Fargo Distracted Driving Accident Attorneys
Distracted Driving Accidents in Fargo, North Dakota
Distracted driving, including texting while driving, is one of the biggest hazards on our highways and roads. Despite the known dangers—as well as laws prohibiting certain driving distractions—motorists continue to give their attention to other activities aside from driving while behind the wheel, leading to thousands of accidents, injuries, and deaths annually.
If you were injured by a distracted driver, you could be entitled to financial compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. A distracted driving accident attorney in Fargo from Maring Williams Law Office can help you understand your options after an accident, including your right to file a personal injury protection (PIP) claim with your own insurance provider, as well as the potential option of stepping outside the state’s no-fault system and suing the at-fault motorist.
North Dakota Distracted Driving Laws
Like most other states, North Dakota has several laws pertaining to distracted driving. Specifically, the state’s anti-distracted driving laws focus on texting and cell phone use behind the wheel.
In North Dakota, it is unlawful to do any of the following while driving:
- Use a cell phone or handheld device to read, type, or send a text message
- Use a cell phone or handheld device to read, type, or send any text-based communication
- Engage in any activity that significantly impairs one’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle
Additionally, drivers under the age of 18 may not use any electronic communications device, including cell phones, while operating motor vehicles.
While texting and driving and cell phone use behind the wheel are primary offenses, meaning a driver can be pulled over and cited for these activities, driving while distracted by something other than texting or cell phone use is a secondary offense. This means that a driver can be cited for driving distracted if their ability to safely operate the motor vehicle is impaired and they break another law, such as running a red light or speeding.
Types of Distracted Driving
While it is one of the most common—and most dangerous—forms of distracted driving, texting behind the wheel is not the only way in which a driver can be distracted. Any activity that causes the driver to divert their attention away from the task of driving is considered a driving distraction, and all of them can be incredibly dangerous.
Generally speaking, driving distractions are categorized in the following four ways:
- Visual Distractions: Activities/conduct that causes a driver to take their eyes off the road
- Manual Distractions: Activities that cause a driver to take one or both hands off the wheel
- Cognitive Distractions: Conduct/thoughts that take the driver’s attention away from driving
- Auditory Distractions: Noises/sounds that impair the driver’s auditory focus while driving
Most driving distractions fall into multiple categories. For example, texting while driving is so dangerous because it is a combination of a visual distraction (the driver is looking at the text message rather than the road), a manual distraction (the driver is holding the cell phone/using one or both hands to type a message), and a cognitive distraction (the driver’s attention is on the content of the message, not the task of driving).
Examples of Driving Distractions Other Than Texting/Cell Phone Use
Although much of the discussion around distracted driving centers on texting and cell phone use, this is far from the only type of driving distraction.
Some common examples of driving distractions other than texting and cell phone use include:
- Adjusting the temperature/controls within the vehicle
- Looking for a song, playlist, or music on a cell phone or handheld device
- Changing the music/radio or listening to loud music
- Eating or drinking, including non-alcoholic beverages, and smoking
- Attending to children, pets, or passengers in the vehicle
- Taking photos or recording videos, including livestreaming on a handheld device
- Looking at, scrolling, or posting to social media
- Browsing the internet
- Talking on the phone or talking to passengers in the car
- Grooming, applying makeup, fixing one’s hair, and looking into car mirrors
- Reaching for or moving objects in the vehicle
- Looking at billboards, accidents, and other objects along the roadway
- Daydreaming, becoming lost in thought, or “spacing out”
- Playing games on a cell phone or handheld device
These and other distracting activities can have deadly consequences. If you believe the person who caused the accident that left you injured was distracted, whether by a cell phone or something else, do not hesitate to contact our Fargo distracted driving accident lawyers to learn how we can help. If your injuries are severe, we can help you bring a lawsuit against the at-fault driver and seek fair compensation for your losses, including both economic and non-economic damages.
What to Do If You Are Injured by a Distracted Driver in North Dakota
If you are involved in an accident or injured by a distracted driver—whether as the occupant of another vehicle, a pedestrian, or bicyclist—there are certain steps you should take to protect your well-being and your rights.
First and foremost, seek immediate medical attention. Even if you believe your injuries are minor or will heal on their own, you should always see a qualified health care provider after an accident. Sometimes, the shock of the accident can mask injuries; the safest thing to do is receive an evaluation and diagnosis from a medical professional.
You should also do your best to document the accident. Get the other driver’s name, contact information, and insurance information (if possible). Take pictures of the accident scene, as well as your injuries and any damage to your vehicle. If there are witnesses at the scene, get their name(s) and contact information, as well. Avoid saying anything that could be construed as admitting fault, including apologizing. Remember, only an in-depth investigation into the accident can determine what happened and who was to blame.
Because North Dakota follows a no-fault system when it comes to car accidents, the first step in filing a claim is seeking compensation through your own auto insurance provider. Your personal injury protection (PIP) insurance covers your medical bills and other specific out-of-pocket expenses following an accident, regardless of who was to blame. However, it does not cover non-economic losses, like pain and suffering. Furthermore, PIP coverage is limited and may not be enough to cover the full cost of your medical bills and other losses.
You may be able to go outside the no-fault system if you can prove the following:
- Your medical expenses are more than $2,500
- Your injuries resulted in “serious and permanent disfigurement or disability”
- You have been or are expected to be disfigured or disabled for more than 60 days
If the above are true, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit directly against the distracted driver. Our team at Maring Williams Law Office is here to answer your questions and provide the personalized guidance you need. We strive to hold negligent motorists accountable for the harm they cause, and we have what it takes to effectively advocate for you.
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