The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) suggests that distraction plays a role in a significant number of car accidents. Defining distraction as “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving,” the NHTSA suggest distraction is a factor in a combined total of 36 percent of accidents that result in injury or death.
If you or a loved one have been injured by a distracted driver, you need an experienced car accident attorney on your side as soon as possible. Tennessee personal injury attorney Herbert Thornbury can investigate your accident to see if distraction was a factor and is ready to take your case as far as necessary to get you every penny you are due.
If you live in Tennessee and are in need of an aggressive car accident lawyer, please call (423) 443-3973 to schedule a free consultation at our Chattanooga office.
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What is Distracted Driving?
Cellphone use is the most commonly cited form of distracted driving, and with good reason. Sending a text while driving creates a crash risk 23 times higher than paying attention to the road. This is why texting while driving is illegal in Tennessee. However, cellphone use is far from the only type of distraction that increases the risk of serious accidents.
Activities that can divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving and place everyone else on the road at risk include:
- Texting and Cell Phone Use
- Changing a radio station or CD
- Adjusting an MP3 player or GPS
- Eating or drinking
- Personal grooming
- Watching a video
- Reading billboards
Even daydreaming can be a cause of distraction and increase a person's risk for causing an accident. There is also evidence to show that utilziing hands-free systems while driivng is just as distracting as hand-held devices.
No matter what type of distraction leads to an injury, the responsible party must be held liable. Attorney Thornbury is prepared to hold all negligent parties accountable and fight tooth and nail for the justice you are due.
Is Distracted Driving a Problem in Tennessee?
Distracted driving is a factor in several car accidents every year. According to the National Safety Council, one out of every four accidents in the United States is caused by cellphone use alone, resulting in 136 million accidents and nearly 400,000 injuries. Nationally, around 3,000 deaths are caused by distracted driving yearly.
With an average of more than 400 deaths and nearly 30,000 accidents related to distraction every year, Tennessee once led the nation in distracted driving accidents per capita. This ranking has improved since the launching of stricter cellphone use laws.
Where Tennessee Stands in the Nation for Distracted Driving Deaths
In 2019, the last year for which full statistics are available, Tennessee ranked 15th in the nation for distracted driving fatalities. That year, our state saw 552 fatal distracted driving accidents, accounting for 7.95% of all fatal auto accidents.
What is a Car Accident Case Worth in Tennessee?
Each car accident is unique. Herbert Thornbury will fight to secure maximum compensation for things including medical expenses, wages lost during recovery and/or due to an inability to continue working, any necessary home modifications and adaptive technologies made necessary by your injury, and all related damages. He will also seek to secure compensation for emotional suffering, physical pain, and the long-term consequences brought about by your injury.
When you can make a claim for a Car Accident
Victims of car accidents are entitled to take legal action immediately following an accident. You have only one year following an accident to file suit, making swift action important.Insurance companies may encourage you to accept a settlement offer before you talk to a lawyer. This is never a good idea. Talking to an attorney before you accept a settlement helps to ensure you are not accepting less than you are entitled to.
Is Tennessee a No-fault State for Auto Accidents?
In a “no-fault” state, drivers are required to carry no-fault auto insurance, allowing them to seek compensation for injury in an accident regardless of fault. Only 12 states in the Union are no-fault states. Tennessee is not among them. In the state of Tennessee, the driver who is found to be most responsible for the accident is accountable for all damages.
The Tennessee Hands-Free Law
Hands-Free Tennessee (Public Chapter No. 412) states that it is illegal to hold a stand-alone electronic device, such as a cellphone or tablet, while driving. Sending text-based communications, watching a video, or even reaching for your cellphone can result in a ticket.
Hands-free alternatives, such as talk-to-text and voice-activated options remain legal in our state. However, according to studies conducted by AAA, hands-free devices may not actually be any safer than handheld alternatives. It is best to focus on the road and avoid using electronics altogether while your vehicle is in motion.
Is a Person at Fault for Using a Hands-Free Device to Record Video on Their Cellphone While Driving?
Hands-free does not mean distraction-free. If a person is recording a video and causes an accident, they can be held liable for any damages. Remember, cognitive and visual distractions are just as dangerous as manual distractions while driving. Anything at all that takes your eyes or mind off of the road places everyone at greater risk for injury.
Is It Legal for Someone to Use Their Cellphone While Driving in the Case of an Emergency?
In the state of Tennessee, it is legal to use a cellphone to contact emergency services such as the police, medical providers, and the fire department while driving so long as the use is necessitated by a legitimate emergency. All other use of a handheld device is prohibited.
Can I Recover Compensation Even if an Accident Was Partially My Fault?
Under modified comparative negligence, which Tennessee follows, you are entitled to compensation as long as you are less than 49% liable for an accident. Any driver found to be 50% or more liable for an accident waives their right to seek compensation through legal action.
Should I Talk to the Insurance Company Before Speaking With a Lawyer?
You must report your accident to your insurance company right away. This does not mean you have to take their offer. In fact, you should never accept an offer from an insurance company before you have spoken with an attorney. Once you accept an insurance offer, you can no longer file a lawsuit.
When you talk to your insurance company, do not suggest you are to blame for the accident. An investigation will need to be conducted to determine liability. Remember, even if you are partially to blame for an accident, you may still be entitled to compensation.
The Future of Distracted Driving Laws in Tennessee
Tennessee is committed to reducing the number of distracted driving accidents. State lawmakers continue to monitor our hands-free law to see what is working and where improvements need to be made. However, laws don’t always translate to responsible behavior.
Regardless of the law, there will be people who do not pay attention to the road. Some of those people will inevitably injure or kill others in distracted driving accidents. If you or someone you love is the victim of one of these accidents, you are entitled to hold them accountable for all of your damages, irrespective of criminal charges.