In the blink of an eye, your life could be permanently altered—even cut short—due to a driver neglecting their responsibilities on the road and driving distractedly. It’s dangerous, yet it happens all the time: a distracted driver crashes in Wisconsin every 22 minutes.
If you’ve been injured in a crash, you probably have lots of questions about distracted driving. So what is distracted driving, and what should you do if you’re injured in a crash? Keep reading to find out.
What is Distracted Driving in Wisconsin?
According to the Wisconsin DOT and state statute 346.89, distracted driving includes inattentive driving in general, meaning any activity “…that interferes or reasonably appears to interfere with the person’s ability to drive the vehicle safely.” Some specific examples include activities like:
- Texting while driving
- Using any hand-held device in work zones
- Using a device for visual entertainment
The law is vague and can encompass a wide number of tasks, but for good reason: distracted driving is dangerous.
The 3 Types of Distracted Driving in Wisconsin
The three main types of distracted driving in Wisconsin are manual distractions, cognitive distractions, and visual distractions. Every distracted driving crash falls into at least one category, but some fit into all three. Let’s take a look at how each might play out:
Manual distractions involve taking your hands off the steering wheel. This could be due things like adjusting the volume of the stereo, eating, or grabbing something in your vehicle.
The dangers of manual distractions are the same as many other categories we’ll discuss. When you’re manually distracted, your hands aren’t fully prepared for any surprises on the road, plus your attention is split between the road and whatever else you’re doing.
Additionally, if you are grabbing something else, you might inadvertently pull the wheel and swerve into another lane or off the road into a pedestrian area. That said, manual distractions are severely underestimated when it comes to the danger they pose.
When we think of distracted driving, most people don’t consider cognitive distractions, and that’s part of what makes them so dangerous. It’s easy for drivers to assume that they’re fully attentive just because their eyes are on the road and their hands are on the wheel, but that still leaves room for the mind to drift.
If a driver is talking to a passenger, mentally preparing for a big meeting, or focusing their mind on any number of things other than the road, they’re more likely to crash. They could be inches from the tail of your car before they even realize what’s happening, but by then it’s far too late. Driving is a privilege, and drivers are expected to devote their full attention, both body and mind, to road safety.
Visual distractions are probably what come to mind when most people think of distracted driving. As humans, we rely on our sight to alert us to danger and identify physical threats. Therefore, it’s no surprise that when a person stops using their eyes to guide the 3,500-pound vehicle they’re traveling in, it creates a dangerous situation for everyone on and off the road.
In fact, even taking your eyes off the road for 5 seconds when driving at 55 miles per hour means you’ve traveled a full football field without seeing where you’re going. That means when you glance into the backseat, quickly check a text, or any number of things that feel quick, you’re actually covering a significant amount of distance in that time.
Visual distractions often occur in conjunction with manual or cognitive distractions, making them particularly dangerous.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help if You Were Injured by a Distracted Driver
If you were injured by a distracted driver, it can be a traumatic experience—a rupture in your way of life. After the crash and during your recovery, it can be incredibly taxing, both mentally and physically, to navigate the ensuing legal process.
By enlisting the help of an experienced personal injury attorney, you can relieve yourself of a significant portion of that burden, and rely on their expertise.
Proving distracted driving will be one of the hardest parts of the case, but a personal injury lawyer can locate evidence to demonstrate that distracted driving was a factor in the crash. Evidence a personal injury lawyer might pursue include:
- Video evidence from police and others
- Filing official requests for phone records of the distracted driver
- Photographs of the scene or other driver’s vehicle
Navigating the Legal Process
When it comes down to getting the compensation you truly deserve, there is a lot of legal complexity standing in your way. In early stages, there are questions about damages that are recoverable, medical care, lost income or vacation days, and what items need to be paid by who. Later, if there is litigation, there is the filing and serving of your lawsuit, subpoenaing evidence, and taking deposition and testimony. An experienced Wisconsin personal injury attorney will be an indispensable resource.
Your lawyer will help you understand the steps of your case, how decisions you make can impact your results, and what your rights are. In addition, they’ll be able to manage communications with predatory insurance companies that may be trying to quickly settle without paying the damages you’re entitled to.
Pasternak and Zirgibel Are Here to Help
If you’ve been injured in a car crash, there’s a chance distracted driving was a factor. But evidence must be obtained, and insurance companies won’t waste any time in seeking a low ball settlement, so don’t delay—contact Frank Pasternak and Jeff Zirgibel as soon as you can.
With over 50 years of combined experience, you can trust Pasternak and Zirgibel to work with you every step of the way to ensure you are up to date, informed, and prepared to provide testimony.
For personal injury lawyers who are determined to get you the compensation you truly deserve, contact Pasternak and Zirgibel today for a free consultation.