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Distracted Driving Accidents in New York: Know Your Rights

November 10, 2023

Distracted Driving Accidents in New York: Know Your Rights

With the growing dependence on technology and the fast-paced nature of our daily lives, it’s no wonder that distracted driving has evolved into a significant concern on our roads. In the bustling state of New York, where both pedestrians and drivers constantly populate the streets, distracted driving accidents have become a grave issue. It’s crucial for victims of such accidents to be aware of their rights and the laws that protect them. In this detailed exploration, we, at Marvin A. Cooper, P.C., will guide you through the maze of New York laws concerning distracted driving and how you can seek justice.

Distracted Driving as a Growing Concern

In recent years, distracted driving has surged to the forefront of vehicular safety concerns, surpassing even driving under the influence in some statistics. The proliferation of smartphones, with their myriad of apps and notifications, coupled with other in-car distractions, has made our roads riskier than ever before. New York, with its dense population and frenetic pace, is particularly vulnerable to the repercussions of this dangerous behavior.

What Constitutes Distracted Driving in New York

The term ‘distracted driving’ isn’t limited to just texting or calling. In New York, it encompasses a broad range of activities that can divert attention from the primary task of driving. These include:

  • Electronic Devices: Using a smartphone, tablet, GPS system, or other electronic devices while driving.
  • Eating and Drinking: Consuming food or beverages can divert one’s attention, requiring drivers to take their hands off the wheel.
  • Other Passengers: Engaging in deep conversations or dealing with disruptions from passengers can distract a driver.
  • Adjusting Controls: Fiddling with the radio, adjusting climate controls, or any other in-car systems.
  • Daydreaming: Simply being lost in thought can be a major distraction, even if both hands are on the wheel.

These distractions can significantly reduce a driver’s reaction time, leading to severe accidents.

New York Laws on Distracted Driving

New York State has recognized the inherent dangers of distracted driving and has implemented strict laws to curtail it:

  • Cellphone Ban: All drivers are prohibited from using portable electronic devices. Illegal activities include holding a phone and talking, using the internet, texting, playing games, etc.
  • Penalties: For a first-time offense, drivers can expect a fine of up to $200. Subsequent offenses within 18 months can lead to increased fines. Additionally, violators receive penalty points on their driving record.
  • Hands-free Devices: Using a hands-free device is permitted. However, it’s essential to note that using a speakerphone or an earpiece is still considered “using the phone” if you’re holding the device.
  • Primary Enforcement Law: This allows law enforcement officers to stop and ticket drivers solely for the act of using a handheld device, without needing another violation as a reason to pull them over.

Legal Recourse for Victims

Distracted driving remains a perilous epidemic on New York’s streets and highways, with countless accidents attributed to this negligent behavior. For victims of such accidents, understanding their rights and available legal remedies is essential. At Marvin A. Cooper, P.C., we’re committed to helping victims navigate the complex legal aftermath of these distressing incidents. Let’s explore the legal recourse available to victims of distracted driving accidents in New York.

1. Personal Injury Claims

Most victims of distracted driving accidents will first look towards filing a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver:

  • Establishing Fault: To successfully claim compensation, victims need to prove the other driver was distracted and that this negligence directly caused the accident. Evidence can range from eyewitness accounts, police reports, traffic camera footage, and even cell phone records.
  • Types of Damages: Victims can seek compensation for various types of damages, including medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of wages, property damage, and other related costs.

2. Navigating New York’s No-Fault Insurance Laws

New York follows a no-fault auto insurance system, which means:

  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP): Regardless of who was at fault in the accident, your own auto insurance policy should provide compensation for certain out-of-pocket losses, such as medical expenses and lost wages, up to your policy’s limits.
  • Serious Injury Threshold: To step outside of the no-fault system and file a lawsuit against the distracted driver, victims must show that they’ve met New York’s “serious injury” threshold, which includes criteria like significant disfigurement, fracture, or permanent limitation of use of a body organ.

3. Wrongful Death Claims

If a distracted driving accident results in the tragic death of a loved one, family members may have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. This action aims to compensate for funeral expenses, lost earnings the deceased would have provided, medical costs, and the intangible loss suffered by family members.

4. Punitive Damages

In some cases where the distracted driving behavior is egregiously reckless, victims might be entitled to punitive damages. These aren’t meant to compensate victims but rather to punish the at-fault party and deter such behavior in the future.

5. Statute of Limitations

Remember, there’s a time limit to seek legal action. In New York, victims generally have three years from the date of the car accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. For wrongful death claims, the statute of limitations is typically two years from the date of death.

6. Consulting with an Attorney

Given the complexities and nuances of New York’s laws related to distracted driving accidents, consulting with an experienced attorney is crucial. They can guide victims through gathering evidence, understanding their rights, and pursuing the most favorable compensation.

Contact an Experienced Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer at Marvin A. Cooper, P.C. for a Free Consultation About Your Case Today

Distracted driving is not just a bad habit; it’s a dangerous behavior that jeopardizes everyone on the road. As New York continues to combat this issue, being informed of your rights is the first step in ensuring justice is served.

Have you or a loved one been impacted by a distracted driving accident in White Plains, Yonkers, Mt. Vernon, Port Chester, the Bronx, Westchester County, or anywhere else in New York State? Don’t navigate the complex legal waters alone. Let the experienced team at Marvin A. Cooper, P.C., guide you through the process and ensure your rights are protected. Contact us today.

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