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Distracted driving accidents in Manhattan: Steps victims can take

Photo of Harlan Thompson

Everybody with common sense knows it's foolish to drive while distracted with a phone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, distracted driving is thought to kill an average of nine people and injure more than 1,000 people each day in the United States.

Despite tough laws, New York City is not immune to the deadly problem of distracted driving. In Manhattan, one of the world's busiest places, it is crazy to text and drive or even talk on the phone behind the wheel, yet numerous drivers are doing it right now. Throughout the borough -- in Midtown, on the West Side Highway and the FDR, on uptown and downtown streets and avenues -- motorists, motorcyclists, bicyclists are put in harm's way by this negligent behavior.

What New York law says about phone use

In New York, it is illegal to operate a hand-held mobile device behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. This includes:

  • Using a social media app like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter
  • Sending a text message, even while waiting at a red light
  • Answering a phone call without a hands-free device
  • Sending instant messages, Snaps or photos

You can be ticketed, significantly fined (with extra fees) and get points on your license for holding a phone to your ear or typing into a mobile device. Yet some motorists just can't resist the temptation to use their devices when they know they shouldn't.

What you should do as a distracted driving victim

If you or one of your family members has been hurt by a negligent driver (whether allegedly distracted or not), you may be entitled to compensation. If it's possible, try to do the following after an accident:

  • Record the time and location of the collision.
  • Get insurance information from the responsible driver.
  • Get names and contact information from any witnesses.
  • Take pictures of the accident and your injuries. (This is a good use of your phone.)
  • Get prompt medical attention if you are hurt.
  • Do not talk to another driver's insurance company.
  • File a police report. Make note if you saw a driver improperly using a mobile device.

Every situation is different. An experienced attorney can help you understand if you have a case.

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