Legislature Addresses Dangers of Texting and Driving
In today’s connected world, there is potentially no single piece of technology that individuals are more attached to than the smartphone. From being able to listen to podcasts, check email, and find a restaurant, the smartphone is everyone’s connection with the outside world. Unfortunately, many smartphone users believe that they can continue to engage with their devices while driving. The news is full of articles detailing accidents in which the responsible party was attempting to drive while texting. In many States, this action is illegal as being distracted driving, in the same way as talking on a mobile telephone, putting on makeup, eating, etc. If an individual is injured as a result of texting and driving, while law enforcement will address the criminal aspect of the other driver’s action, retaining the services of an experienced Miami personal injury attorney is crucial to recovering the costs associated with the injuries. This issue has become so pervasive in today’s society that the Florida Legislature is considering a bill which would make increase the penalties on texting and driving. Although this bill addresses the criminality texting and driving, evidence of this behavior is also relevant for proving fault in a car accident claim. A discussion of this bill, as well as potential civil remedies for any accidents involving texting, will follow below.
Florida House Bill 107
The bill being considered by the Legislature, if passed and signed by the Governor, will make texting and driving a primary offense in Florida. This means that law enforcement officers will be able to pull over a motorist who they observe is typing on his/her phone while the vehicle is moving. Additionally, the bill also makes it illegal to hold or use a mobile phone in construction or school zones.
If an individual sustained injuries because another driver was texting, and was the cause of the automobile accident, that individual has the right to pursue financial compensation for his/her injuries – regardless of whether law enforcement issued a citation against the texting driver. Typically, in Florida, this ability would mean that the injured individual sustained injuries that exceeded the limits of that individual’s personal injury protection policy, and will most likely need proof of a serious injury in the automobile accident. This procedure will involve submitting a claim to the texting driver’s insurance company. If his/her insurance company refuses to negotiate a fair settlement, a civil lawsuit may be filed.
As mentioned above, one key to this issue is that the other driver’s texting was, in fact, the proximate cause of the automobile accident. To prove this, the injured individual must demonstrate the four legal aspects of negligence. Specifically, the injured individual must prove that:
- The texting driver had a duty of care to others on the roadways to drive in a safe manner;
- That the texting driver failed to uphold that duty by texting and driving;
- That the failure caused the accident; and
- That the accident was the cause of the injuries.
Obviously, a citation that the other driver was texting and driving would make the second element easy to prove. Nevertheless, even if there was no citation, evidence such as witness statements and cell phone records can assist. An experienced personal injury attorney can help build the case against the texting driver with this evidence.
Seek Legal Advice
If you were injured in an automobile accident in which the other driver was texting and driving, and this was the cause of the accident, contact the experienced Miami car accident attorney at Pita Weber & Del Prado as soon as possible. We have years of experience in personal injury matters, and will use this to your advantage. If we believe that a cause of action exists against the other driver, we will commit all their resources to ensure that you receive just compensation. Contact our Miami office today for an initial consultation.