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  • Writer's pictureLeitner Varughese Warywoda

What You Should Know About Distracted Driving Accident Lawsuits

If you or someone you love recently sustained injuries in a traffic collision caused by a distracted driver, you should be thinking about your options for obtaining financial compensation. In some cases, it may be relatively easy to prove that the other driver was distracted and thus at fault for the collision. Yet you should work with an auto accident lawyer from the start of your case because you may need to do more than merely prove fault to be eligible for compensation through a car accident lawsuit.

What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving can cause serious collisions in New York that ultimately lead to motor vehicle accident lawsuits. What is distracted driving? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving is “any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system—anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.”

Fault Might Seem Obvious in a Distracted Driving Collision

Under New York law, the use of any portable electronic device for reading or sending messages, accessing the internet, taking photographs, or receiving any type of electronic data is prohibited. Any kind of hand-held cell phone use for talking while driving is also prohibited by New York law. Accordingly, if you are injured in a collision caused by a distracted driver—especially if that driver receives a citation for unlawful use of a cell phone or other portable electronic device—you might assume that it will be relatively easy to prove fault. Indeed, it may be straightforward to show that the other driver is at fault. Yet under New York law, being able to show fault is not necessarily enough to make you eligible to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver.

Even if Other Driver is Clearly at Fault, You Need to Meet Serious Injury Threshold

Since New York is a no-fault state for auto insurance purposes, to seek compensation from an insurer for a personal injury, you must file a claim with your own auto insurer through your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. To be clear, under New York auto insurance law, if you want to file a claim against the other driver when your insurance payout is insufficient, it is not enough to show that the other driver was at fault. You must be able to prove that you have sustained a “serious injury” as New York law defines it. Once you can prove that you suffered a serious injury in the car accident caused by the distracted driver, then you have met the “serious injury threshold” that is required to file a motor vehicle crash claim in New York.

Contact a New York Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney

An experienced New York personal injury attorney can evaluate your case and help you to determine whether you have met the serious injury threshold required to file a car accident lawsuit against a distracted driver. Contact Leitner Varughese Warywoda PLLC today to learn more about how our firm can assist you.


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