Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit for Distracted Driving

Was a police report filed?
  • Distracted driving is becoming a more common driving violation that poses serious risks to drivers, their passengers and other drivers and pedestrians on the roads. Accidents from distracted driving have seen a major increase in the past few years due to much higher use of smartphones for texting and for posting on social media, such as Twitter and Instagram.

    Drivers of all ages engage in distracted driving, but research shows that teenagers are especially likely to use their phone while behind the wheel.

    The much wider use of smart phones as multi-purpose communication devices has caused more personal injury lawsuits to be filed based upon distracted driving. For example, a few years ago, there was a wrongful death lawsuit in California against an Uber driver. The driver ran over a woman and her daughter while they were crossing the street. The Uber driver was texting at the time of the crash.

    The Grim Statistics

    Approximately 3,300 fatalities happen every year due to distracted driving, according to data from the Department of Transportation. That source states that drivers are at least twice as likely to have an accident if they are texting while driving.

    Also, approximately 500,000 people per year are killed or injured due to texting and driving. The US has the largest problem in the world with distracted driving. Approximately 69% of drivers from 18 to 64 say they have used their phone while they were driving in the last month.

    Texting while driving makes an accident 23 times more likely to occur. Distractions from texting are much more likely to distract us when we drive than other activities, such as adjusting the radio, talking on a cell phone or having a conversation with a passenger.

    The number of deaths and injuries due to distracted driving are major factors in new state laws that ban or limit the use of cellphones while driving:

    How a Personal Injury Lawsuit Could Occur

    If a person is in an accident that injures another person, the police can determine if a cell phone was a factor in the accident. Law enforcement has the authority to obtain cell phone records to determine if the person was using a cell phone when the accident happened. If the police do determine that the driver was texting or talking on a phone when the accident happened, cellphone records could be used to prove recklessness or negligence in a personal injury

    Also, the police can analyze the tickets the driver had before this particular accident. Further, they can review traffic video and footage from traffic cameras.

    The attorney for the plaintiff will recreate how the accident happened, look over medical reports, look at the driving history of the drivers involved, review accident footage, talk to witnesses, and also will review evidence collected about possible distracted driving. The attorney will determine if the plaintiff will be potentially entitled in a lawsuit to try to obtain compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering, medical expenses and loss of earning capacity.

    Also, even if someone else causes the accident, the injured driver using a phone for texting during the accident could be a factor in a personal injury lawsuit. The use of the cell phone could be evidence of contributory negligence, which would mean that the negligent behavior of the plaintiff could prevent them from getting the full amount of compensation for their injuries.

    Even if there is no exact law against what the driver was engaged in at the time of an accident, any evidence of distracted driving can be useful in a civil lawsuit to prove negligence.

    Just as with any personal injury lawsuit involving a car accident, a distracted driving personal injury suit would generally follow these steps:

    • Meeting with attorney to discuss possibility of lawsuit
    • Start the case by attorney filing suit in appropriate court
    • Fact finding and discovery
    • Resolution before trial - if judge determines there is no case, could be dismissed
    • Settlement - if sufficient evidence exists to establish negligence, the case could be settled out of court
    • Trial - judge or jury will decide if there is sufficient evidence to establish negligence
    • Collecting after judgement

    Advice for Distracted Driving Victims

    If you have been the victim of a collision that may be due to a driver being distracted by a smartphone, there is a potential for punitive damages against the driver. There has been a case in PA where a distracted driver had to pay punitive damages to several crash victims, which was caused by two ringing cell phones in his car.

    There also can be personal injury lawsuits against the driver's employer, in some cases. Employers profit from having their employees always being accessible by electronic devices while driving.

    In a case where the distracted driver was engaged in work-related activity at the time the distracted driving accident occurred, the plaintiff generally will need to show that the company was responsible for the improper conduct in some way.

    Employers are very much involved in the great spreading of smartphone use, and also establishing how the devices are used by employees to carry out their duties. A smart personal injury lawyer may be able to help a distracted driving victim receive punitive damages from the corporation that employed the distracted driver.

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