A distracted driver is just as dangerous as a drunk driver, and the injuries that result from these car accidents can be just as catastrophic. It only takes a split second for a distracted driving accident to change your life completely—a driver could look down to see who’s calling their cell phone, change the dial on the radio, or put on lipstick using the mirror on their visor.
If you or a loved one was involved in a car accident caused by a distracted driver in Michigan, you need an experienced car accident lawyer in Michigan on your side. Contact the Michigan Injury Lawyers at (888) 454-0801 today for a free consultation and case evaluation.
New Distracted Driving Laws in Michigan
Michigan lawmakers are taking a stronger stance against distracted driving. In June 2023, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed new legislation aimed at curbing distracted driving accidents, making it illegal to drive while holding or using a cell phone. The laws are effective as of June 30, 2023.
The legislation amends the Michigan Vehicle Code, which prohibited drivers from reading, manually typing, or sending a text message “on a wireless two-way communication device that is located in the person’s hand or in the person’s lap.” The new laws are geared toward more modern technology.
Specifically, the legislation amends makes it illegal to “use a mobile electronic device to do any task including, but not limited to:”
- Send or receive a telephone call.
- Send, receive, or read a text message.
- View, record, or transmit a video
- Access, read, or post to a social networking site.
The law also prohibits drivers from reaching for a cell phone or mobile electronic device in a way that requires them to maneuver so that they’re no longer “in a seated driving position, restrained by a seat belt.” The law applies while driving as well as when stopped at red lights.
There are limited exceptions for first responders, public emergency workers, and anyone calling or texting 911 or emergency services to report an emergency or seek help. Drivers can also use their GPS, but only in a hands-free manner, such as mounted on the dashboard or following voice commands.
Cell phone use is also permitted while driving but only if the phone is being activated by voice commands or the driver is talking through the speaker or through a system built into the vehicle.
The Hazards of Distracted Driving in Michigan
There’s no doubt that distracted driving is dangerous. According to Michigan State Police, there were 16,543 distracted-driving crashes and 59 distracted-driving fatalities in Michigan in 2021. In the past decade, more than 34,000 car accidents in Michigan have occurred as a result of distracted drivers. More than 9,000 of these motor vehicle crashes involved the use of cell phones, according to Michigan Live. The remaining crashes involved various other distractions behind the wheel.
Distracted driving crashes are a very real concern, not just in Michigan but also across the U.S. According to distracted driving statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving auto accidents accounted for 14 percent of all injury accidents and more than 8 percent of all traffic fatalities in the U.S., claiming 3,142 lives in 2020 alone,
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a Michigan distracted driving accident, you may have legal recourse against the driver who caused your injuries. The auto accident attorneys at Michigan Injury Lawyers will stand up for you if you’ve suffered a personal injury in a car accident caused by a negligent driver. We offer free consultations. If there is no recovery in your case, there is no fee for our services.
Filing a Motor Vehicle Accident Claim
Michigan is a no-fault car accident state, which means that if you are involved in an auto accident, you recover compensation for medical costs and lost wages through your insurance provider’s personal injury protection, or PIP policy.
All Michigan drivers are required to carry PIP insurance to cover their own and their passengers’ medical bills and other expenses, such as lost wages and funeral and burial expenses.
The minimum PIP insurance in Michigan is:
- $50,000 bodily injury coverage per person
- $100,000 bodily injury coverage per accident
Michigan also requires motorists to carry a minimum of $10,000 in property protection coverage for accidents outside of Michigan.
Compensation Available in Distracted Driving-Related Crashes
Car accident victims can seek damages for car accident-related expenses, such as:
- Medical bills
- Medical expenses for future medical treatment
- Lost wages if your injury prevented you from working
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
- diminished social enjoyment
- Shame and mortification
- Attendant care
- Replacement services
- Transportation costs
If you have suffered damages in a Michigan car accident, contact our Michigan Injury Lawyers. Our Michigan car accident lawyers can help determine a value for all of your damages and get you the maximum compensation you deserve.
Causes of Michigan Distracted Driving Accidents
Smartphones typically get the most attention when it comes to distracted driving accidents. Younger drivers are more likely than older drivers to be involved in car crashes related to cell phones. Approximately half of the drivers involved in cell phone-related crashes were under the age of 20.
Although 18-year-olds were the worst, according to Michigan Live, older drivers are also commonly involved in cell phone-related crashes as well. An estimated one-third of drivers using a cell phone at the time of a car crash were between ages 30 and 40, while the oldest driver to be involved in a cell-phone related crash in Michigan was 97 years old.
It comes as no surprise that the problem of cell phone use is not limited to young drivers, as Distraction.gov reports that, at any given time, an estimated 660,000 drivers throughout the U.S. are using their phones while behind the wheel.
Of course, while cell phone usage is a major cause of distracted driving collisions, they are not the only cause of these types of accidents. Other possible types of distracted driving accidents include:
- Talking to or paying attention to passengers while driving instead of focusing on the road. This can be a major problem in situations where there are young children in the car that parents are focusing on or when groups of teens are driving together.
- Adjusting the music or the vehicle controls. Drivers often look away when changing the song on their devices, when adjusting the heat or air conditioning, or when otherwise interacting with the controls in the car.
- Eating, drinking, smoking, or putting on makeup. All of these behaviors not only result in taking the eyes off the road but also necessitate taking at least one hand off the wheel.
- Using a navigation system or a map. Entering information into your GPS when driving also causes you to take your eyes off the road and hands off the wheel. Even looking at old-fashioned maps can be dangerous.
- Reaching for objects in the car. Drivers may take their eyes off the road and their hands off the steering wheel if something falls in the vehicle or if they need to access something from the back of the car or the passenger side.
- Watching a movie or reading. More and more cars are equipped with distracting screens and electronic devices. Drivers may be too focused on these and not focused enough on driving safely.
These and other behaviors where a driver looks away from the road or fails to pay attention can create a very dangerous situation. Other drivers, pedestrians, bike riders, and motorcycle riders are all at risk when a driver becomes distracted and focuses on something other than operating his vehicle in a safe way.
What to Do If You are Involved in an Accident with a Distracted Driver
If you are involved in an accident with a distracted driver, it is important that you take certain steps to protect yourself and your fellow passengers and to prepare yourself in the event you wish to file a claim for compensation.
Immediately after a Michigan auto accident, you will want to check to see if you or any of the passengers in your car were injured, then call law enforcement to the scene. Be sure to report any injuries that you see, even if they are minor so all apparent injuries are documented in the police report.
Gather Information at the Scene
Following your accident, you’ll want to exchange contact information with the other drivers involved in the accident, including name, phone number, and insurance information. You should also gather contact information for any witnesses at the scene and jot down your recollections and those of eyewitnesses while the information is still fresh in everyone’s mind.
You can also use your smartphone to take photos of the accident scene, any injuries accident victims suffered, and road conditions or other distractions that may have contributed to the accident.
Many drivers do not admit that they were distracted when operating their vehicle, and you will need to have as much evidence as you can to prove that your accident was caused by a negligent driver.
Seek Medical Attention
If you have been in a car crash involving a distracted driver, you should see a medical doctor as soon as possible. Even injuries that appear minor may worsen in time, and you will want to have your injuries documented in your medical records.
You will also want to follow all the medical treatments prescribed by your doctor, including any therapy, surgeries, procedures, and medications. Following your doctor’s instructions show your insurance company and others that you are taking your car accident and personal injury seriously.
Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company
You must report your accident to your own auto insurance company immediately your auto accident, even if the accident wasn’t your fault. Accident victims have one year from the date of the accident to file an auto accident claim with their insurance company for no-fault insurance benefits. Delaying reporting the accident may result in your insurance company refusing to cover your claim or canceling your policy altogether.
When you do report the accident, do not admit fault to your insurance company, even if you think you may have been partially to blame. If you choose to file a personal injury claim to recover compensation for your damages, your attorney will determine fault through an investigation.
You should also not accept the first settlement offer from an insurance adjuster. Insurance adjusters are notorious for low-balling auto claims. If you accept a settlement from an insurance company, you cannot go back later and collect more from them even if your injuries require additional medical treatment.
Contact a Michigan Car Accident Lawyer
If a distracted driver in Michigan caused an accident that injured you or a loved one, contact a Michigan car accident attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will review the details of your car accident, determine the extent and value of the damages you suffered, and negotiate with your insurance company so you can recover the maximum compensation for your claim.
If you have suffered serious, expensive, or permanent injuries or if you have lost a loved one in a distracted driving accident, and your expenses exceed the limits of your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, then you can file a lawsuit to collect compensation from the insurance company for the negligent driver who caused your car accident.
While you don’t have to have legal representation to file a lawsuit, having an experienced attorney on your side can improve your chances of getting the full compensation you deserve through a settlement or judgment. Contact our Michigan car accident lawyers today, as there is a deadline for filing personal injury lawsuits in Michigan.
Deadline for Filing a Michigan Car Accident Lawsuit
The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit in Michigan is three years from the date of the accident. If you do not file within this timeframe, it is very difficult to recover compensation for your car accident damages.
Michigan Injury Lawyers’ team of auto accident attorneys will ensure that all deadlines for filing your accident claim are met before time runs out.
Get Help from Our Michigan Car Accident Lawyers Today
If a distracted driver in Michigan caused an accident that injured you or a loved one, you might have a legal right to obtain compensation. But you have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit, so it’s important to contact a car accident lawyer with experience in Michigan law without delay. Our personal injury law firm will handle the necessary paperwork to ensure you don’t miss the deadline and do everything in our power to get the maximum compensation you deserve.
Contact an experienced auto accident attorney with Michigan Injury Lawyers today to help you and your family obtain the settlement you deserve. We respond promptly to telephone calls and report regularly to auto accident victims on developments in their cases. Call our auto lawyers at Michigan Injury Lawyers at 313-362-8551 or contact us online. If there is no recovery in your case, there is no fee for our services.