Texting While Driving Accidents
Texting While Driving Accident
Dangers of Driver Distraction
The term distracted driving refers to any activity that takes the driver’s attention away from the primary task of driving, and it has always been a cause for concern; however, in recent years the dramatic increase in the use of electronic devices has brought distracted driving to a whole new level, one that is of an alarming concern.
Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation places a great deal of focus on texting while driving and using cellular devices behind the wheel, and the agency is leading the effort to put a stop to texting and cellular phone use while driving. Since 2009 the agency has held two national distracted driving summits, it has banned texting and cellular phone use for commercial drivers, it continues to encourage states to adopt tough anti-texting laws, and it has launched several campaigns to raise public awareness about the widespread problem.
Types of Distracted Driving
There are three main types of driver distraction, they are visual (taking your eyes off the road), manual (taking your hands off the wheel), and cognitive (taking your mind off the task of driving). While there are many different types of distracted driving, texting while driving is one of the most dangerous and alarming forms of distracted driving because it involves all three forms of driver distraction.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), texting takes your eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds, which would be the same as driving the length of a football field at 55 mph blindfolded.
The NHTSA reports that in 2011, 3,331 people were killed in distracted driving crashes, as compared to 3,267 in 2010. What’s more, an additional 387,000 people were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2011, compared to 416,000 people injured in 2010. According to a Monash University study, drivers who use hand-held devices are 4 times more likely to be involved in a crash serious enough to injure themselves. Another study revealed that text messaging increases the risk of a crash by 23 times as compared to driving while not distracted.
Common Forms of Driver Distraction
All distractions endanger the driver, their passengers, other drivers on the road, pedestrians, motorcyclists and people riding bicycles. Distraction driving is defined as any activity that could divert the driver’s attention away from the primary task of driving, and there is little question that texting while driving is the most dangerous form of driver distraction since it involves visual, manual and cognitive distraction.
Some of the most common forms of driver distraction include:
- Texting while driving
- Using a cell phone (even hands-free devices are dangerous)
- Eating or drinking while driving
- Applying cosmetics
- Grooming activities (e.g. shaving for men)
- Reading (even reading a map or directions on a cell phone)
- Operating a DVD, or CD player, or the radio
- Speaking to passengers, especially in the rear of the vehicle
In the event that you have been involved in a texting while driving accident related to distracted driving, you could be eligible for monetary compensation. When searching for a lawyer for a car accident case in Los Angeles, it is important to remember that you need someone who is not only compassionate, but also knowledgeable. At Ghozland Law Firm, our legal team is both understanding of your situation and extremely experienced. Do not wait until it is too late to contact our firm!
California Laws on Cellular Phone Use
The state of California has a handheld ban for all drivers, this is the primary law. For bus drivers, California has a ban on all cell phone use; for novice drivers, California has a ban on all cell phone use, and this includes handheld and hands-free devices. As far as texting while driving is concerned, in California there is a ban on texting for all drivers and this is the primary law.
Have you or someone you love been injured in a car accident at the hands of a distracted driver, particularly someone that was texting while driving accident? If so, you need a personal injury lawyer for your car accident case in Los Angeles. It is against the law to text and drive in California, but unfortunately tens of thousands of California drivers engage in this dangerous behavior without regard to their safety, or more importantly, the safety of others.
At Ghozland Law Firm, a dedicated Los Angeles personal injury lawyer with more than 40 years of combined experience can investigate your case! Our firm offers free initial case evaluations to all of our potential clients, and we accept cases on a contingency fee basis. This means there are no out-of-pocket costs and we don’t collect a dime unless we obtain a favorable case result in your case.
You may be entitled to compensation for all of your economic and non-economic losses, and this may include medical bills, ambulance bills, pain and suffering, lost income, as well as loss of future income. Contact a Los Angeles car accident lawyer from our firm today.
Is texting while driving illegal in California?
In the state of California, texting while driving is illegal for all drivers according to Vehicle Code Section 23123. This law went into effect on January 1, 2009, making California the fourth state in the U.S. to ban texting while driving.
The specific law states that "a person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using an electronic wireless communications device to write, send, or read a text-based communication." This means that drivers are prohibited from holding or operating a cell phone or other electronic device to manually compose, send, read, or view an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle.
Violating this law can result in a traffic citation and a fine of $20 for the first offense and $50 for subsequent offenses. While the fines are relatively minor, the key goal of the law is to discourage drivers from the dangerous behavior of texting and driving which diverts attention from the road and significantly increases the risk of a crash.
Overall, California has taken an important step toward improving road safety by making texting while driving illegal, but more can likely be done to strengthen the law and better enforce this ban.
Can I sue someone for texting while driving and causing an accident?
The victim of a Los Angeles car accident caused by a driver who was texting behind the wheel may have legal grounds to sue the at-fault driver. California has laws against distracted driving and specifically prohibits texting while driving.
If it can be proven that the other driver was sending or reading text messages at the time of the accident, and this behavior directly caused the crash and resulting injuries, then the victim may pursue a personal injury lawsuit.
Such a lawsuit could seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. While it may be difficult to prove the other driver was texting if they do not admit to it, cell phone records and eyewitness accounts may be used as evidence.
If the other driver was negligent by violating traffic laws and causing harm, they may be found liable in a civil court. Of course, the specifics of the case and jurisdiction will determine if a lawsuit is viable and what potential damages may be awarded. But in general, the victim of an accident caused by a texting driver may have legal grounds to pursue compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.
The victim of a texting while driving accident may also be able to seek punitive damages as a result of the at-fault driver's negligence. Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant and deter future reckless behavior by making an example out of them.
Victims need to know their rights and hire an experienced attorney that understands how to navigate cases involving texting and driving, cell phone records, and other evidence that could be used in court. In some instances, a settlement may be reached outside of court; however, it is wise that all parties involved have legal representation, so they understand their rights and all potential outcomes before signing any legal documents.
Ultimately, filing a personal injury lawsuit can help secure compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain/suffering due to the negligent texting driver. Additionally, it serves as a reminder that distracted driving has very real consequences not only for individuals who choose this dangerous behavior but also for innocent victims who suffer because of their reckless decision-making.
What damages can I recover in a texting while driving accident case?
A Los Angeles texting while-driving accident victim can potentially collect significant damages in their case. Some of the common damages include:
- Medical bills: The costs of any medical treatment required due to the injuries from the car accident can be recovered. This includes ambulance rides, hospital stays, surgeries, physical therapy, and medication. Future medical costs may also be included if ongoing treatment is expected.
- Lost wages: If the injuries prevent the victim from being able to work, either temporarily or permanently, the lost income can be recovered. This may include lost bonuses, commissions, and benefits as well.
- Pain and suffering: The physical pain and emotional distress caused by the injuries can be compensated. The amount will depend on the severity and permanence of the injuries. Permanent disabilities and disfigurement may result in higher pain and suffering damages.
- Property damage: The costs to repair or replace the victim's vehicle and any other property damaged in the accident can be recovered.
- Punitive damages: If the texting driver was behaving in a reckless or intentionally harmful manner, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the driver and deter others from engaging in similar behavior.
How can I prove that the other driver was texting while driving?
To prove that the at-fault driver in a Los Angeles car accident was texting while driving, the victim and their legal counsel can pursue several avenues of evidence:
Phone records: The victim's attorney can subpoena the phone records of the at-fault driver to show incoming and outgoing texts around the time of the accident. If texts were being sent or received immediately before or during the accident, this is strong evidence that the driver was distracted by their phone and not fully focused on the road. Phone records can provide timestamped evidence of texting activity.
Eyewitness accounts: If there were eyewitnesses to the accident, their testimony can provide additional evidence. Witnesses may have seen the driver looking down at their lap or holding their phone, or swerving out of their lane in a way that indicates distraction. Eyewitness accounts, especially if multiple witnesses saw the same behavior, can be compelling evidence to prove the driver was texting.
Accident reconstruction: A professional accident reconstructionist can analyze the details of the accident, including the paths of the vehicles and the sequence of events. If the reconstruction shows the driver reacted too slowly or took evasive actions that suggest they were distracted, this analysis can provide additional evidence that the driver was likely texting and not paying full attention to the road.
Combined, phone records, eyewitness accounts, and accident reconstruction analysis can provide a solid case that the at-fault driver was texting while driving, leading to liability for the resulting accident. While none of these alone prove the driver was texting, together they can demonstrate a preponderance of evidence making a compelling case.
What if the other driver denies texting while driving?
If the at-fault driver denies texting while driving in a Los Angeles accident case, it can make the case more challenging to prove. However, an experienced personal injury attorney will conduct a thorough investigation to gather evidence that the driver was texting behind the wheel. This may include:
- Requesting cell phone records to show texting activity at the time of the accident. Cell phone companies typically maintain records of when and where texts were sent and received which can be legally obtained with a subpoena.
- Interviewing witnesses to the accident. If other drivers or pedestrians witnessed the accident occur and saw the at-fault driver texting or holding a cell phone, their eyewitness accounts can be powerful evidence.
- Examining the vehicle for signs of cell phone use like a phone mount or charger. If the vehicle has signs that the driver frequently uses their phone while driving, it supports the argument that they were likely doing so at the time of the accident as well.
- Analyzing traffic camera footage. If there are traffic cameras at or near the intersection where the accident occurred, they may have captured footage of the at-fault driver with a cell phone in their hand or looking down at their lap. The footage can be requested as evidence to support the texting while driving claim.
While a denial of texting while driving can make an accident case more challenging, an experienced attorney will conduct a thorough investigation and gather all available evidence to determine the truth of the situation and build a strong case for their client.
With persistence, evidence of texting while driving can often be uncovered even when denied by the at-fault driver.
Can I still recover damages if I was also partially at fault for the accident?
Even if a victim of a Los Angeles texting while-driving accident was partially at fault for the crash, they may still be able to recover damages from the other driver. California follows what is known as "pure comparative negligence", which means that a plaintiff's negligence in contributing to an accident will not bar them from recovering damages, but any damages award will be reduced by their percentage of fault.
For example, if a jury finds that a texting driver was 80% at fault for an accident and the victim was 20% at fault, the victim could still recover damages, but the total amount would be reduced by 20% to account for their partial fault.
The victim would need to show that the texting driver was negligent in driving while distracted, which is increasingly seen as irresponsible and dangerous behavior. As texting while driving leads to an increased number of accidents, courts are less tolerant of this behavior and more willing to assign greater percentages of fault.
Of course, the specific details of an accident and the judgments made by a jury can be unpredictable. However, the fact that California uses comparative negligence and recognizes that texting while driving is irresponsible means that victims retain the possibility of recovering a damages award even when they are partially at fault.
Ultimately, the facts of a specific case and the percentage of fault assigned would determine how much a victim might be able to recover. While being partially at fault would reduce damages, it would not necessarily bar recovery.