If you are injured by a distracted driver in Central New York, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. New York’s no-fault insurance laws allow you to seek reimbursement for your injury expenses regardless of who is at fault for the accident.
However, if your expenses exceed your no-fault insurance coverage, you may want to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver to recover additional damages. Hiring one of the Syracuse car accident lawyers at Catalano Law can increase your chances of receiving the financial compensation you deserve.
The NY Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR) reported 109 fatalities and over 41,600 injuries due to distracted driving accidents in 2019. Besides mobile device use, distracted driving can refer to doing the following while behind the wheel:
- Eating and drinking
- Applying makeup
- Checking or sending emails
- Placing a voice call
- Browsing social media
- Viewing a GPS
- Looking in the backseat
- Talking to passengers
- Changing the music
New York amended the Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1225(d) in 2011. The new version lists texting and driving as a primary offense and includes using hands-on mobile devices for other purposes like email or voice calls.
New York is a no-fault state, allowing you to file a claim with your auto insurance before filing against the other driver. Under your selected PIP benefits plan, you receive financial coverage for medical expenses, lost wages, and other reasonable costs relating to your injuries.
Even if you’re partially at fault for an accident, you can still try to recover damages under the state’s pure comparative negligence rule. However, the amount of your claim is reduced based on your percentage of accident liability.
If your PIP insurance doesn’t cover your accident expenses sufficiently, consult an auto accident attorney to file a claim against the negligent driver.
New York Vehicle & Traffic Law § 1212classifies distracted driving as a type of reckless driving, a misdemeanor offense. You can file a claim against a distracted driver for financial compensation if they injure you in an accident.
In New York, you can seek economic, non-economic, and punitive damages, depending on the severity of your injuries.
To sue for non-economic damages in New York, you either need to meet the serious injury threshold or have medical and lost wage expenses totaling more than $50,000.
Personal injury lawyers use the following methods to prove that a distracted driver’s negligence caused a vehicle crash.
- Cell phone records: The best way to prove distracted driving is to retrieve the driver’s cell phone records. Doing so can prove they were using their phone before the accident. This method requires a lawyer to subpoena the driver’s cell phone company.
- Vehicle metadata: If a driver got distracted by something in their vehicle, like a built-in GPS or Apple CarPlay, your lawyer could request vehicle metadata. Most newer vehicles contain infotainment systems that store driver interactions.
- Smartphone metadata: Your lawyer can also request access to the driver’s cell phone metadata. This data contains details about the location and use of the phone.
- Police reports: A police report completed at the accident scene offers official proof of damage and injuries that occurred due to the collision. Your attorney can request the police report from local authorities to obtain specific details about the placement of the vehicles, the weather conditions, and other potential contributing factors.
- Video footage: If your accident occurred on a busy metro street, there might be video footage of the event. A lawyer can search for dash cams, cell phone footage, security and traffic cameras and subpoena the video for proof.
- Witness testimony: Lawyers will also look for third-party, impartial witnesses to testify. Having unbiased accounts of what happened improves the credibility of your claim.
- Admission of fault: Your lawyer may work to obtain an admission of fault by the other driver. There may be a record of the driver making private or public statements that implicates their guilt. Potential sources include friends, family, co-workers, police reports, recorded messages from the insurance company, or social media.
If you’re in Syracuse, Albany, Ithaca, Elmira, Binghamton, Utica, or Watertown, schedule your free consultation with the personal injury attorneys at Catalano Law. We know how to prove negligence and build your case with over 50 years of combined experience and more than 12,000 cases.