The Next Dangerous Distraction: Driving with a Pet

Millions of American households are home to dogs, cats, fish, ferrets, birds, and every other swimming, flying, or crawling pet you can imagine. These creatures are a part of the family for many, so pets often accompany their owners on trips around Miami. Dogs, especially, are proud to sit perched on their owner’s lap and take in the view, not realizing the extreme distraction they cause. Motorists who drive while interacting with a pet contribute to the number of distracted driving accidents, and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) reports on the risk. Every year, there are more than 265 fatal crashes and 49,000 injury-causing collisions linked to distracted driving.

Driving with a pet may not lead to a ticket in the same way as using a phone, but the dangers are profound with any type of distraction. You do have rights under Florida law, so make it a priority to consult with a Miami distracted driving accident attorney if you were hurt. An overview of the risks is also useful.

Pets and the Impacts on Driving

A driver’s capability to operate a motorized vehicle is impaired when engaging with an animal. Having it on a lap, petting it, and trying to corral it within the vehicle are all distractions that affect the motorist in three ways:

  • Visual: When the eyes are focused on what a pet is doing, they are not on the road where they belong. A driver may even reach toward the pet and crane their neck around, completely losing track of traffic.
  • Manual: Petting, leading their collar, and otherwise handling an animal means the motorist’s hands are not on the wheel or controlling other operations in the vehicle.
  • Cognitive: A motorist who is paying attention to an animal is not focused on the road, weather, traffic conditions, and potential collisions. The person should exclude all other thoughts from the mind unless related to driving.

Settling a Miami Distracted Driving Claim

As evidence for an accident caused by a distracted driver with a pet, your statements, witness observations, surveillance camera footage, and related information will be important. The fact that an animal was loose in the cabin of the vehicle might motivate the at-fault driver’s insurance company to settle, so you should carefully consider options. If the amount is fair in terms of covering medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses, you might accept. The benefits include:

  • You have certainty knowing what you will receive.
  • There are none of the risks you would encounter at trial, such as the jury finding that the pet was not a distraction.
  • The legal process concludes quickly, as opposed to time-consuming litigation.

Our Miami Distracted Driving Lawyers Will Advocate on Your Behalf

For more information on the legal process after a traffic crash, please contact Gerson & Schwartz, PA schedule a free consultation with an attorney. You can reach our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL, by calling (305) 371-6000 or visiting us online.

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