Since the relatively recent invention of cellular phones, navigation systems, and other portable electronic devices, automobile accidents resulting from distracted driving have been steadily increasing. Florida, unfortunately, is no exception, according to recent statistics provided by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
In many of these recent cases, the distracted driving that leads to an accident involves texting or making cell phone calls while driving a motor vehicle (without the use of a hands-free cellular device, such as a Bluetooth system). Other new technologies, such as GPS systems, also lead to serious motor vehicle accidents and personal injuries when they divert a driver’s attention away from the roadway in front of him or her.
If you or someone you love sustained injuries in a motor vehicle accident that resulted from the carelessness or negligence of a distracted driver, our experienced Clearwater personal injury accident lawyers are ready to help you obtain the monetary compensation you need and deserve under the law.
Our experienced attorneys may be able to assist you with proving your case, negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf, reaching a fair and equitable settlement of your case, and/or resolving your case via alternative dispute resolution methods (such as mediation or arbitration) or at trial.
Types of Distracted Driving Prohibited by Florida Law
Using a non-hands-free cellular phone or another electronic device for texting or making phone calls while driving is illegal in the state of Florida. More specifically, Florida recently enacted a law which directly prohibits texting while driving, subject to some limited exceptions. This law reads as follows:
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 the purpose of nonvoice interpersonal communication, including, but not limited to, communication methods known as texting, e-mailing, and instant messaging.
The Florida statute defines the term “wireless communications device” as follows:
Any handheld device used or capable of being used in a handheld manner, that is designed or intended to receive or transmit text or character-based messages, access or store data, or connect to the Internet or any communications service as defined in s. 812.15 and that allows text communications. For the purposes of this paragraph, a motor vehicle that is stationary is not being operated and is not subject to the prohibition in this paragraph.
Texting while driving, therefore, is illegal in the state of Florida. Other examples of distracted driving that also involve modern technological devices include the following:
- Using or programming a GPS unit while operating a motor vehicle
- Using or programming a handheld tablet or another electronic device while operating a motor vehicle
- Listening to loud music while operating a motor vehicle
- Listening to music through ear buds while operating a motor vehicle
Proving Distracted Driving Under Florida Law
When a driver acts carelessly, recklessly, and/or negligently while operating a motor vehicle on the roadway, such as by texting while driving, and a motor vehicle accident results, then that driver may be deemed liable for the accident and all resulting injuries and damages. Witness testimony is key in distracted driving cases because witnesses can report what they see and observe about the defendant driver immediately prior to and at the time of the subject collision.
In personal injury cases, the injured plaintiff always has the burden of proving negligence on the part of the other driver. In personal injury car accident collision cases, the injured plaintiff must prove all of the following elements of negligence in order to recover monetary compensation for injuries and damages sustained:
Duty – The injured plaintiff must show that the other driver owed everyone on the road a duty to drive as an ordinary, reasonable driver would have driven under the same or similar circumstances.
Breach – The injured plaintiff must show that the offending driver breached the applicable duty of care by acting unreasonably or imprudently under the circumstances, such as by texting while driving.
Causation – The injured plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant driver’s breach of the applicable standard of care, such as by texting while driving, was the factual and legal (or proximate) cause of all of the plaintiff’s injuries and damages.
Damages – The injured plaintiff must demonstrate that he or she sustained personal injuries and damages and that the defendant driver’s negligent and distracted driving caused the accident as well as the resulting injuries and damages.
In cases where distracted driving results in personal injuries and damages, the injured driver may be eligible to receive both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those damages which can reasonably be calculated in terms of dollars and cents. Noneconomic damages are intangible and typically go to pain, suffering, and permanency. Available types of compensatory damages in a personal injury case include the following:
- Payment of all hospital and medical bills and expenses
- Compensation for lost wages and time missed from work
- Compensation for all causally related past, present, and future pain and suffering
- Compensation for all causally related mental anguish and emotional distress
- Compensation for loss of earning capacity in cases of permanent impairment
- Compensation for permanency
- Payment of all related psychological or psychiatric treatment
- Compensation for loss of consortium, companionship, and/or spousal support
Contact a Clearwater Personal Injury Accident Lawyer Today to Discuss Your Case
Distracted driving, including texting while driving, may result in serious and sometimes catastrophic motor vehicle accidents, injuries, and damages. Our skilled personal injury attorneys have the necessary skills and expertise to assist you with your case and to help you obtain the monetary compensation you both need and deserve.
Our attorneys can also negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. If a favorable settlement is not reached, our attorneys welcome the opportunity to litigate your case and take it to mediation, arbitration, or trial if necessary.
To schedule a free consultation or case evaluation with Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, please call us at 727-853-6275 or contact us online.