If you have ever tried to navigate one of the busier Brooklyn intersections by car, bike, or foot—think Grand Army Plaza, or the Flatbush Avenue/Atlantic Avenue intersection at the Barclays Center—you already have a sense of the extreme danger distracted drivers represent. A moment of inattention behind the wheel to send a text or gawk at the sights can all too easily lead to a car plowing into a pedestrian, knocking a cyclist flat, or ramming the vehicle in front of it.
Distracted driving accidents do not only happen at high-traffic Brooklyn intersections, of course. On virtually any street you cross or ride on in the borough, you face the risk of a driver losing focus and causing you serious, or even fatal injuries.
In this blog post, we take a deep dive into the epidemic of distracted driving accidents in Brooklyn, what you can do if you get hurt in one, and how an experienced distracted driving accident injury lawyer can help. To learn more about your rights in the wake of a Brooklyn distracted driving crash that left you or a loved one injured, contact an experienced attorney today.
Distracted Driving Accidents in Brooklyn by the Numbers
The NYPD collects extensive data on traffic accidents in all five boroughs of New York City.
Recent data on distracted driving-related accidents in Brooklyn tells a troubling tale:
- Driver distraction causes hundreds of accidents every month at Brooklyn intersections;
- In a recent year, patrol officers in Brooklyn issued more than a thousand summons just for moving violations involving cell phone use behind the wheel, which constitutes only one of the numerous ways drivers can become distracted and cause a collision;
- In one month, driver distraction accounted for 747 crashes in Brooklyn resulting in injuries or fatalities, making it far and away the most common contributing factor in harmful traffic accidents in the borough.
Perhaps more alarmingly, these statistics likely represent little more than the tip of the iceberg in terms of the overall number of distracted drivers on Brooklyn streets. Not all distracted driving accidents get reported to the NYPD, and the police cannot always identify the contributing factors in reported accidents.
In other words, by any measure, distracted driving constitutes a real, present, and persistent danger to pedestrians, cyclists, and other motorists in Brooklyn.
What Counts as Distracted Driving in Brooklyn
We mostly tend to think of distracted driving as using a cell phone or other handheld electronic device behind the wheel. That’s certainly one significant way that driver distraction occurs, but it is far from the only one.
Distracted driving in Brooklyn happens any time a driver’s:
- Hands leave the wheel (a manual distraction);
- Eyes leave the road ahead (a visual distraction); or
- Mind leaves the task of driving safely (a cognitive distraction).
In other words, distracted driving can consist of almost anything, including:
- Using a cell phone or other electronic device;
- Eating or drinking behind the wheel;
- Using a mirror to fix hair or makeup;
- Listening to loud music;
- Reaching for an item in another seat or on the floor;
- Talking to passengers, especially if it involves the driver turning their head or body; and
- Looking at something outside the vehicle other than the road ahead.
According to the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, just a second or two of manual, visual, or cognitive distraction vastly increases the risks of an accident. Distracted drivers have slowed reaction times, lose their situational awareness, and have trouble keeping their vehicle under control and in its lane.
Why do drivers lose their ability to drive safely when distracted? It has to do with the way the human brain works. In a study of brain activity in distracted drivers, scientists found that distractions diminish activity in areas of the brain that control visual and spatial awareness while increasing activity in brain areas that control problem-solving and other cognitive tasks. In effect, distractions shut off or impair the parts of the brain that need to stay active for drivers to stay safe and in control behind the wheel.
To put it another way, drivers lie to themselves and put others in danger by making the mistake of thinking they can multitask behind the wheel. Our brains simply do not function that way. Distracted drivers in Brooklyn who try to buck the fundamental limitations of the human brain risk causing accidents, and that is too often exactly what happens, with disastrous and deadly results.
Brooklyn Distracted Driving Accident Injuries
The harm inflicted by distracted driving accidents in Brooklyn takes a devastating toll. Fatalities rip loved ones from their families, depriving them of comfort and support. Injuries to Brooklyn distracted driving accident victims can interfere with virtually every aspect of their lives, keeping them out of school or work, saddling them with enormous medical bills, and causing them extreme physical and emotional pain.
Common injuries from distracted driving accidents include:
- Spinal cord injuries, common for pedestrians and cyclists knocked to the ground or thrown against a vehicle when a distracted driver runs into them;
- Traumatic brain injuries, also a common injury to cyclists and pedestrians hit by Brooklyn distracted drivers;
- Orthopedic and soft-tissue injuries to the neck, back, and shoulders, which frequently afflict occupants of vehicles rear-ended by a distracted driver in Brooklyn;
- Broken bones, typical of any motor vehicle accident, and especially one in which a distracted driver crashes while driving a high speed; and
- Internal injuries, which can inflict lifelong health complications, often the result of the violent force of the collision with a distracted driver.
Any injury suffered in a Brooklyn distracted driving accident has the potential to change the course of a victim’s life, or the lives of the victim’s family. Seeking the services of a skilled Brooklyn distracted driving accident injury lawyer can help victims and their families cope with, adapt to, and pay for those changes and challenges.
Accountability for Brooklyn Distracted Driving Accidents
New York law protects victims of Brooklyn distracted driving accidents by giving them the right to take legal action to seek damages for the harm they have suffered because of someone else’s dangerous decisions and actions.
With the help of an experienced Brooklyn distracted driving accident injury lawyer, victims and the families of those tragically killed in crashes may pursue compensation from, among others:
- Distracted drivers, whose bad choices behind the wheel lead to harmful and deadly accidents;
- Employers of distracted drivers who crash work vehicles, especially if employers knew or had reason to know their employee would drive distracted in Brooklyn;
- Passengers whose reckless actions in a vehicle cause driver distraction that leads to a crash;
- Tech, taxi, or ride-sharing companies whose product design or driver requirements create a distraction that heightens the risk of an accident; and
- Medical providers or pharmaceutical companies that prescribe or manufacture medications that impair drivers’ ability to focus or concentrate, without providing adequate warnings to drivers of those side effects.
As the list above suggests, experienced lawyers know that although the distracted driver often bears primary fault for causing a crash that injures or takes the life of a victim in Brooklyn, an investigation of the root causes of that distraction may reveal that others share the blame and deserve to pay.
Compensation for Brooklyn Distracted Driving Accidents
Holding the at-fault parties to account for a Brooklyn distracted driving accident typically means seeking money damages from them via a lawsuit. All Brooklyn distracted driving accidents and the injuries they inflict involve unique facts and circumstances that determine the types and amounts of money the law may allow victims or their families to recover.
Generally speaking, a Brooklyn distracted driving accident victim can often seek damages that include:
- Medical costs resulting from their distracted driving accident injuries, such as for emergency care, follow-up appointments, surgeries, medications, and physical therapy;
- Non-medical costs associated with the accident or injuries, including the cost of replacing damaged property or of hiring services to help with everyday tasks while the victim heals;
- Lost income attributed to the accident and the injuries it causes, such as the cost of burning through paid leave or vacation time, or of suffering a disability that keeps the victim out of work;
- Pain and suffering damages that aim to compensate for the physical and emotional harm done by distracted driving accident injuries, including harm to personal relationships and to the ability to enjoy life;
- Punitive damages, which a court may award if the distracted driver or others at fault for the accident acted extremely or outrageously.
No lawyer can guarantee that a lawsuit will result in money damages. However, victims of Brooklyn distracted driving accidents can put themselves in the best possible position to recover maximum compensation by retaining the services of a law firm with years of experience fighting for Brooklyn distracted driving accident victims, and with a successful track record in those cases.
After a Brooklyn Distracted Driving Accident, What Should I Do?
You cannot predict or plan for the harm you might suffer in a Brooklyn distracted driving accident. When an accident happens you have little choice but to deal with its aftermath on the fly.
Still, it can help to keep some general principles in mind if the worst does happen. Following two general tips if a Brooklyn distracted driving accident injures you or a loved one can go a long way toward protecting your well-being and legal rights.
Seek Immediate Medical Care
Some Brooklyn distracted driving accidents cause such serious injuries that victims have no choice but to seek immediate emergency medical care. Other accidents might seem minor at first, and victims might not even realize they have suffered injuries. After those seemingly-minor crashes, it might be tempting to brush yourself off and get on with your life, assuming you got lucky and that you do not need the expense or hassle of medical treatment.
Don’t give in to this temptation.
Immediately after any Brooklyn distracted driving accident, no matter how minor it seems, and no matter how “fine” you think you feel, go see a doctor and get a full physical exam as soon as possible. Tell the doctor what happened and about any pain you feel, no matter how insignificant. Sometimes, major, even life-threatening injuries do not show serious symptoms right away. Internal bleeding and traumatic brain injuries, for example, may not cause you immediate discomfort, but could put your life and health at extreme risk if not treated right away.
In addition to protecting your physical and mental health, seeking immediate medical care after getting into a Brooklyn distracted driving accident also protects your legal and financial rights.
- First, it creates medical records that help to prove the connection between the accident and your injuries. Your lawyer will need those records if you decide to seek compensation.
- Second, it protects you against defense lawyers and insurance companies claiming that you did not take care of yourself and that you do not deserve compensation by proving that you did what you needed to do to get better.
Contact an Experienced Brooklyn Distracted Driving Accident Injury Lawyer
Once you have taken care of your immediate medical needs, contact an experienced Brooklyn attorney who represents victims of distracted driving accidents for a free consultation to learn about your rights.
Do not wait to take this important step. You may have an extremely limited amount of time to take legal action to seek compensation for your injuries and losses. If you wait too long, you may lose your rights and end up empty-handed.
Seeking legal help right away also puts you in the best possible position to obtain maximum payment from the parties who harmed you. An experienced lawyer can act quickly to secure and preserve important evidence, demand payment from the parties at-fault, and prepare a lawsuit, if necessary, to make sure you receive the justice and compensation you deserve.