5 Tips for Representing a Client Injured by a Distracted Driver

by Legal Author on November 8, 2012

Guest post outlining 5 tips for representing a client injured by a distracted driver

Before smartphones and texting became commonplace, distracted driving was generally limited to the occasional driver munching on a cheeseburger, chatting with passengers, switching radio stations, or fumbling with a map behind the wheel. Today, technology has made its way into the car with an ever-increasing number of gadgets that take attention away from the road. From built-in navigation systems and in-dash video screens to portable MP3 players, smartphones, and tablet computers, it’s no wonder drivers are distracted. Unfortunately, distracted driving is deadly.

According to Distraction.gov, 3,092 people were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2010 and over 416,000 people sustained injuries. Lawyers representing accident victims may not need government reports to tell them that distracted driver-related accidents are on the rise; their caseloads often reflect this. How can you ensure that your clients receive the highest settlements possible? Below are a few tips to consider.

Get the Facts about Distracted Driving

Studies, such as A Comparison of the Cell Phone Driver and Drunk Driver by researchers at the University of Utah, have concluded that “…the impairments associated with using a cell phone while driving can be as profound as those associated with driving while drunk.” This is but one of dozens of studies exposing the dangers of distracted driving.

If your case involves a teen driver suspected of texting while driving, look for studies specific to teenage drivers using mobile devices behind the wheel. If your case involves an older driver, other distractions could have been at play such as roadway or environmental factors. For example, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Distracted Driving and Driver, Roadway, and Environmental report, drivers ages 65 and older tend to be significantly more distracted by conversations with other passengers than by cellphones.

Research can guide you toward areas to investigate and help you make your case for a distracted driving settlement.

Prove the Driver was Distracted

Proving distracted driving isn’t necessarily easy. While red light cameras and witnesses may reveal that a car ran through a red light, they don’t always document how the driver may have been distracted. Your investigative skills are essential at this point. Some areas to investigate include:

  • The driver’s cell phone records (for example, did the driver send a text message just seconds before the accident?
  • The driver’s social media accounts (did the driver send a tweet just before the accident?)
  • Where the driver just came from (is it possible the driver was distracted after receiving bad news?)
  • Where the driver was going (is it possible the driver was nervous about the upcoming event?)
  • How many passengers were in the car

Compare and Contrast Your Client’s Injuries with those of Victims of Drunk Driving

It’s easy for jurors to be somewhat sympathetic to distracted drivers. After all, teenage drivers are often seen as victims themselves. Meanwhile, it’s hard to hold a grudge against a senior citizen who may have been distracted by a cancer diagnosis. One approach that could be effective is to compare and contrast your client’s injuries to those of victims of drunk driving accidents. Keep the attention on your client’s injuries and show that the accident was equally as serious as any involving drugs or alcohol.

Compare and Contrast Settlements

Along the same lines, consider comparing and contrasting recent settlements involving distracted and drunk drivers. If recent cases in your state show a large discrepancy, you could use that to your advantage by questioning the wisdom of the juries who awarded lower settlements for the same type of injuries. If recent cases are relatively balanced, you could reinforce that other juries have made sound decisions.

Detail Your Client’s Losses and Ask for a Large Settlement

You’ve already demonstrated that the driver’s negligence caused the accident. Now detail exactly how that has affected your client. List the costs already incurred as well as those that will be incurred in the future. Tell jurors about similar cases with large settlements and make the case that while the negligent driver may be sympathetic, your client has paid a high price for the driver’s lapse of judgment and deserves full compensation for those losses.



1. David L. Strayer, Frank A. Drews, and Dennis J. Crouch, University of Utah, Salt Lake. A Comparison of the Cell Phone Driver and the Drunk Driver. Distraction.gov. [Online] 2006. [Cited: October 25, 2012.] http://www.distraction.gov/download/research-pdf/Comparison-of-CellPhone-Driver-Drunk-Driver.pdf.

2. Distracted Driving and . Distracted.gov. [Online] 2010. [Cited: October 24, 2012.] http://www.distraction.gov/download/research-pdf/Distracted-Driving-and-Driver-Roadway-Environmental-Factors.pdf.

Guest post contributed by Kevin Krist, a Catastrophic Injury Attorney based in Houston Texas. Kevin has been practicing law since he was 22 years old. He is one of the most qualified and experienced personal injury trial attorneys in Texas. Find out more about Texas Catastrophic Injury representation.

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