Learn about your rights if you were injured by a distracted driver in Atlanta
Were you or a loved one the victim of a distracted driving accident in Georgia?
Get the help you need from the experienced legal team at Gerber & Holder.
We’ll fight to get you and your family the justice and compensation you deserve.
Distracted driving is a nationwide issue, but its impact is keenly felt on the bustling roads of Atlanta, Georgia. Whether it’s texting, adjusting the GPS, or even changing the radio station, these seemingly harmless activities can lead to devastating consequences for victims and their families.
Fortunately, if you’ve been a victim of a distracted driving accident, you’re not powerless. With the right legal team behind you, it’s possible to reclaim not just financial losses but also a sense of justice and security.
This article aims to shed light on the continuing problem of distracted driving in Atlanta and help you understand your right to seek and recover compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.
How many accidents are caused by distracted driving?
According to a report from the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, in 2020 alone, there were approximately 283,855 accidents involving at least 1 suspected or confirmed distracted driver in Georgia, accounting for about 47% of all car crashes. This is actually a decrease from the percentage of suspected or confirmed distracted driving accidents during the previous year, which was 56%.
Single-vehicle crashes made up 21% of all distraction-related accidents, while multi-vehicle crashes accounted for 78%. Sadly, all of these crashes were preventable.
The color of your car can increase your chances of being in an accident. Learn which color cars are the safest (and most dangerous) to drive on Georgia roads.
What behaviors are considered distracted driving?
In Georgia, distracted driving includes any activity that diverts attention away from the primary task of driving. While some distractions are more common than others, they all compromise road safety.
Below are some behaviors generally considered to be distracted driving in the state, some of which are illegal:
- Talking on a hand-held cell phone. The use of a hands-free device is allowed, but using a hand-held phone to talk is considered distracted driving and is illegal, except in emergencies.
- Texting. It’s illegal in Georgia to read or send texts while driving.
- Using social media. Reading posts, recording videos or posting of any kind on social media is prohibited while driving.
- Adjusting radio or GPS. Manipulating car controls or settings can distract the driver’s attention from the road.
- Eating or drinking. Consuming food or beverages can be considered a form of distraction if it interferes with safe driving.
- Conversing with passengers. Engaging in intense or emotionally charged conversations can divert your focus from driving.
- Personal grooming. Activities like applying makeup, brushing hair or shaving can also take your attention off the road.
- Reading maps or other printed material. Even glancing down for a moment can lead to an accident.
This is not an exhaustive list, but it highlights some of the more common activities that can contribute to distracted driving. Law enforcement officers have the discretion to determine what constitutes a distraction in different situations.
In the news: Distracted Georgia driver launched into the air after speeding over a flatbed truck
In May 2023, a momentary lapse in attention by a Georgia driver led to a harrowing incident that was captured on a police body cam. The video, shared on Reddit, shows a sedan veering off the road and using a flatbed tow truck as a makeshift ramp. This resulted in the car being launched into the air before landing back on its side on the pavement.
Despite the dramatic circumstances, the occupants of the airborne car survived. The improbable convergence of factors, such as the tow truck’s presence and its bed being lowered, makes the incident extraordinarily unlikely, serving as a cautionary tale about the severe consequences of distracted driving.
What is the most common cause of distracted driving accidents?
The most common cause of distracted driving accidents is generally the use of mobile phones. Activities like texting, talking on the phone, browsing the internet, or using apps divert the driver’s attention significantly and pose a serious risk.
Texting is often considered the most dangerous form of distracted driving because it engages the driver visually, manually and cognitively, taking attention away from the road on multiple levels.
Studies and surveys consistently point to mobile phone use as the leading cause of distracted driving incidents, contributing to a significant number of accidents, injuries and fatalities each year. Because of this, many states, including Georgia, have laws specifically targeting mobile phone use while driving in an attempt to reduce such accidents.
Is distracted driving illegal in Georgia?
Yes, distracted driving is illegal in Georgia.
The state has a Hands-Free Law that prohibits the use of hand-held phones while driving. Under this law, it’s illegal to physically hold or support a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device while operating a vehicle. Exceptions are made for emergency situations.
The law allows drivers to use hands-free technology, like Bluetooth, to make calls. Voice-to-text features are also allowed. However, watching or recording videos is not permitted while driving, except for dash cams that are continuously recording or streaming.
As distracted driving poses a significant risk on the road, it is crucial to be aware of and understand state-specific laws to prevent accidents and avoid legal consequences.
What are the penalties for distracted driving in Georgia?
Violating Georgia’s distracted driving laws can result in fines and points on your driver’s license, and the penalties can increase with subsequent violations:
- For a first-time conviction, there’s a $50 fine and 1 point against the driver’s license. First-time offenders can potentially have the charge dismissed if they show the court they’ve acquired hands-free technology for phone use.
- Second and third convictions within 24 months of the first come with fines of $100 and $150, respectively, along with 2 and 3 points on the license.
Does a distracted driving ticket affect insurance in Georgia?
Yes, receiving a ticket for distracted driving can affect your insurance rates in Georgia.
Insurance companies use your driving record as one of the factors to determine your insurance premiums. A ticket for distracted driving is generally considered a moving violation and will likely result in a mark against your driving record.
Once the insurance company reviews your driving record and sees the violation, you could see an increase in your insurance rates. The amount of the increase can vary depending on your insurance provider, your overall driving history, and other factors such as your age and the type of coverage you have.
Do distracted driving accidents lead to more serious injuries for victims?
Distracted driving can indeed lead to more serious injuries for victims. When a driver is distracted, their ability to react to potential hazards on the road is impaired, potentially resulting in higher-speed collisions and more severe outcomes.
Additionally, distracted driving can cause a wider range of accident types, including head-on collisions, rear-end accidents, and side-swipes, each with its own set of risks for severe injuries.
The types of injuries sustained in these accidents can be quite severe, including:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Internal bleeding
It’s also worth noting that the victims of distracted driving accidents aren’t limited to the occupants of other vehicles. Pedestrians and cyclists are particularly vulnerable to distracted drivers and may sustain even more serious injuries compared to car occupants due to a lack of protection.
How can you prove a driver’s distraction caused an accident?
In order to recover compensation after any type of accident, you’ll need to prove that the other driver was negligent, and distracted driving is one of many forms of negligence.
Proving that a driver’s distraction caused an accident involves gathering various forms of evidence and may require the expertise of legal professionals. Here are some ways you can build a strong case:
- Police reports. The official report from law enforcement often contains important information and assessments about the cause of the accident that can help prove the driver was distracted.
- Witness statements. Eyewitness accounts can provide valuable perspectives and may be used to establish the distracted behavior of the driver in question.
- Surveillance footage. Cameras from traffic lights, businesses or even dashcams can sometimes capture the actions of the distracted driver leading up to the crash.
- Photos and videos. Photographs of the accident scene, vehicle damage, and any road conditions can also be used as evidence.
- Expert testimony. Accident reconstruction experts can use evidence to recreate the scene and help prove the driver’s distraction caused the crash.
- Cell phone records. In some cases, subpoenaing the driver’s phone records can demonstrate that they were texting or on a call at the time of the accident.
- Social media. Posts or updates made by the driver close to the time of the accident may also serve as evidence of distraction.
- In-car technology. Some modern vehicles come with technology that can record details like speed and brake application, which may be retrievable after a crash.
If you suspect your accident was caused by a distracted driver, contact an attorney to help guide you through the process of gathering and presenting evidence to prove the driver’s negligence.
What types of compensation am I entitled to if I was hit by a distracted driver?
If you were in an accident caused by distracted driving, you may be entitled to various types of compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. This compensation typically falls into 1 of 3 categories:
- Economic damages. These are quantifiable losses that include medical expenses, lost wages, property damage and future medical care. You can usually prove these damages through bills, invoices and pay stubs.
- Non-economic damages. These are intangible losses that cannot be easily measured. They include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of companionship or quality of life. Though harder to calculate, these damages are just as important in a personal injury claim.
- Punitive damages. These are awarded to punish the at-fault party for egregious behavior and prevent similar conduct in the future. Punitive damages are only awarded in cases where the driver’s distraction was particularly reckless or malicious.
Consulting with a qualified personal injury attorney can help you determine which types of compensation may be applicable in your case.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit after a distracted driving accident in Georgia?
In Georgia, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim is generally 2 years from the date of the accident. This means you have 2 years to initiate legal proceedings against the party responsible for the accident and your injuries. If you fail to file within this timeframe, you may lose your right to pursue compensation.
For wrongful death claims arising from a distracted driving accident, the statute of limitations is also generally 2 years. However, the clock starts ticking from the date of the victim’s death, which may or may not be the same as the date of the accident.
There are some exceptions and nuances to these general rules, so it’s crucial to consult with an attorney to determine the specific deadlines applicable to your case. Failure to act within the legal time limits could jeopardize your chance of receiving compensation.
Were you or a loved one the victim of a distracted driver? Get help from an experienced Atlanta accident attorney.
If you or a loved one is the victim of a distracted driving accident in Georgia, don’t wait to take action. Contact the experienced Atlanta injury attorneys at Gerber & Holder to find out more about your rights and get the help and justice you deserve.
We offer free initial consultations to answer any questions you have about your case or the legal process, so schedule your appointment with one of our knowledgeable attorneys today.
Hands-Free Law – Home | Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. (n.d.). https://www.gahighwaysafety.org/hands-free-law/#:~:text=Drivers%20cannot%20have%20a%20phone
Traffic Safety During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. (2019). https://www.gahighwaysafety.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/2020-GTSF-Issue-Brief-Georgia-Traffic-Safety-During-the-COVID-19-Public-Health-Emergency-2.pdf