Cell phones tend to be our fifth appendage, but there is one place they do not belong: the hands of a driver. According to the Official US Government’s Website for Distracted Driving,
“18% of injury crashes in 2010 were reported as distraction-affected crashes.”
Distracted driving is defined as any activity that can divert a driver’s attention from their primary task, operating the vehicle. All distractions, including eating and drinking, endanger passengers and others on the road. But text messaging is the most notable distraction because it interferes with the driver’s vision, concentration, and control of the car.
In the US, 39 states have banned text messaging for all drivers. Our legal resources thoroughly explained to us how the regulations and laws are being enforced in their various areas. They also gave us some key advice on how to proceed with a distracted driving infraction.
1) Distracted Driving Law Infractions
Most states vary in their implementation of distracted driving laws. However, the consequences are pretty similar across the board. According to attorney Shari-Lynn Cuomo Shore,
“The consequences vary state to state, but in Connecticut, distracted driving consequences–when no accident is involved–are fines (rather than criminal charges). However, if an accident is involved, there can obviously be criminal charges and/or personal injury actions associated with it as well.”
Like most other traffic infractions, fines will follow when you receive a distracted driving ticket. But if you cause an accident due to distracted driving, negligence suits can follow in the form of criminal and personal injury charges.
2) Immediate Action: What to do first if you caused an accident due to distracted driving
Before you hire an attorney or determine if you have a legal case on your hands, you need to contact your insurance company. According to attorney Jason B. Kessler,
“If you were distracted while driving and caused an accident you should immediately contact your car insurance company. The faster that you give them the details of the accident, the faster that they can take actions to minimize the likelihood that the plaintiff’s recovery will exceed the limits of your insurance policy.”
Timely notification to your insurance company can ensure your policy can cover the damages before you resort to legal help.
3) When to Hire a Criminal Lawyer
If distracted driving caused a harmful accident, hiring a criminal law attorney can be a good idea. Attorney Michael E. Cicero explains,
“I suggest that offenders hire criminal lawyers and victims personal injury lawyers. A victim can subpoena cell phone and e-mail records that can prove the exact time text or e-mail messages were sent — useful in proving one’s case.”
Cicero also suggests that offenders acknowledging their guilt plead no contest to protect themselves in subsequent civil cases. If the injured party is looking to collect damages beyond your insurance policy, it is time to hire a criminal law attorney.
4) When to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
Since it is quite simple to prove when a driver was using their phone based on phone company’s records, personal injury lawyers can prove negligence by distracted drivers quite easily. Attorney Steven D. Pattee elaborates,
“A driver owes a duty of care to operate his or her vehicle in a non-negligent manner. A distraction, from eating or drinking to texting or checking email, will take away from attention to the road. A plaintiff’s personal injury attorney should be able to use that distraction to the advantage of his or her client. Someone injured in an accident would be well advised to consult with an attorney to ensure they are being fully protected.”
Be sure to consult a personal injury lawyer to be certain you receive the damages you deserve when injured by a distracted driver.
Distracted driving laws have become a reality in most of the United States. The consequences of a distracted driving infraction can range from a fine to a criminal law case. Texting and driving is the most alarming distraction on the road today, causing a substantial percentage of accidents each year.