There were more than 24,000 crashes related to distracted driving in Wisconsin in 2015, the last year for which full traffic accident data is available. That’s one crash every 22 minutes stemming from someone texting or otherwise not focused on driving.
If you were hurt in a crash and you believe the driver who caused the wreck was distracted, the Madison personal injury attorneys at Boller & Vaughan are here to help. We have an extensive record of success in car accident cases, and we can help you recover the financial security you need to cope with your injuries and move forward with your life.
We offer free consultations to help you understand your options. Call 608-268-0268 today or tell us about the accident online to get started now.
Wisconsin Distracted Driving Laws
Distracted driving is any activity that diverts a driver’s attention from the road. Common distractions behind the wheel include texting or talking on a smartphone, eating, grooming, tuning the radio, or tending to children in the backseat.
Distracted driving accidents are different from other types of traffic accidents. When a driver is distracted, he or she is making a conscious choice that puts others at unnecessary risk for harm.
The use of phones while driving has proven a factor in an increasing number of accidents; texting is particularly dangerous because it requires you to divert your eyes from the road. Like most states, Wisconsin has passed laws to limit the use of cell phones and other hand-held devices.
Wisconsin law currently prohibits:
- All drivers from texting while driving
- Any driver with a probationary license or instruction permit from using a hand-held or hands-free cell phone while driving (except to report an emergency)
- All drivers from using a hand-held, mobile device when diving through a construction zone (except to report an emergency)
If you were hurt in a collision caused by a driver you suspect was distracted, it’s advisable to talk with an experienced personal injury lawyer. Claims in which distracted driving potentially played a role often require additional investigation to establish liability. In some cases, phone records may need to be obtained to establish what a driver was doing immediately before the crash.
Compensation for Wisconsin Injury Victims
Wisconsin is a tort state, which means at-fault drivers are responsible for covering accident victims’ economic losses (i.e., medical bills, property damage, etc.) as well as noneconomic damages like pain and suffering. This is why all Wisconsin drivers are required to have auto insurance. Insurance provides compensation that would otherwise be too expensive to pay out-of-pocket.
In Wisconsin, fault is assessed based on contributory negligence rules. Liability for an accident is assigned as a percentage, and as long as the victim’s fault doesn’t exceed 50 percent, he or she is able to collect compensation. In the event a crash victim is partially responsible for his or her injury, compensation is reduced by the fault amount assigned to the victim.
Compensation available to accident victims might include money for:
- Immediate and future medical treatment
- Lost earnings
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
If a loved one was killed in a distracted driving accident, our Madison personal injury lawyers may be able to help you and other surviving family members pursue compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit.
Teens and Distracted Driving Accidents
Young drivers are particularly susceptible to distraction. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drivers under the age of 20 have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes. Teen drivers are also less likely to wear their seat belts and more likely to drive intoxicated.
In addition to hurting yourself and others, the consequences of distracted driving may include:
- Traffic fines
- Four Wisconsin driver’s license demerit points; demerit points double for drivers with probationary/instructional licenses
- Increases to insurance premiums
- Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) restrictions
It’s important to talk with teen drivers about the potentially fatal risks of distracted driving. It’s estimated that a single text interrupts a driver’s focus for five seconds; that’s long enough to drive the length of a football field at 55 mph. A lot can happen in five seconds.
If you were injured in an accident caused by a distracted or otherwise negligent driver, please call Boller & Vaughan at 608-268-0268 or contact us online to arrange your free consultation. We welcome clients from the greater Madison area and across Wisconsin.