Protecting Victims Injured in Distracted Driving Accidents in Maryland
Accomplished accident attorneys serving clients in Baltimore, Columbia, and beyond
Driving a vehicle, whether it’s a car, a motorcycle, or an 18-wheeler, requires the full attention of the driver. Yet distracted driving is one of the leading causes of injurious and fatal car accidents in Maryland. Every day, driver inattention puts other people at risk of a collision, resulting in serious injuries and thousands of dollars worth of property damage.
At Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A., our Maryland car accident attorneys represent individuals and families whose lives have been irreparably changed by a distracted driver. If you have suffered an injury, or if your loved one has died because of the negligence of another driver, pedestrian, or cyclist, we are here to help. With offices throughout Maryland, our injury lawyers are always close by when you need us most. Call use today to get started on your case.
How can we help today?
- What is distracted driving?
- How do distractions affect a driver?
- How common is distracted driving in Maryland?
- What are Maryland’s distracted driving laws?
- What are the penalties for breaking Maryland’s cellphone and texting laws?
- What kind of injuries do distracted drivers cause?
- Who is liable for a Maryland distracted driving accident?
- How much is my distracted driving case worth?
What is distracted driving?
Distraction.gov defines distracted driving as any activity that diverts your attention away from your driving. While texting and cellphone use are common culprits in distracted driving cases, they are not the only ones. Distracted driving can also include:
- Watching or taking videos on a phone
- Eating or drinking while driving
- Using an infotainment system to access radio channels, the GPS, or other features
- Personal grooming, including applying makeup, shaving, or brushing one’s teeth
- “Rubbernecking” at accident scenes
- Excessively engaging with passengers
- Reading or sending emails
Many of these activities are still legal to do; your car probably came with cup holders and a built-in radio, and most new cars feature a built-in navigation system. Using those items while driving, however, increases the risk of a crash and serious injuries.
How do distractions affect a driver?
Driving requires a tremendous amount of focus. A driver whose sole focus is not on the road is more likely to miss warning signs of danger up ahead. Distracted driving can result in rear-end collisions, swerving into another lane or into oncoming traffic, and failing to obey traffic signals. According to Zero Deaths Maryland, there are four ways distractions can affect drivers:
- Visual distraction: looking at one’s phone, GPS, roadside accidents, etc.
- Auditory distraction: turning the radio up too high, engaging too much with passengers, etc.
- Manual distractions: using the infotainment system, a phone, a map, a drink, etc.
- Cognitive distractions: daydreaming, focusing on another driver, etc.
How common is distracted driving in Maryland?
Based on data compiled by Zero Deaths Maryland, the number of distracted driving crashes has remained relatively steady for the last five years* (2016-2020). On average, there are more than 54,000 distracted driving crashes in Maryland each year, out of 113,047 crashes in total. This means almost half of all accidents in Maryland (48%) involve a distracted driver.
- 573 people died in car accidents in Maryland; 216 people died in distracted driving accidents.
- 36,754 people were injured in car accidents in Maryland; 19,237 people were injured in distracted driving accidents.
(*2020 saw a significant drop in the number of car accidents across the country, most likely because of the coronavirus. Up until 2020, the number of car crashes remained virtually the same each year.)
What are Maryland’s distracted driving laws?
Most state laws focus on texting or cell phone usage only, and Maryland is no exception. Under MD Transportation Code § 21-1124 (2019), “An individual who is under the age of 18 years may not use a wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle.” In other words, no minor can use a cellphone while driving – period. It doesn’t matter if the driver is “hands free” or not; Maryland does not allow anyone under the age of 18 to use a phone while driving.
Under § 21-1124.1, “an individual may not use a text messaging device to write, send, or read a text message or an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle in the travel portion of the roadway.” The “no texting” rules applies to drivers of any age, with any kind of license. However, the rule does NOT apply to using GPS, or texting an emergency call to 9-1-1. In other words, you can legally type GPS directions into your phone (even though it is unsafe to do so while driving), and in the event of an emergency, you can text for help.
Under § 21-1124.2, the Communications Traffic Safety Act, adult drivers cannot use a handheld device, though legally they may answer, start, or end a call. Hands-free devices are legal for adults.
There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. An adult may use a handheld device to call for emergency services of any kind, and the law “does not apply to certain law enforcement and emergency personnel, or to certain commercial operators using ‘push-to-talk’ technology.”
What are the penalties for breaking Maryland’s cellphone and texting laws?
Illegal texting and handheld device use are primary offenses. This means you can be pulled over if law enforcement sees you breaking the laws. If you are caught using a handheld device, you face fines of:
- $83 for a first offense
- $140 for a second offense
- $160 for third and subsequent offenses
If you get caught texting, you face a $70 fine and a point on your license. If your distracted driving contributes to a crash, you face $110 fine and 3 points on your license.
If, however, a distracted driver causes the death or serious injury of another person, that driver can be charged for violating Jake’s Law, which was passed in 2014. The driver may face up to $5,000 in fines and up to a year in prison.
What kinds of injuries do distracted drivers cause?
Distracted drivers are dangerous, to themselves, to their passengers, to other drivers and to pedestrians. Every year, people suffer serious injuries at the hands of distracted drivers – injuries that may require a very long time to recover from, if the victim can recover at all. Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A. has helped individuals who suffered serious injuries such as:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries resulting in partial or full paralysis
- Burn injuries
- Broken bones and fractures
- Loss of limb
- Back, neck, and shoulder injuries
- Organ damage
- Permanent nerve damage
- Muscle, tendon, and ligament damage
- Permanent hearing or vision loss
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement
In the most tragic circumstances, a distracted driver can cause an accident serious enough to cause a fatal injury.
In these cases, it is crucial that you seek the guidance and legal support of a skilled Maryland car accident attorney. At Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A., we have spent 35 years helping car accident victims and their families obtain the compensation they need. We are fierce courtroom litigators with a well-established reputation throughout Maryland for our aggressive strategies. We never settle a case just because it may be easier, and we prepare every case we take for a trial to ensure that no stone is unturned. If a distracted driver caused you harm, our auto accident lawyers stop at nothing to ensure that the party responsible is held accountable for his or her actions.
Who is liable for a Maryland distracted driving accident?
Generally speaking, a distracted driver is liable for the accident he or she causes. If you are hit by a distracted driver, you can make a claim or file a lawsuit against that driver’s insurance company.
However, there may be times when liability is difficult to determine. This is why having an experienced Maryland personal injury lawyer on your side is so important. At Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A., we represent clients injured in distraction-related accidents and collisions involving distracted pedestrians and cyclists, multi-vehicle crashes, commercial vehicles, Uber & Lyft collisions, and more. Whether you are a driver, a passenger, or a passerby, we are here to help.
How much is my distracted driving case worth?
Every car accident case is valued differently, based on the circumstances as well as the severity of the victim’s injuries. There is simply no way to determine how much an accident claim is worth from the outset. People who suffer severe, life-altering injuries will usually require more medical care, and the full extent of the injuries may take time to determine.
In most cases, however, victims and their families can make a claim for economic and non-economic damages such as:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages and loss of earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
In the event of a fatal injury, the family may be entitled to funeral and burial expenses. If the victim was injured while in the course of his or her job duties, he or she may be able to claim workers’ compensation.
Do you have a distracted driving attorney near me?
Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A. maintains nine offices throughout Maryland, serving Baltimore, Columbia, Crofton/Gambrills, Dundalk, Frederick, Owings Mills, Seabrook/Greenbelt, Towson, and Westminster. Initial consultations are always free.
Help for Maryland victims of distracted driver accidents
Distracted drivers can cause serious car accidents; your future and your life may depend on the work of an accomplished personal injury lawyer. Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A., offers comprehensive care and counsel for injury victims in Baltimore, Columbia and throughout Maryland. Please call us at 410-730-7737 or contact us to schedule your consultation.