Distracted driving is a significant problem in Ohio and throughout the country. According to statistics from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, more than 13,000 crashes in 2019 were related to some form of driver distraction.
An accident can occur if the driver’s attention is drawn away from the road for less than a second. Given how quickly a distraction might come and go, you may wonder how you can prove that the driver who is at fault for the accident was negligent behind the wheel.
If you have been injured in a distracted driving accident, it is important to build a strong claim for the compensation you deserve. The following steps can help you hold the distracted driver accountable for your injuries in the crash.
1. Document the Accident
As with any car accident, it is crucial to gather evidence at the scene. Unless you require emergency medical treatment, you should take the following steps:
- Photograph the damage to the vehicles and their position in or on the side of the road
- Take pictures of skid marks on the road surface and debris from the accident
- Photograph the interior of the other driver’s car, especially any objects that may indicate the driver was distracted (ex: a cell phone, makeup, beverage cups, food packaging, etc.)
- Exchange information with the driver and get information for any and all passengers
Whether at the accident scene or after the fact, it is important to collect as much evidence as you can. You can continue assembling helpful information for your claim by starting a notebook where you can write down what you remember seeing and experiencing when the accident happened, as well as anything you remember after the fact.
2. Tell the Police What You Saw
In Ohio, a police officer is required to respond to any accident involving injury, fatality, or if property damage meets certain thresholds. If you are unsure, it is usually best to ask for the police to come to the scene.
The officer who investigates the accident will ask you to provide a statement. If you actually saw the other driver on the phone, eating, smoking, applying makeup, etc. just before the accident, you should share this when giving your statement. Also note any other behaviors you may have noticed from the other driver leading up to the accident, such as:
- Drifting from lane to lane
- Sudden corrections to avoid nearby cars and oncoming traffic
- Irregular speed
- Sudden stopping
- Running red lights and stop signs
Your statement will be part of the police report of the accident. Additionally, if the police officer determines that the at-fault driver committed a moving violation and was driving while distracted, the driver may be cited for a traffic offense. This will also likely be contained in the police report.
3. Speak to Witnesses
Many drivers are caught by surprise when a car accident occurs. You may not have seen the vehicle before it crashes into you, let alone noticed if the driver was texting or otherwise distracted.
Witness testimony is often crucial for determining why an accident occurred. If there are any bystanders at the scene or people arrive to offer assistance, ask them what they saw. Whether they saw the at-fault driver behaving erratically or engaging in some kind of distraction, this information could help strengthen your claim.
How a Lawyer Can Help with Your Distracted Driving Accident Claim
Your attorney’s first priority will be to investigate and gather evidence in support of your claim. Any information you can share from the scene, from photos you took to what witnesses told you, will be helpful in this process. Your lawyer will also obtain a copy of the police report.
Depending on the type of distracted driving involved in the accident, your lawyer may request the cell phone records for the at-fault driver. The cell phone provider will record the date and time of incoming and outgoing calls, as well as when text messages were sent and received. If cell phone use was a factor in your accident, these records can help prove that the driver was talking or texting in the moments before the crash.
Footage from traffic and surveillance cameras is another potential source of proof that the at-fault driver was distracted. During investigation of the scene, your lawyer will look for nearby cameras that may have captured the accident. Analysis of the footage may show the driver texting or talking on the phone, eating, putting on makeup, or doing something else that might have been a distraction.
Cell phone records and video footage are not freely available. Your lawyer will know the procedure for requesting or subpoenaing these records, as well as when to hire experts to help review and interpret them.
Contact Our Distracted Driving Accident Lawyers Today
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident with a distracted driver, you need an experienced attorney who will thoroughly investigate your claim and pursue maximum compensation on your behalf. Colombo Law has extensive experience holding careless drivers accountable for injuries sustained in distracted driving accidents.
Please call (614) 362-7000 today for a free consultation. Colombo Law serves clients in Columbus and nearby areas of Ohio, including Hebron, Newark, Circleville, Heath, and more.