering in a personal injury claim.