Vote for Judge Janet Protasiewicz for the Wisconsin Supreme Court on April 4th, 2023, to ensure the protection of all elderly Wisconsinites. Learn more and register to vote here.
Distracted driving is dangerous behavior and can even be fatal. In 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that over 3,000 people were killed by distracted driving.
Many states like Wisconsin have passed laws to ban or prevent distracted driving behaviors, like texting, making a call, or even using features in a vehicle like GPS. Even with these laws in place, distracted driving is still a problem. In 2015, there were over 24,000 motor vehicle crashes in Wisconsin attributed to distracted driving.
It’s important to know what to do if you’ve been involved in an accident involving a distracted driver, which is what the Boller & Vaughan team explain below. If you need further help understanding your legal options after an accident, call our Madison, Wisconsin, office at 608-268-0268 or contact us online.
The NHTSA defines distracted driving as “anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.” Distracted driving activities may fall under one of three categories.
These occur when a driver looks at anything other than the road. Visual distractions can include:
These occur when a driver takes one or both hands off the wheel. Manual distractions can include:
These occur when a driver’s mind is not focused on driving. Cognitive distractions can include:
These distracted driving behaviors are dangerous because they divert your attention from the road in an attempt to multitask and save time. Even though all of these activities can be called distracted driving, using a phone is one of the most prevalent and dangerous behaviors.
A car traveling at 55 miles per hour covers more than 80 feet per second. Texting takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. That means that the car will travel the length of a football field without any visual guidance, according to the NHTSA.
In Wisconsin, texting while driving is against the law for all drivers. The texting ban is a primary enforcement law, which means police officers can stop motorists suspected of texting and for no other reason. The only exception to the cell phone usage law is to report an emergency.
Drivers who violate this law may get a ticket for inattentive driving, a fine, and four points on their license. If a driver with a learner’s permit is caught texting, they may receive double the amount of points on their license, and may also have to wait six months to be eligible for a probationary license.
Because distracted driving laws vary by state, the ways in which police officers spot distracted driving may differ. Generally, law enforcement may look for “indicators” in order to stop a distracted driver. The NHTSA lists the following examples of distracted driving indicators:
With the exception of the last two indicators, all of these examples can relate to any distracted driving behavior previously listed, not just activities involving a cell phone.
If a police officer spots one or many of these indicators, they’ll need to thoroughly document what they observed. In the event of a crash, physical evidence will be collected and examined for signs of distracted driving. For example, phones or other distractions present in the vehicle like food, drinks, bags or even other passengers can indicate distracted driving.
If you’re hit by a distracted driver, the first thing you should do is call the police and request an ambulance so you can receive medical attention right away. Even if you or anyone else involved in the accident appears to be fine, it’s important to get checked for injuries that may not show up immediately. A medical report can also serve as evidence should you decide to file a lawsuit.
While waiting for the police and ambulance, gather information from the other parties involved in the accident and any witnesses present. Get information such as:
Don’t talk about the accident itself, offer explanations, or apologize. You may inadvertently assign blame to yourself if you do so. Take photos of your vehicle, the other vehicle, your injuries, the location of the accident, damaged objects like signs or guardrails, skid marks on the roads, and anything that may be helpful as evidence.
If you notice the other driver was driving distracted, make notes on your phone or on a notepad of their behaviors. Were they swerving, speeding, or making an illegal turn? Did they appear to be using their phone? Were their eyes off the road or hands off the wheel? This can help you prove your case.
You should also call your insurance company and report the accident. Be honest and accurate and stick to the facts. Avoid speaking to the insurance company representatives of the other drivers involved.
Finally, contact a car accident attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you figure out the next steps you should take to collect evidence and begin a claim.
A car accident, especially one that could have been avoided if someone wasn’t driving distracted, is a jarring and overwhelming experience. A personal injury lawyer who has experience navigating car accident lawsuits can help you understand your legal options and provide support to help you work through it.
If you or a loved one in Wisconsin has been involved in an accident caused by a distracted driver, contact the attorneys at Boller & Vaughan.
Call our Madison, Wisconsin, office free of charge at 608-268-0268 or fill out an online contact form. You may also like and follow our Facebook page for more Wisconsin legal resources.
As of 2019, the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCSC) estimates that the number of people with spinal cord injury (SCI) in the United States is around 291,000, but it may be as high […]
Even though Wisconsin and many other states in the U.S. have laws in place to prevent distracted driving, it is still a problem. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation reports a distracted driving crash happens somewhere […]
"*" indicates required fields
We live in Friendship, Wisconsin, and Boller & Vaughan came to our doorstep to discuss our mother’s wrongful death claim on a Saturday morning. Not only were we pleased with the large recovery, we were so thankful to have lawyers who were willing to explain to us every twist and turn along the way. It is great to know there is a law firm that will fight for the rights of elderly people all over Wisconsin.
Mr. Boller and Ms. Vaughan were incredible in working on my case and my daughter’s case. I was out of work and in the hospital with a new baby. Mr. Boller and Ms. Vaughan protected our rights and it was a pleasure to work with them. I hope never to be in another motor vehicle accident, however, if I am and I am injured, I will contact Boller & Vaughan immediately.
I was referred to Michelle through a friend. I have never had a better experience. It took a little over a year to get my settlement but the staff there stayed in constant contact and kept me in the loop. Oh, and Michelle actually got me MORE money than we discussed. I will refer anyone to this firm. Words cannot do justice the thanks that I have for Michelle and her staff (Mary especially) thank you guys so much!
After my husband died as a result of a motor vehicle accident, Boller & Vaughan spent countless hours talking with me, meeting with me in person, and making sure that I was okay. The drunk driver who hit us did not have any insurance, and we had to make a claim through our own insurance. Boller & Vaughan was fantastic at explaining the law to me and the handling of our claims.
After my son was injured in a daycare setting, Ms. Vaughan took the time to thoroughly investigate our case and my son’s injuries. Michele was approachable and had answers to our questions. Talking with her helped to relieve many of our anxieties.