Car accidents are frequently in the news these days, with daily incidents of side swipes, wrong-way drivers and rear-end collisions. According to a recent report, the rate of traffic fatalities in the United States is estimated to be the highest in 13 years, and experts suggest that the increase may be due to risky behaviors, such as distracted or impaired driving, speeding and driving without a seatbelt.
Even though fewer vehicles were on the road throughout 2020, fatalities surged when factoring in total vehicle miles travelled (VMT). An estimated 42,060 motor vehicle deaths occurred last year, up 8% from 2019. But when factoring in the VMT, the rate rose by a shocking 24%, marking the highest surge in fatalities ever recorded by the National Safety Council.
What distracted driving looks like
Anything that takes the driver’s eyes off the road or one or both bands off the wheel, even for a split second, is a distraction. This can include turning on the radio while driving, checking the GPS settings, looking in the rearview mirror while talking to someone in the backseat, eating a sandwich, checking or writing a text, or using a cell phone to make a call.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), when a driver reads a text while driving 55 miles per hour, it is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.
Proving negligence in an auto accident
Distracted driving is a form of negligence that, if proven, can create liability for the driver in question. A successful negligence suit must establish these elements:
- the injured party must show that the other driver had a duty of reasonable care to other drivers on the road,
- that there was a breach of that duty,
- that this breach was the proximate cause of the injuries to the plaintiff
Illinois recognizes contributory negligence in which the damages the plaintiff may recover diminishes in proportion to their percentage of fault. The plaintiff is also barred from recovery if they are more than 50% at fault.
For Chicago residents seeking compensation after a serious accident caused by the actions of a negligent driver, it is important to have the experienced and nuanced legal representation necessary to recover just compensation for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.