Getting into an accident with someone driving while drunk or under the influence of drugs is a motorist’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately, the likelihood of getting into a crash with someone texting while driving is even more likely, and potentially as dangerous. Texting while driving is a form of distracted driving, among the most common causes of serious accidents.
While not all distracted driving involves texting while behind the wheel, it is the primary reason for distracted driving collisions. Florida has the dubious distinction of being the second-worst state in the nation when it comes to distracted driving accidents. Only in Louisiana is the situation worse.
A Ft. Lauderdale car accident lawyer at Kogan & DiSalvo can help you receive the compensation you deserve if you were seriously injured by someone texting while driving. Under such circumstances, it is critical to obtain legal counsel as soon as possible so that we may launch a thorough investigation before crucial evidence is lost. Distracted driving is considered a form of negligence, which is the basis for most personal injury lawsuits.
Florida Texting While Driving Laws
Under Florida law, no one may operate a motor vehicle while “manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters into a wireless communications device.” The law prohibits sending or reading data on such devices. The prohibition extends to communication methods such as “texting, emailing, and instant messaging.”
This law was passed to improve roadway safety for all users and prevent crashes caused by text messaging. The Florida legislature wanted to “reduce injuries, deaths, property damage, health care costs, health insurance rates, and automobile insurance rates related to motor vehicle crashes,” as per the statute.
Under this statute, law enforcement officers are permitted to stop motor vehicles and issue citations to drivers who are texting while driving. It is legal to use handless cellphones while behind the wheel to conduct conversations. There are areas in which such handless cellphone use is illegal, including school zones, designated school crossings, and road work zones.
Failure to comply with Florida’s distracted driving law does not result in stiff financial penalties. The fine for such conduct is a mere $30 for the first offense, which doubles to $60 and a 3-point driver’s license penalty for a second offense.
Texting While Driving Statistics
When a driver texts, they do not have both hands on the steering wheel, as required by law. That is bad enough, but the act of texting takes their eyes off the road and places their focus on whatever text they are sending or reading, not on the reality of driving in traffic. Unfortunately, the dangers of texting while driving are borne out by statistics.
According to the CDC, nine people die in the U.S. every day in accidents due to distracted driving. Roughly 20 percent of those killed were not in other vehicles but were walking or riding bicycles. Nine percent of teenagers who die in motor vehicle accidents were distracted driving victims. Approximately 424,000 people are injured in distracted driver collisions annually. In Florida in 2020, 299 people lost their lives due to distracted driving.
While anyone with a cellphone might text while driving, younger drivers are far more likely to engage in this activity than older motorists. When it comes to fatal distracted driving collisions, a higher percentage of drivers aged 15-20 were involved than those 21 and up.
About one-quarter of distracted drivers involved in fatal accidents were between the age of 20 and 29. Those young people most likely to text and drive were also more likely to engage in other risky behaviors, such as not wearing their seat belts or driving after consuming alcohol. However, students with good grades were as likely to text while driving as those with average grades of C or below.
Accidents Caused by Texting While Driving
Texting while driving injuries run the gamut, and much depends on the speed of the distracted driver’s vehicle at the time of the crash. In addition, many of those who text while driving are relatively young and not experienced behind the wheel. They may ignore other rules of the road, such as speed limits.
The types of accidents caused by texting while driving include:
- Rear-end collisions–The texting distraction causes the driver to plow into the car in front of them.
- Side-impact collisions–Most often resulting from running a stop sign or traffic light because the driver’s eyes were on the phone and not the intersection.
- Head-on collisions–The person texting while driving may cross the center line and hit an oncoming vehicle head-on.
These are just a few scenarios. Texting while driving may cause one or more vehicles to roll over or crash into other cars on the road. Think of texting while driving as a tragedy just waiting to happen.
Texting While Driving Injuries
If victims of distracted drivers are relatively lucky, they may sustain only minor injuries along with damage to their cars. However, many victims die in such accidents or suffer injuries, including:
- Broken bones
- Internal organ damage
- Spinal cord injury
- Traumatic brain injury
For texting while driving accident victims, life is changed permanently. Due to their injuries, they may no longer have the ability to work and may require long-term hospitalization and rehabilitation. These tragedies result because someone who could not wait to send or read a text message did not pull over to do so.
All forms of distracted driving, such as eating or drinking or having loose pets in the vehicle, can cause serious injury. Many of these other types of distracted driving are hard to prove in court unless videos or witnesses are available. That is what makes texting while driving cases different, as it is possible to obtain the driver’s cellphone records and show they were sending or receiving texts at the time of the crash.
Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to car insurance. That means the accident victim’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance will pay for their medical expenses, no matter who was at fault for the crash. However, if medical expenses exceed $10,000 or the injury is severe, the victim may file a personal injury lawsuit against the texting while driving motorist.
Potential damages, or compensation, in a texting while driving injury case may include:
- Medical expenses, current and future
- Lost earnings
- Child, pet, housekeeping, and caregiving services during recuperation
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
If the crash involved gross negligence, or the defendant acted intentionally, punitive damages may come into play. Such damages are meant to serve as punishment and make an example of the offending party. For instance, if the defendant had a history of distracted driving offenses and yet continued to text while driving, the court may consider that gross negligence.
In Florida, the cap on punitive damages is the greater amount of three times the compensatory damages or $500,000.
Contact a Ft. Lauderdale Texting and Driving Accident Lawyer
If you or someone you know has been seriously interested in a rear-end collision or any other type of accident involving texting while driving, you need the services of an experienced Ft. Lauderdale auto accident attorney at Kogan & DiSalvo. Contact us today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. After reviewing your case, we will discuss your options.
Because we work on a contingency basis, there is no fee unless you receive compensation.