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Can a Distracted Driver Get Compensation For an Accident?

Home > Blog > Can a Distracted Driver Get Compensation For an Accident?

Distracted driving is all too common today and results in over two crashes every hour in South Carolina alone. Distracted driving can cause major damage to both you and your vehicle. These damages range from mild, such as a dented fender, to severe, including devastating injuries. As a result, seeking damages from the distracted driver following an auto accident is an essential step to help you heal and get back to your life. The distracted driving accident lawyers at HawkLaw P.A. will help you hold those drivers responsible for their actions and fight for the compensation you rightfully deserve.

What Are Some Examples of Distracted Driving Behaviors?

There are numerous examples of distracted driving, and all can lead to accidents. They may involve visual distractions, like applying lipstick or makeup while driving. They can also be manual driver’s distractions where the driver reaches for something or, for some other reason, removes their hands from the steering wheel. Cognitive or mental distractions can also lead to auto accidents.

Anything that causes a driver to stop thinking about the road, even for a brief moment, can be considered distracted driving.

Specific examples of behaviors resulting in distracted driving include:

  •     Drinking or Eating
  •     Making a phone call
  •     Taking a picture or video
  •     Texting while driving
  •     Posting to social media
  •     Setting GPS or other navigational aid
  •     Applying makeup
  •     Changing clothes
  •     Searching for something in the car
  •     Scrolling through listening options (e.g., music, podcasts, eBooks)
  •     Reprimanding children in the car
  •     Interacting with passengers

Anytime a driver diverts attention away from the task of driving, distraction occurs.

What are the Consequences of Distracted Driving?

The consequences of distracted driving can be numerous. Accidents can result due to a failure to stop, causing the occupied driver to rear-end another vehicle. They can also cause a failure to see and heed stop signs, yield signs, and traffic lights. Drivers may cross the center line or fail to stay in their own lane.  A loss of control of the vehicle can also occur.

Such drivers can cause severe physical, mental, and emotional injury to others as well as extensive property damage. Accidents involving these drivers can also lead to fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA reported that there were over 3,000 deaths due to distracted drivers in the year 2020 alone.

Accidents involving these drivers, also referred to as negligent drivers, result due to the failure to meet a required standard of care. As a result, victims can bring a lawsuit against a negligent driver, including ones involving wrongful death.

Can I Sue a Distracted Driver in South Carolina?

Following a motor vehicle accident, seeking damages can be an essential step in order to recover for a resident of South Carolina.

South Carolina drivers must follow all driving laws, and each one owes a duty of care and responsibility to others on the road. If distracted, the driver cannot meet these obligations, and if an accident occurs, you can sue.

A lawsuit begins first with proving negligence on the part of another driver. Distracted driving is a type of negligence, and South Carolina utilizes the modified comparative negligence law.

Under this modified comparative negligence law, victims of accidents resulting from a driver that is distracted can file a personal injury claim as long as their responsibility for the accident is less than 51%. If you are responsible for any part of the accident, this will also be taken into consideration and will reduce the damages amount that the at-fault driver will have to pay.

Types of Compensation for Distracted Driving

After establishing the occurrence of negligence, your next step will be to determine the amount of damages resulting from the accident. The different types of awardable compensation potentially available to you after getting hit by a driver that is distracted include:

Pain and Suffering

Physical, mental, and emotional pain and suffering are not easily defined in terms of monetary figures; however, you can receive damages by the court for these.

Lost Wages

Accident victims often require considerable time off from their jobs. As a result, you can seek compensation matching your regular pay or wages, as well as payment for any vacation or sick days you use as you recover. Employment benefits and bonus pay may also be available.

Medical Expenses

Experiencing pain after a car accident can manifest in a number of ways, either immediately following the accident or in the days after the crash. It is essential then to seek medical assistance as soon as possible. You may be suffering serious injuries such as a traumatic brain injury or internal trauma.

If found to be negligent, the distracted driver may be held liable for the medical expenses you incur due to the car accident. These medical bills may include ambulance transportation, emergency room fees, hospital stays, physical therapy, rehabilitation services, and follow-up medical appointments.

You may also be able to receive payment for out-of-pocket expenses relating to your injuries, like prescriptions, co-pays, medical equipment, or nursing care.  

Property Damage

You can also recoup property damages resulting from the crash, such as repairs and bodywork to your vehicle. When a car is totaled, the vehicle’s fair market value is recoupable.

Reimbursement for personal property destroyed or damaged during the accident may also be available, such as damage or loss of your laptop or cell phone.

While no amount of compensation can take away the pain or loss experienced in a distracted driver accident, it can help you move forward and alleviate any financial hardship you or your loved ones experience.

Should I Hire a Lawyer to Sue a Distracted Driver?

While many recoverable damages can come from filing personal injury insurance claims, you may not receive adequate compensation to fully cover everything. This situation is often the result of insurance companies offering lower settlements and one of the many reasons you should hire personal injury lawyers to sue a driver that is distracted.

The benefits of hiring a car accident attorney include:

  •     Efficient gathering of evidence for your injury case, including accident scene photos, any available video surveillance footage, cell phone records, police reports, and medical records.
  •     Meeting with witnesses and obtaining statements.
  •     Coordinating with experts, such as truck accident reconstructionists, medical personnel, and technology specialists.
  •     Negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf.
  •     Building your car accident case for the potential of having to go to court.

Car accident attorneys understand the legal process and know what it takes to prepare and win a distracted driving case. Many also provide free case evaluations.

They also understand the timeline for filing such a personal injury lawsuit. A variety of circumstances can affect that timeline, referred to as the statute of limitations, so consult with a lawyer as soon as possible to learn about your legal options. However, regardless of the date of the car crash, call and talk with a South Carolina car accident lawyer to determine if you are still eligible for filing a claim.

Get a Free Case Review for Your Distracted Driving Accident*

Do not pay a dime for an accident that was not your fault. To request a free consultation*, call 888-HAWKLAW or complete an online contact form to speak with experienced personal injury attorneys at HawkLaw today. Our law firm understands the dangers and consequences of distracted driving, and we want to help you get the compensation to which you are entitled.

John D. Hawkins

Founder and CEO

John Hawkins is the Founder and CEO of HawkLaw He has been licensed to practice law in South Carolina since his graduation with honors in 1994 from the University of South Carolina School of Law, where he was on the Law Review and Order of Wig and Robe.

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