Distractions behind the wheel can be deadly. Recent data suggests that, in some parts of Canada, distracted driving is in fact the cause of more fatalities on the road than driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Distracted driving is a pervasive nationwide problem. But in the province of Ontario, the impact of distracted driving has been especially devastating.
A recent report from the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) revealed that distracted driving is the leading cause of death on the province’s roads. As a matter of fact, over the last twenty years, the number of deaths caused by distracted driving in Ontario has doubled. It only takes a split second for fatal motor vehicle collisions to occur. In the time it takes a driver to turn their attention away from the road to glance at a cell phone notification, lives can be destroyed.
In addition to potential fatalities caused by distracted driving, accidents resulting from a driver’s inattentiveness can lead to serious injuries. On average, one Ontarian is injured in an accident caused by distracted driving every half hour. In Ontario, distracted driving accounts for 17% of all accidents on the province’s roads.
Unsurprisingly, most distracted driving accidents are the result of cell phone use behind the wheel. According to Canada’s National Security Council, 26% of the country’s car accidents involve a cell phone distraction. Although people who text while driving are twenty-three times more likely to crash than a driver who is focused on the road, using a cell phone in hands-free mode behind the wheel could also steal a driver’s attention away from the road enough to cause a collision.
Transport Canada defines distracted driving as any instance in which a driver’s attention was taken away from the task of driving because they were focused on something else. While cell phone use may be the most common distraction, eating while the vehicle is in motion, speaking to passengers in the car, checking a GPS system, adjusting the radio station, wrangling pets in the vehicle, and anything else that takes a driver’s focus off the road, even momentarily, can cost lives. Nationwide, distracted driving is the cause of 21% of the country’s fatal collisions, and 27% of collisions resulting in serious injuries.
If you have been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, an Ontario car accident lawyer may be able to help you pursue financial compensation.
When Distracted Driving Causes Serious Injuries
Accidents caused by distracted driving can result in severe, even catastrophic injuries. Some common injuries resulting from car accidents include:
- Soft tissue injuries
- Broken and fractured bones
- Internal organ damage
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Spinal cord injuries (SCI)
- And more
Sustaining a severe injury can cause an accident victim to endure prolonged or permanent physical, emotional, and financial hardships. Injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident caused by distracted driving could have a negative and lasting impact on the lives and livelihoods of accident survivors.
Because of a driver’s poor decision to look away from the road for a brief moment, car accident survivors could require intensive medical treatment. Accident victims who have sustained catastrophic injuries may lose their ability to live independently. For the survivors of car accidents who lost their mobility as a result of another driver’s negligence, the social isolation and diminished quality of life could cause profound emotional and psychological damage.
Additionally, the financial repercussions of injuries caused by distracted driving can be disastrous. Accident victims who have sustained serious injuries could incur expensive costs for medical treatment, rehabilitation, and attendant care. If the injuries they have acquired in a collision prevent an accident victim from returning to the workforce, an accident victim may face a lifetime of financial instability.
In an instant, drivers, passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists, other road-users, and their families could face a difficult new reality of physical pain, mental anguish, and financial ruin… all because another driver chose to look away from the road.
Who is Most Likely to be Distracted While Driving?
According to a study published by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), more than one-third of licensed Ontario high school students admitted to texting while driving. This percentage increases to 46% of Ontario’s licensed Grade 12 students.
In Canada, car accidents are the leading cause of death among youth between the ages of 16-25. Across the country, this demographic continues to be the one at greatest risk of serious injuries or death as the result of a car accident. According to Transport Canada, young drivers account for 25% of the country’s injuries and deaths on the road.
A combination of inexperience and riskier behaviours on the roads make teenagers particularly susceptible to collisions that may result in injuries or deaths. Recently licensed, newly independent young drivers do not have as much experience behind the wheel as more seasoned motorists. That being the case, teenage drivers may not realize how much focus and attention is required at all times in order to safely operate a vehicle.
According to Public Health Ontario, almost 100% of young drivers in Ontario are aware that it is illegal to use handheld mobile devices behind the wheel of a car, even when stopped at a red light. However, 55% of Ontarians between the ages of 16-24 admitted to reading texts they have received while driving, and 44% admitted to responding to those texts.
Young drivers may very well be more tempted to check their phones while driving than older, more experienced drivers. Their focus could also be easily stolen from the road by loud passengers in the vehicle, or other momentary distractions behind the wheel. It is important for the parents of newly licensed teenage drivers to make sure their child is aware of the dangers of distracted driving. Just as parents should talk to their teen about impaired driving, having frank conversations about distracted driving could very well save lives.
How a Lawyer May Be Able to Help Pursue Financial Compensation
According to Ontario’s Insurance Act, all motor vehicle operators on the province’s roads are required to provide a reasonable duty of care to other road-users. This means that all drivers must always practice safe driving habits and reasonable caution behind the wheel. A failure to do so by violating traffic laws, including driving inattentively, represents driver negligence.
If you were injured in a collision caused by another driver’s negligence, an Ontario car accident lawyer may be able to help you recover pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages for losses you incurred as a result of your injuries.
Pecuniary damages refer to the quantifiable costs an accident victim may be forced to pay as a result of their injuries. These costs or damages often exceed the amount of statutory accident benefits available to accident victims. In these situations and others, a lawyer may be able to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver to recover costs that are still outstanding. Some examples of pecuniary damages may include:
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Ongoing medical care/in-home care
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Adjusted living expenses
- Home modifications
- And possibly more
When distracted driving leads to catastrophic, permanent injuries, accident victims may suffer emotional repercussions. Catastrophically injured accident victims often develop additional disabilities, such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and others. In these cases, a lawyer may be able to help catastrophically injured accident survivors pursue non-pecuniary damages.
Non-pecuniary damages may be more difficult to quantify or calculate than pecuniary damages, but the emotional cost of these damages could have an even greater impact on an accident victim’s quality of life than the monetary losses they have incurred. Examples of these damages might include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- And possibly more
Contact Preszler Injury Lawyers Today
If you were injured in a motor vehicle collision caused by a distracted driver’s negligence, you may be eligible to recover financial compensation for damages you incurred. To discuss the circumstances of the accident and learn if you are eligible to pursue damages, contact us today.
For a free, initial consultation, call Preszler Injury Lawyers at 1-800-JUSTICE.