By now, everyone knows that texting and driving is a recipe for disaster. All the same, accidents continue to happen all over Michigan because a driver was paying more attention to their smartphone than the road.
The NHTSA reports that distracted driving led to over 26,000 fatalities across the nation between 2012 and 2019. In Michigan, the 2020 statistics are equally grim:
- 5.8% of Michigan crashes involved a distracted driver
- 5,560 injuries and 52 fatalities were caused by distracted driving
- Rear-end crashes accounted for 44.7% of distracted driving crashes
- 17% of the drivers using smartphones were 20 years of age or younger
If you are injured in a Michigan car accident because a driver was texting behind the wheel, you may be able to hold them accountable for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. In this blog, the auto accident lawyers at Conybeare Law Office explain your legal options after being injured in a texting and driving crash.
Michigan Laws on Texting and Driving
Michigan Vehicle Code § 257.602.b states that all drivers are prohibited from using a phone to read, manually type, or send a text message while operating a motor vehicle. There are only a handful of exceptions:
- You are reporting an accident, crime, medical emergency, or similar hazard
- You believe someone’s life is at risk
- You are carrying out official duties as a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency vehicle operator
If an accident occurs, you have to prove that the driver who hit you was using their phone at the time. A Michigan auto accident lawyer with experience in texting and driving injury cases can subpoena that driver’s phone records to show that they were texting or otherwise using their device at the time of impact, making them potentially liable for your damages.
Why Do People in Michigan Text and Drive?
With so much publicity surrounding the dangers, why do people persist in texting and driving? As it turns out, there are a number of reasons:
- Overconfidence: Since it only takes a couple of seconds to check a text message, many drivers aren’t concerned about taking their eyes off the road long enough to read or respond to a message.
- Habit: Some drivers are so used to checking incoming messages that they reach for their phones without thinking about it.
- Anxiety: Many people become anxious when they cannot use their smartphones for an extended period of time. Those who feel the need to check their phones frequently may decide that it is worth the risk associated with texting and driving.
- Work: A lot of texting and driving accidents happen during the morning rush hour. Although traffic congestion can play a role, it’s also likely that drivers are checking their phones for work-related messages.
Regardless of the reason, all it takes is a few seconds of distraction to cause a serious accident. Common injuries in Michigan texting and driving accidents include:
- Broken bones
- Cuts, bruises, and lacerations
- Burns (road rash)
- Internal bleeding and organ damage
- Spinal cord injury
- Traumatic brain injury
Some of these injuries can result in disability, which is why you should retain a Michigan car accident lawyer to pursue the compensation you need to cover your medical bills, ongoing treatment costs, wage replacement, and other expenses.
How Do You Know if Your Accident Was Caused by Distracted Driving?
It is not easy to determine whether a distracted driver caused your accident, but certain indicators point in that direction. For example:
- You or any bystanders actually saw the driver on their phone
- They are seen looking downward and not ahead while they drive
- If it was dark, you could see the driver’s face lit up by their phone
While phone records generally show whether the driver was using their device, these types of personal observations can make your claim for damages even stronger.
What Should You Do After a Crash Caused by Texting?
In the aftermath of any accident, you are likely in shock. Try to remain calm and take a moment to adjust to your surroundings. Protecting your health should always be your top priority, so once you’ve calmed down, check yourself for injuries. If you’re in pain or have visible injuries, call 911 to get the police and an ambulance to the scene as soon as possible. If you think you can safely move, exit your vehicle and move to a safe location.
If the texting driver stopped, get their insurance and driver’s license information, taking care to not admit or assign blame. If there were any witnesses to the collision, get their contact information so that your car accident lawyer can speak to them later. When the police arrive, get the names of the responding officers and ask them to send you a copy of their accident report.
If you’re not taken to the hospital by ambulance, go to the emergency room or your doctor as soon as possible to get checked out. Concussions, soft tissue injuries, and back injuries are all examples of injuries that may not show symptoms right away. Once a medical examination has confirmed that you’ve been hurt, notify your insurer and call a Michigan personal injury lawyer who can file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver.
Can You Sue a Texting Driver for Hitting You in Michigan?
In Michigan, anyone injured in a texting and driving accident can file a claim with their insurer for no-fault benefits. A no-fault claim covers some or all of your medical bills, lost income, and other economic expenses. Most crash victims can also seek non-economic damages from the at-fault driver, such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Compensation for Medical Bills
In the past, a crash victim in Michigan could not sue the at-fault driver for their future medical bills or for medical bills that exceeded their own insurance’s PIP (personal injury protection) coverage. However, the law changed in 2020, allowing you to sue if you don’t have unlimited no-fault medical coverage AND your medical bills exceed your policy’s coverage limits. During such an event, you may be able to sue the at-fault driver for “excess” medical benefits, i.e., money damages for the extent to which your medical bills exceed what your auto insurance policy covers.
Compensation for Pain and Suffering
In Michigan, a person who is at least 50% at fault for causing the crash can be sued for the injuries they caused. To receive compensation for pain and suffering, though, you must suffer what is called a ‘threshold injury.’ This injury must result in a serious impairment of body function, making it significant enough to change your ability to live your normal life.
In many cases, proving the validity of these claims to an auto insurer or jury requires experience and technical knowledge, including in instances of Michigan distracted driving. At Conybeare Law Office, we have been protecting the rights of injured clients since 1984, and we know how to present a strong case for the compensation you need to recover from your accident.
Get a Free Consultation From a Michigan Texting and Driving Accident Lawyer
Being hurt in an accident caused by another driver is hard enough; when that driver didn’t pay full attention to the road and put safety first, it is even more unacceptable, and they should be held accountable.
Have you or a loved one been involved in an accident caused by a distracted driver? Our firm’s texting and driving lawyers can explain your legal options, answer general questions about your potential case, and help you proceed with an insurance and personal injury claim. Call The Bear today at 269-769-BEAR or fill out this contact form to schedule your free consultation. Remember: if it’s not fair, call the Bear!
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