Distracted driving has created problems since the invention of motor vehicles, but recent history has seen a drastic rise in distracted driving and associated accidents. This is largely a result of cell phones, but growing populations in cities and their suburbs also contribute to more distracted drivers on the road.
You might think you are safe in Manhattan because of all the people who walk and take the train. However, Manhattan still has heavy vehicle traffic, which also includes taxi drivers and rideshare drivers. Drivers who don’t pay attention to the task at hand put others at risk for severe accidents and injuries.
If you suffered injuries in a Manhattan distracted driving accident, you may seek compensation for damages from the driver who caused the accident that led to your injuries. An experienced Manhattan car accident attorney can guide you through the process of recovering compensation while you focus on healing and rehabilitation.
Until you have the chance to consult a lawyer, we provide this information about distracted driving accidents in Manhattan, the process of recovering damages, distracted driving injuries, and the steps you need to take to protect your accident injury claim after a distracted driving accident.
The Prevalence of Distracted Driving Accidents in Manhattan
The NYPD gathers traffic data from throughout the city to implement policies to make New York City’s roads safer for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. Unfortunately, distracted driving occurs far too often on Manhattan’s roads and sometimes results in dangerous and fatal crashes.
Recent traffic accident statistics about distracted driving accidents in Manhattan include:
- Distracted driving leads to thousands of traffic accidents each year at Manhattan intersections and on Manhattan’s few highways.
- In one month, almost 350 Manhattan traffic accidents that led to injuries or fatalities occurred due to distracted, sometimes referred to as inattentive, driving.
- In one calendar year, NYPD patrol officers in Manhattan issued more than 2,500 summonses for cell phone use while operating a vehicle, a common driving distraction for drivers of all ages.
The previous data only include information from the NYPD. They do not include all distracted driving accidents in Manhattan, suggesting the problem is worse than what the numbers show. Additionally, law enforcement cannot always identify every factor contributing to an accident, leaving out other accidents that distracted driving caused.
Defining Distracted Driving in Manhattan
The federal government and state governments have given so much attention to cell phone use and texting while driving that we often associate distracted driving with drivers using their cell phones behind the wheel. Yet, drivers succumb to a wide range of other distractions. Governmental agencies who study traffic accidents generally identify three driving distractions: manual, visual, and cognitive distractions.
Manual distraction refers to anything that causes a driver to take their hands away from the wheel. Visual distractions refer to activities that cause a driver to look away from the road. Cognitive distractions are anything that takes the mind away from driving. These classifications are not mutually exclusive; a distraction can fall under one or more categories. For example, texting and driving is a manual, visual, and cognitive distraction, making it a triple threat for others.
Other common driving distractions include:
- Eating or drinking behind the wheel
- Personal grooming
- Reaching for an item in the backseat or on the floor
- Tending to other passengers, especially in the backseat
- Arguing with others in the vehicle
- Concentrating on an event outside the vehicle
Injuries From Manhattan Distracted Driving Accidents
Fortunately, many people walk away from distracted driving accidents in Manhattan without injuries or with minor injuries. However, distracted driving can lead to treacherous and fatal accidents that devastate victims and their families. Severe accident injuries have physical, emotional, and financial consequences that seep into all aspects of a victim’s life. Some common injuries from distracted driving accidents include:
Distracted driving accidents can lead to multiple fractures and crushed bones that cause lifelong complications. Accident victims might need one or more reconstructive surgeries and sometimes still suffer pain and discomfort. Accident victims can also suffer other orthopedic injuries such as dislocations of their hips or shoulders. As harmless as a broken bone might sound, they are not always simple breaks that heal quickly with mobilization.
Head traumas from a distracted driving accident sometimes occur from direct contact to someone’s head or the indirect force of impact that causes the head to jolt back and forth. Severe head traumas can lead to scalp wounds, skull fractures, and dangerous, sometimes life-threatening, brain injuries. Depending on the severity and location of a brain injury, patients face potential struggles with memory, cognition, communication, emotions, behavior, and more.
Neck and Back Injuries
Car crashes, including those involving distracted drivers, often lead to neck and/or back injuries. Minor neck and back injuries typically include sprains, strains, and other soft tissue damage that often heals quickly. More severe soft tissue injuries might include a torn tendon, ligament, nerve damage, or muscle damage. In the worst-case scenarios, distracted driving accidents can lead to fractured vertebrae, herniated discs, and other serious spinal column injuries that require surgery and sometimes ongoing treatment.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries from a car, truck, or motorcycle crash are among the most costly of all accident injuries. Sometimes a piece of bone gets lodged in the spinal cord, or the accident leads to bruising, so any paralysis is temporary and will heal with time and/or surgery. Unfortunately, most spinal cord injuries cause permanent damage.
Spinal cord cells do not regenerate like other body cells. The extent of loss a drunk driving accident victim suffers depends on the exact location of the injury along the spinal column. Those injuries that occur closer to the head block more messages from the brain to the rest of the body, resulting in more paralysis. A spinal cord injury in the neck or upper back typically means tetraplegia, full-body paralysis from the neck down.
Seeking Compensation for Damages After a Manhattan Distracted Driving Accident
If a distracted driver causes an accident that leads to injuries, you have the legal right to sue the driver for damages related to the accident and your injuries. However, New York has a no-fault insurance system that requires drivers to carry a minimum of $50,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, so you must first exhaust your insurance options. Regardless of fault, anyone injured in a distracted driving accident must file an insurance claim under their own PIP policy. PIP coverage does not extend to motorcyclists, so they must file an insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s carrier and possibly a lawsuit to recover damages.
Drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists can collect benefits under PIP coverage. In New York, this includes coverage for reasonable medical expenses and up to $2,000 per month for lost wages from missing work. Accident injury victims can also collect up to $25 per day for other non-medical expenses related to the accident.
Severe accidents quickly meet or exceed the minimum $50,000 policy limit, and PIP benefits do not cover non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. Recovering additional compensation requires filing a claim against the at-fault driver and potentially bringing a Manhattan car accident lawsuit.
If you prevail in the insurance claim or a court rules in your favor, you might receive compensation for these damages related to your injuries:
- Medical treatment costs beyond what PIP covers, including expenses for hospitalization, surgery, doctor visits, diagnostic imaging, diagnostic testing, prescription medication, and travel expenses to and from the doctor/hospital
- Estimated future medical expenses when an accident victim needs ongoing care and treatment due to a permanent injury
- Rehabilitation costs for treatment with specialists who help accident victims physically and emotionally cope with their injuries, including physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and mental health professionals
- Lost wages not covered by the $2,000 per month PIP benefits
- Estimated future lost wages in the event of a catastrophic injury that prevents a return to work or future employment
- Home modification expenses for those who need to make their home more accessible by installing a wheelchair ramp, grab bars in the shower, handrails in the bathroom, or other items
- Domestic replacement expenses for outside help including cleaning service, snow removal, lawn care, or any labor you can no longer perform because of your injuries
- Pain and suffering
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of consortium with a spouse
- Scarring and disfigurement, especially common when traffic crashes result in burns or amputation
- Punitive damages if the court finds the distracted driver acted with gross negligence
Your Manhattan distracted driving accident lawyer can advise you on which damages apply to your particular situation.
Protecting Your Rights to Compensation After a Manhattan Distracted Driving Accident
In the minutes, hours, and days after a traffic crash, you will need to make several decisions, some of which will damage your ability to recover compensation. Whether you have already suffered injuries in a recent accident or you are seeking information for what to do in the future, it’s quite possible you were or will be unconscious after the impact of a crash. In these situations, you cannot physically carry out some immediate tasks. Regardless of when you are reading these tips, do the best you can or enlist a friend or family member to help.
Let a Physician Examine You
If you were not automatically transported to the nearest hospital in Manhattan via ambulance, you still need to let a doctor check you out. Some accident victims avoid immediate medical treatment because they only feel a little sore or simply want to avoid the inconvenience of going to an emergency room. Lack of pain does not automatically translate to lack of injury.
Accidents are traumatic events that often release adrenaline in the body, which can mask pain. Additionally, some internal injuries and brain injuries do not show symptoms for hours or longer. Seek medical treatment for your own health and well-being and ensure you have the medical documentation of your injuries that you need to support your claim against the distracted driver who caused the accident.
Gather Information and Keep Meticulous Records
If you are physically able, collect information at the accident scene. Get the name, contact information, and insurance information from the distracted driver and get contact information from any witnesses. Use your cell phone to take pictures of the property damage to all vehicles involved in the accident, the scene of the accident, the distracted driver’s license plates, and any visible injuries.
This gives you the information you need if the driver tries to leave the accident scene. If you cannot gather information, the NYPD will get it, and you can get a copy of the police report later on. Also, keep all medical bills and receipts for anything related to your accident and injuries, so have proof of economic loss to support your claim.
Consult an Experienced Manhattan Accident Injury Lawyer
Suffering injuries in a traffic accident creates ample stress for victims and families. Insurance companies are sometimes tricky when filing a claim because they want to find a reason to deny or devalue a claim. They often try to elicit statements of fault from victims or make lowball settlement offers to avoid financial liability for their policyholder’s actions.
An experienced accident injury attorney can guide you through the claims process and handle communication with the insurance company to protect you from saying anything that could hurt your claim. Additionally, your attorney can handle negotiations with the insurance company, advocating for you to get the maximum compensation commensurate with your injuries. If a settlement is not an option, your lawyer can fight for you in court to recover damages related to the accident and your injuries.