Albuquerque Distracted Driving Accident Attorney
Albuquerque Attorneys Advising Victims of Car Crashes
Driving requires a person’s full attention, and anything that takes the driver’s attention away from the road, including texting, adjusting the radio or personal grooming, is considered distracted driving. A lack of attention to constantly fluctuating road and weather conditions creates an opportunity for a serious collision. If you have been injured in a car accident, you can seek guidance from the Albuquerque car accident lawyers at the Fine Law Firm.
Why Choose Us?
- We have a 99 percent case success rate, meaning we’ve recovered compensation for our clients through settlements or verdicts 99 percent of the time.
- Our attorneys can tackle even the most complicated auto accident cases. We prepare each case as if it will go to trial to achieve the best possible results.
- Our distracted driving accident lawyers operate on a contingency fee basis. This means you won’t pay us out of pocket, whether we win or lose your case.
How a Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer Can Help You
Hiring an attorney to represent you during a distracted driving accident case can allow you to focus your full attention on healing and getting your life back together while an experienced and licensed professional handles the legal side of your case for you. Your lawyer will choose the most effective legal strategy for your case and goals. Then, your lawyer will do what it takes to fight for the best possible outcome against a distracted driver’s insurance company.
A car accident attorney in Albuquerque will have the knowledge and resources to build a compelling claim to financial compensation on your behalf. An attorney can thoroughly investigate the car crash, search for and gather evidence against a distracted driver, access the other driver’s cell phone records, obtain copies of police reports, and negotiate for maximum compensation with an insurance company – all while you heal, rest and relax.
What Is the Definition of Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is the act of multitasking while operating a motor vehicle. Safe multitasking behind the wheel is a myth. It is not possible to dedicate enough attention to the road and the driving task while you are also doing something else. A driver risks the lives of those around him or her when the driver drives distracted. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that in 2019 alone, 3,142 lives were lost because of distracted drivers.
The most common types of driver distractions include:
- Using a cell phone
- Texting and driving
- Eating or drinking
- Putting on makeup/personal grooming
- Taking care of children or pets
- Changing the radio station
- Looking at a map or GPS
- Driving while tired
A driver should pull over if he or she needs to perform any task while driving. Otherwise, multitasking will pull the driver’s attention away from the task at hand – possibly causing a car accident. There are three different types of driver distractions: manual, visual and cognitive. Essentially, a driver must keep his or her hands on the wheel, eyes on the road and mind on the driving task at all times. Texting and driving is especially dangerous, as it consists of all three types of driver distraction.
Common Injuries Caused by Distracted Drivers
Distracted driving car accidents are often described as severe or catastrophic, meaning they inflict life-changing injuries on victims. This is because a driver who is distracted or not paying attention may not hit the brakes at all before the time of impact. This can lead to high-speed collisions and other types of dangerous car accidents, such as head-on collisions or T-bone accidents. Distracted drivers are also more likely to strike vulnerable road users, such as bicyclists, pedestrians and children.
Common injuries associated with distracted driving car accidents in Albuquerque are:
- Broken bones
- Burn injuries
- Soft-tissue injuries
- Muscle and ligament damage
- Back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Traumatic amputations
- Temporary or permanent disability
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Fatal injuries
A serious injury from a distracted driving crash could cost thousands of dollars in medical care alone, including physical therapy and rehabilitation for a long-term injury. Even a minor injury could cost a significant amount of money in necessary medical care and lost wages – not to mention the emotional toll of being involved in a traumatic car accident. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with any type of injury connected to a distracted driver, the attorneys at The Fine Law Firm can help.
Is Distracted Driving Against the Law in New Mexico?
Due to the dangers of driving while distracted, many states have passed related laws to encourage drivers to pay attention to the road. Most of these laws focus on the risk of texting while driving. In New Mexico, Section 66-7-374 of the law states that no driver under the age of 18 may use personal wireless communications devices for any reason while driving, including for texts or phone calls.
If a driver is over the age of 18, it is only against the law to use a device to read, view, or manually type or send messages while driving. Calling someone or using hands-free mobile devices is not against the law for adult drivers. Aside from the cell phone law, New Mexico also makes it illegal to drive carelessly, heedlessly, or with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others. These acts are known as reckless driving (Section 66-8-113 of the New Mexico Statutes).
Any driver who does not give his or her full time and attention to the operation of a vehicle is guilty of careless driving, while driving in a manner as to endanger any person is reckless driving. Both are moving violations in New Mexico that can result in fines, driver’s license suspension and even jail time. If the distracted driver causes a car accident, he or she may also face civil consequences.
Holding a Distracted Driver Accountable for Damages
If you have been hurt because of a distracted driver, you can sue for compensation. You would need to establish the distracted driver’s duty to use reasonable care, a breach of that duty, causation, and damages. All drivers owe a duty to pay attention while they are driving in order to reduce the risk of harm to others. If they are doing something that diverts their attention away from the road and causes a crash, this is a breach of duty.
Moreover, it is illegal to send or view texts while driving in New Mexico. The only legitimate purpose for texting while driving is to contact emergency help. Because of the law banning texting while driving, a plaintiff may be able to use negligence per se to recover damages from a defendant who was texting while driving.
Negligence per se applies when a defendant violates a law designed to protect a class of which the plaintiff is a member, the violation causes an accident, and the law was designed to prevent the type of harm that results. This means that a defendant who is texting just before or during the time of an accident is automatically considered to have breached a duty to the plaintiff. If a defendant denies texting while driving, you may be able to access phone or Internet records in the course of a lawsuit to prove otherwise.
How to Prove Distracted Driving
As the injured party in a distracted driving car accident case, it is your responsibility to prove the grounds for your claim. The filing party (plaintiff) in a lawsuit has the burden of proof. In the civil justice system, this burden is a preponderance of the evidence, or clear and convincing evidence. In a criminal case, on the other hand, the burden of proof is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. If you believe that the other driver involved in your crash was driving while distracted, you or your lawyer will need to prove this claim using evidence.
Potential sources of evidence include:
- Police report. Always call the police after a car accident in Albuquerque so that you can get a police report. The police can investigate and may issue a ticket to the other driver if there is evidence of a broken law, such as texting while driving. You can then use this report as evidence during your injury claim.
- Eyewitness statements. There may be witnesses who saw the accident take place, as well as vehicle passengers. They may have seen something indicative of distracted driving, such as the driver looking down at a cell phone or not hitting the brakes before impact. Get the names and phone numbers of any eyewitnesses before you leave the scene of a crash.
- Cell phone records. If the accident involved cell phone use, accessing the other driver’s cell phone records with help from an attorney could prove that he or she was texting, taking a phone call or using a social media app at the time of the crash.
Other possible sources of evidence to support a distracted driving accident claim include an admission of guilt by the driver, photographs of the crash scene, video surveillance footage, expert witness testimony and accident reconstruction. An attorney in Albuquerque will conduct a comprehensive investigation of your automobile accident to search for evidence to use for your injury claim. A lawyer can obtain copies of important records, interview witnesses and conduct depositions.
What Compensation Is Available for a Distracted Driving Accident?
After a distracted driving accident, you are entitled to the full range of damages that would compensate you for your injuries. Damages are typically a mix of economic and noneconomic losses. Economic losses include concrete and often documented losses, such as out-of-pocket expenses, property damage, and medical bills. Noneconomic damages are the intangible losses caused by the car accident, such as physical pain and emotional distress.
The attorney you select can make a big difference to the noneconomic damages you are able to recover. These are damages that the jury believes naturally flow from the type of accident you were in. If a jury believes that you would likely suffer substantial pain and suffering as a result of your distracted driving accident, for example, you would be awarded greater noneconomic damages as compensation.
In all cases, however, you are expected to minimize your damages under a doctrine called “mitigation of damages.” A defendant faced with a large demand for economic damages may argue that you did not need all the treatment you received or that you waited so long to seek treatment that your injuries were worse than they would have been had you been treated right away. If the jury agrees that you did not mitigate your damages, you may not be able to recover the full amount.
What Is the Average Settlement for a Distracted Driving Accident?
There is no such thing as an average car accident settlement; every case is unique. In New Mexico, the value of a distracted driving accident case depends on its individual factors, such as the extent of the victim’s injuries, the price to repair property damage and the insurance coverage available. The best way to find out what your case might be worth is by consulting with an attorney. It is important to have your case reviewed by an attorney before accepting a settlement from an insurance provider, as the insurance company may try to convince you to settle for less than you deserve.
Is There a Time Limit on Your Ability to File a Car Accident Claim?
Yes. New Mexico has a time limit on all car accident cases filed in the state, known as a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations gives you no more than three years to file a personal injury claim and four years to file a property damage claim after a distracted driving accident. If you miss your deadline, the courts will most likely refuse to hear your case, regardless of any evidence that you have gathered against a distracted driver. This is why it is critical to speak to a car accident attorney in Albuquerque as soon as possible after your crash.
Seek Legal Guidance in Albuquerque After a Distracted Driver Accident
All drivers should be paying attention when on the road. Failure to pay attention for just a moment can have devastating consequences for someone else. After a motor vehicle collision, you can consult an experienced Albuquerque personal injury lawyer at the Fine Law Firm. You can set up a free consultation via our online form or by calling us at (505) 243-4541. The Fine Law Firm also represents injured people in Rio Rancho and elsewhere in New Mexico.