A recent article about an O’Fallon, Ill., woman who allegedly caused an accident in a construction zone raises the issue of the dangerousness of distracted driving. As a southern Illinois car wreck lawyer, I know that drivers who fail to pay attention to the road can face serious consequences, including jail time and fines, as well as lawsuits from victims. Many accidents are entirely preventable, and as traffic increases from summer travel as well as road construction that couldn’t take place during winter months, we all need to be aware of what we’re doing on the road. I am very glad that no one was seriously hurt in this accident, which could have had a much worse outcome.
According to the Bellville News-Democrat, Illinois State Police say that Megan C. Gates, 21, was driving a 2006 Honda CR-V SE just after midnight on June 2 on Interstate 55/70 just south of Pleasant Ridge Road. A 2001 Chevrolet Silverado and a trailer were parked on the shoulder with warning lights on, while two construction workers stood on the shoulder preparing to mark off the construction zone with traffic control barriers. Gates swerved to avoid hitting an animal, she told police, and hit the Silverado on its driver’s side, causing her CR-V to tip over onto its side and slide about 300 feet, then tip back upright in a ditch. One of the construction workers, Timothy R. Ahle, 26, of Centralia, was hit by debris from the crash, and the other, Justin W. McQuary, 23, of Collinsville, was hit by the trailer when the CR-V hit the truck. Both men were taken to Anderson Hospital in Maryville with minor injuries. Gates refused medical treatment at the scene.
Gates admitted to talking on her cell phone while in the construction zone, which is illegal in Illinois, though she said she was not on the phone when she hit the truck. She was charged with using a cellular phone in a construction zone and failing to reduce speed to avoid an accident under Scott’s Law. This law requires drivers to move over to give room to emergency vehicles and increases penalties for those who fail to do so and cause accidents or injuries to public safety or service personnel. The penalties include a fine of up to $10,000 and suspension of driver’s license for up to two years.
In my work as a St. Louis auto accident attorney, I see many crashes like this in which a driver faces charges that suggest negligence, and I frequently counsel victims about how they can recover the costs imposed on them by the crash. Driving while distracted by cell phones or anything else is negligent, meaning that the driver is failing to live up to his or her responsibility to keep others safe on the road. It is unfortunate that distracted driving is so common — University of Illinois computer science professor Sheldon H. Jacobson reports that driver distraction is behind nearly 80% of auto accidents in the U.S.
But victims of drivers who aren’t paying attention and cause a crash can hold those drivers responsible for the damage they cause and make them pay for medical costs, property damage, past and future lost wages, and pain and suffering. The Missouri car crash attorneys at Carey, Danis & Lowe specialize in helping victims of distracted drivers put their lives back together after a crash has hurt them or their property. Even minor injuries like the ones suffered by the construction workers can develop into worse problems as time goes on. Soft tissue injuries, for example, can be extremely painful, long-lasting, and hard to treat, but you might not realize you have one right after the crash happens. That’s why it’s important to consult an experienced lawyer with special expertise in personal injury cases as soon as possible after an accident. You can’t predict how your body will respond to a crash, but with an attorney’s help, you can preserve your right to recover the greatest amount of compensation possible from the driver’s insurance company.
Carey, Danis & Lowe helps people who have been injured through no fault of their own recover compensation for their costs, pain and suffering, and lost quality of life. For a free consultation in which you can learn about your legal options, please call us at 1-877-678-3400 or send us an email through our website.