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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

LawCall: Distracted Driving

Credit: WAAY ABC Huntsville, AL
Duration: 0 shares 4 views

LawCall: Distracted Driving
LawCall: Distracted Driving

Attorneys Will League and Bart Siniard discusses issues involving injuries and property damage related to distracted driving.


How are you?

Bart siniard: doing good.

How are you sharon doviet: doing well.

We're going to put bart on the back burner for a second to talk about "distracted driving."

So, what exactly are we talking about, "distracted driving"?

What can that include?

Will league: it used to include stuff like putting on your makeup, drinking.

Ewith've all been in rush hour traffic, somebody is putting on makeup, eating breakfast, doing things they used to do.

Nowadays it's talking on the cell phone, texting, changing the radio station, we should be able to do that and drive, i guess, i'm not going to go that far.

And i don't put on makeup while i'm driving, so i don't know.

Seems like that would be distracting.

Sharon doviet: it is.

Don't do it.

Will league: you see somebody -- and we're seeing a lot more significant impacts than we used to see, you know, 10 or 15 years ago when you talk about just the traditional distracted driving, looking at the kids, looking in the back seat, that sort of thing.

And so the amount of property damage, the significance and velocity of taking your eyes off the road to finish that text or read a text, we're seeing significant impacts.

And, you know, they're interesting cases to proved and look at.

We'll talk about that later.

But when you talk about car wrecks and somebody has a sore neck and all the jokes about somebody with a neck brace and that sort of thing, when you get older and get hit, it's not like you're in high school and somebody tackled you.

When you get older and you have that whiplash type injury, you're looking at herniated discs, radicular symptoms in upper extremities and even down into a low back injury.

They can be significant injuries resulting in surgery and anybody that has had spine surgery knows it gets worse over time and not better typically.

And so the distracted driving, we're seeing greater impacts.

And on a motorcycle aspect of it, what used to be a fender-bender in a motorcycle, if you're on a motorcycle, we have seen death cases, severe injuries, broken legs, things if you're on a motorcycle and somebody is distracted, it will kill you.

And i grew up, my dad was rolling stone, doesn't come close to describing him, but he had me on a motorcycle at the age of second grade and rode it all way up.

And i started doing this to over 20 years ago and rode from time to time, and one time, sharon, i looked to my right, and there'sd i look to my left and there's a lady on her cell phone.

And i represented so many people that have been killed on motorcycles and it's rarely their fault.

People don't see them or they're distracted.

What we're seeing in these cases are significant injuries and death of what used to be just a regular little rear ender car wreck case.

So it can be significant.

You're putting other folks' lives at risk by doing that text, by looking at that email.

Sharon doviet: do you still rid motorcycles?

Will league: i do not.

I stopped about a decade ago.

I've represented so many people hurt so bad on motorcycle.

I get it, it's fun, it's cool, and you like the wind in your hair, we haven't had a helmet law.

But at what risk.

My buddies who write ride -- who riding, i preach to them.

I'll represent your family and we're going to love you and get as much compensation as possible but it's not worth it.

I hate to get on a motorcycle tirade, but distracted driving is killing people and i've had a lot of families who have lost a loved one who is just directly related to distracted driving.

It used to be i just didn't see the motorcycle, but now i was looking at phone.

We'll talk about how we prove that a little later.

Sharon doviet: bart siniard joins by zoom tonight.

We're taking calls and questiont especially distracted driving.

So, bar, you're seeing the same things.

Can you kind of instantly tell when looking at the records on a case, this looks like it's going to be something where another driver was distracted?

Bart siniard: yeah, one of the key giveaways is usually the impact of the wreck and, you know, we're usually able to look at the photos that clients have taken, and if it's a rear-end type collision with a significant impact where you know, both vehicles are totaled, that immediately triggers something in my brain that this person who caused the wreck just wasn't looking where they were going.

They didn't break, they didn't react like they should have.

And that is -- you see a case like that and it's like, well, we probably need to get the cell records of this person who caused the wreck because that is probably going to provide some evidence to show that this wasn't just regular negligence, like, oops, i misjudged the stopping distance.

This was more than that.

It was -- i was looking at my phone, and it's not just texting.

A lot of what we're seeing is they may be looking on social media or email.

And that can be harder to dig up, that data, but you can get it if you search hard enough.

And we can talk about that a little bit later.

But, yeah, we're especially looking for these high impact wrecks where it's like, how did you not see this person?

Sharon doviet: this email question, the very first one we got from kenzie kind of leads into what we you're talking about.

How do you determine if someone was texting at the time of the wreck?

Texting orange a phone looking at a email, how do you figure that out.

Will league: take the definition of a phone.

Back in day there was a bag phone in the car, it was so cool.

And we look at the phone records, was there a phone call?

And the big thing is you're on the phone and not being able to -- a lot of people talk on their phone and drive and hopefully they can do that safe if they're hands-free, and things like that.

But we have to pinpoint when the wreck happened.

Say someone calls 9-1-1, what exact time did the wreck occur?

We would have a difficult time trying to extrapolate exactly was that person on the phone.

Then texting came along.

And most jurors are not as freaked out about talking on phone as they are texting.

And so now what we'll do is we'll get the coordinates of the cell phone, and even if we can't pinpoint exactly what time the wreck occurred, if the vehicle is in motion, the phone is in motion, all of a sudden that phone will come to a stop.

What data was being collected and transmitted at the time that that phone came to an abrupt stop, just like bart said, we're finding social media.

We're in the middle of a text, all of a sudden they're in the middle of typing a sentence or we can see their screen is open and they're reading a text.

And how long their attention is away, one, two, three, five seconds is a long time when you've got a two-ton vehicle and you're traveling 50 miles an hour or 20 miles an hour against a pedestrian.

So taking your eyes off the road to complete that text is putting other people's lives at risk, no joke.

This isn't just some, hey, no... it's real issues.

Especially on the motorcycles, rear-end collisions causing neck surgery.

Bart, we're seeing much more, and we're having to get experts in and bring them in, you know, and what are you seeing with regard to the cases you're working on with regard to jurors responsive to that?

A lot of people text and drive, some people think it's not a big deal.

Bart siniard: yeah, and we've got one that probably is going to trial in august that is involving some distracted driving, and it's -- you have to get an expert.

Especially when you're not sure exactly when the wreck occurred.

You know, because it could be really important whether the wreck was at 5:07 or 5:08 p.m., because we will have their cell records showing they were sending texts at 5:07 but not at 5:08.

You have to get an expert and subpoena to other person's cell phone records and you have to do really detailed type subpoena asking for a lot of information, a lot of letters and numbers and codes that i still don't understand but our experts do, and we get that data from at&t or verizon or whoever it may be, and then we have the opportunity to ask the person who caused the wreck under oath in a deposition, you know, when was the last time you were on the phone prior to the wreck?

Who was it?

And we try to match up to see, is the data matching their story.

Usually it doesn't.

But the data is what matters.

And i think juries believe data over people.

Data doesn't lie.

And when you've got an expert who is well qualified who can interpret the data and say, this is what this person was doing at exactly this time and this is the exact time when the wreck happened, a jury is going to listen to that over anybody else's version of what happened, because data is data.

It's not somebody's memory

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