Texting while driving is a high-risk behavior that contributes to thousands of motor vehicle accidents every year. It only takes a few seconds of the driver looking away from the road for a devastating crash to occur. If another driver’s poor decision to text while behind the wheel contributed to the car crash that caused your injuries and losses, you may be able to pursue legal action against the at-fault party and their insurer for compensation.
It’s really no surprise that texting and driving is so widespread, considering that 97% of Americans own a cell phone—and the average person checks theirs at least once every four minutes. According to crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 3,000 people were killed and upwards of 424,000 people were injured in distracted driving accidents in a single calendar year in the U.S.
Reach out today to discuss your rights after a crash with the team at Kogan & DiSalvo. Free consultation.
Florida Texting While Driving Laws and Penalties
Nearly every state in the union has distracted driving laws restricting cell phone use behind the wheel. Florida law prohibits drivers of all ages from texting while driving.
In 2019, texting while driving became a primary offense. That means drivers can be pulled over for this offense.
A first violation is considered a non-moving offense with a small fee, court fines, and no points on the driver’s record. A second offense carries higher fines, court fees, and three points on the driver’s license. Penalties for texting while driving in school and construction zones may be higher.
Proving Liability for Texting While Driving Accidents: Evidence is Key
Unlike many driving offenses, it is often difficult to prove someone was using their phone before a crash. But it can be done.
Proving negligence is required for injured parties seeking compensation for losses associated with a motor vehicle accident. To start the process of establishing liability, think back to what you observed before the accident. Was the other driver paying attention to the road or looking down at their phone? Were they swerving out of their lane or going too slow or fast for traffic? Did you see the other driver using their phone?
These details are helpful and should be shared with the police officer at the accident scene. However, it is still possible to build a strong case without an eyewitness account. Your Palm Bay texting and driving accident lawyer can subpoena key evidence, including phone records, vehicle black box data, and nearby video surveillance to tell the story of how and why the accident happened—and who was negligent.
When in doubt, save everything related to your claim and share this information with your attorney.
Potential Compensation After a Distracted Driving Crash
If you are injured by a careless driver in Florida, you may be entitled to damages, or financial compensation that reflects the many ways the accident changed your life. Compensation may be possible for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of earning capacity if you cannot return to work
In a fatal crash, the deceased individual’s surviving family members may consider pursuing a wrongful death claim. These claims attempt to compensate loved ones for funeral expenses as well as income and other contributions the decedent would have provided during their lifetime.
Why Is Texting and Driving So Dangerous?
Driving a motor vehicle requires your undivided attention. Anything you do besides driving is a potentially deadly distraction, whether that is eating a fast-food meal, putting on makeup, or turning to talk to a backseat passenger.
There are three types of driving distractions:
- Cognitive: taking one’s mind off driving
- Manual: taking one’s hands off the steering wheel
- Visual: taking one’s eyes off the road
Texting while driving is especially dangerous because it involves all three types of distractions. You’re thinking about what to write and typing your message, as you look down at your mobile phone. Because you are not aware of what’s happening on the road around you, you’re eliminating any opportunity you have to respond and react to hazards.
In the time it takes to type a few words and hit send, you’ve put yourself and others in harm’s way.
Who Is More Likely to Text and Drive?
Studies show that teens and younger adults are more at risk of distracted driving than other age groups. It’s important to be realistic about teen driving behaviors if we want to keep them and those around them safe.
Nearly one in 10 teen drivers who are involved in fatal crashes was distracted at the time of the accident. And in a 2019 survey of risky behaviors of U.S. high school students, 39 percent of teens admitted to texting or emailing while driving at least once in the previous 30 days.
It takes a concerted effort to combat distracted driving among teens. Between public awareness efforts, smartphone technology to disable phones and track driving behaviors, and enforcement of distracted driving regulations, the hope is every teen driver will put the phone down before they start their vehicle.
The Importance of Hiring an Attorney for Your Personal Injury Claim
Years of experience have given us unique insight into the impact accidents caused by texting have on our clients and their loved ones. That is why we are committed to pursuing justice for every client affected by driver negligence in Florida.
Because distracted driving can be challenging to prove, skilled legal representation is essential to build a compelling case. Our Palm Bay car accident lawyers use every legal tool available to achieve a successful outcome for your accident claim. We have eight locations to serve clients in and around Palm Bay, Brevard County, and all of Eastern Florida. Call or inquire online to schedule your free consultation today.