We have all done it at one time or another, knowing we shouldn’t – reached for something we dropped, got too engaged in a discussion with a passenger, fiddled with the radio, checked on the kids in the backseat, or even done the unthinkable…text while driving! Distracted driving accidents are on the rise. If you were injured in an accident that involved a distracted driver, here are some things you should know.
Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law
Florida Statute 316.305, commonly known as the ‘Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law’ states, in part:
A person may not operate a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters into a wireless communications device or while sending or reading data on such a device for nonvoice interpersonal communication, including, but not limited to, communication methods known as texting, emailing, and instant messaging.
As of 2020, in forty-eight states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, texting while driving is an illegal, punishable offense, including costly fines and points on your driving record.
Cell Phone Usage Statistics
The National Safety Council (NSC) analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data finds that 3,142 people died in distraction-affected crashes in 2020.
Over the last nine years, the percentage of drivers using hand-held electronic devices increased by 1,300%, from 0.2% in 2005 to 2.8% in 2020. Among other activities, this observation includes text messaging. Drivers observed with visible headsets remain low at 0.4% in 2020.
When Is It Ok to Use a Handheld Device While Driving?
Certain people and events allow for the legal use of a handheld device while driving. Anyone operating an emergency vehicle while performing official duties, such as police officers, firefighters, or paramedics is permitted to use a handheld device while operating a motor vehicle. For the rest of us, we can…
- Use a handheld device while your vehicle is not moving, such as when you are sitting at a red light or stopped in traffic
- Use a handheld device to receive messages related to the operation or navigation of their vehicle, including safety-related information, such as emergency, traffic, or weather alerts
- Use a handheld device’s GPS and other navigational systems
- Send text messages and respond to text messages using hands-free technology
- Use a handheld device to report an emergency, criminal, and/or suspicious activity to local law enforcement
Because of Florida’s ‘no-fault’ liability practice, if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, you must utilize the benefits provided through your own auto insurance policy for reimbursement of expenses arising from you and your passengers’ injuries and losses. However, if you suffered a serious injury and are able to prove the other driver was negligent due to distracted driving, you may be able to recover compensation for your losses.
Proving Distracted Driver Liability after an Auto Accident
To prove that a distracted driver was liable for the injuries you suffered as a result of the accident, it must be clearly shown that the driver was engaged in some activity that took their attention away from the road. This can be difficult to do if you were not in the car with the driver at the time of the accident. Although difficult, it can be done, and here are just a few examples of how.
- Perhaps there are one or more witnesses who saw the driver using their cell phone or saw some other activity that distracted the driver before the accident.
- Another way to support your claim for negligence and prove liability is from the information in the police report. It may contain information about activity that the driver was engaged in immediately before the collision. For instance, if the other driver admitted to being distracted or the officer discovered an exchange of text messages on the driver’s cell phone just before the accident, this would strongly support your assertion of negligence.
- And, if the police ticketed the distracted driver, it may help prove they violated their duty of reasonable care to you and other drivers on the road.
In the event of a death resulting from an auto accident with a distracted driver, their wireless communication records may be admissible as evidence in any proceeding to determine if a violation was committed and determine liability.
In these cases, you should hire a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who will protect your rights and work to get the compensation you deserve. Your attorney will subpoena the other driver’s cellphone records to prove driver distraction.
Contact Us Today
Having a knowledgeable, trusted personal injury attorney working for you can make the difference in ensuring you get full compensation for your injuries and damages. Your attorney will know where to find the evidence you need to support your claim.
At Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., we listen to you and want to hear your story!
When you contact us, we will take the time to get to know you and understand all the ways your life has been affected by your accident. We pride ourselves on being empathetic, compassionate, and caring. This is just one of the reasons we are Florida’s top-rated personal injury attorneys – providing personalized legal advice addressed to meet your individual needs.
From the first call, you will know that we will be there with you, helping you to navigate through what can be a complex, difficult, and emotionally challenging time. We strive to provide you with all the information and resources you need. We are dedicated to making your life easier. From start to finish, we will promptly answer all your questions and provide the best legal advice, so you can make informed decisions about your future.
We build trust through open, timely communication, and straightforward legal advice. We are an award-winning, established personal injury law firm, fighting for our clients for over 60 years, and have recovered more than $145 million in awards.
Contact us today and we will fight to get the results you deserve.