Since the advent of cellular phones, GPS navigation systems, and other portable electronic devices, automobile accidents resulting from distracted driving have been on the rise. Florida, unfortunately, is no exception, according to statistics provided by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.1
When people think of distracted driving that involves the use of modern technology, they usually think of texting or making phone calls while driving (i.e. without the use of a hands-free cellular device, such as a Bluetooth system). However, other common types of technology-related distracted driving exist, including using or programming a GPS system while driving or playing or listening to loud music while driving.
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 distracted driver motor vehicle accident lawyers are ready to help you obtain the monetary compensation you need and deserve.
Our experienced attorneys can assist you with proving your case, negotiating with the insurance company, reaching a fair and equitable settlement of your case, and/or resolving your case via alternative dispute resolution (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. Florida’s recently enacted law which prohibits texting while driving, subject to some limited exceptions, 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 statute2 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.
As such, the Florida legislature has made it abundantly clear that, absent some limited circumstances set forth in the statute, texting while driving is improper. Some other examples of distracted driving which involve the use of modern technology include the following:
- Using or programming a cellular GPS or stand-alone GPS system while operating a motor vehicle
- Using or programming a handheld tablet or other electronic device while driving
- Listening to loud music or playing or programming a radio, CD player, or car audio system while operating a motor vehicle
- Listening to music through ear buds while driving
Proving Distracted Driving Under Florida Law
When a driver acts carelessly, recklessly, and/or negligently while operating a motor vehicle on the roadway, and a motor vehicle accident results, then that driver may be held accountable for injuries and damages sustained by the accident victim(s).
In personal injury cases, the injured driver (or accident victim) always has the burden of proving negligence on the part of the offending driver. In short, the injured driver must prove all of the following elements of negligence in order to receive a monetary award for damages sustained in a case of distracted driving:
Duty – The injured driver must demonstrate that offending driver owed a duty to everyone on the road to drive as an ordinarily reasonable and prudent person would have driven under the same or similar circumstances.
Breach – The injured driver must demonstrate that the offending driver breached the duty of care by acting unreasonably or imprudently under the circumstances. In other words, the injured driver must show that the offending driver was distracted (e.g., texted while driving) or otherwise engaged in careless or reckless conduct while driving.
Causation – The injured driver must demonstrate that the offending driver’s breach of the applicable standard of care was the factual and legal (or proximate) cause of all of the injured driver’s damages.
Damages – The injured driver must demonstrate that personal injuries or damages were sustained – and that these damages were caused by the offending driver’s negligence and/or distracted driving, which led to the motor vehicle accident.
In cases where distracted driving results in a motor vehicle accident, upon proving negligence on the part of the offending driver, the injured driver may be eligible to receive some or all of the following types of economic and non-economic damages:
- 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 damages
- Compensation for loss of earning capacity
- Compensation for permanency of injury
- Payment of all causally related psychological or psychiatric treatment
- Compensation for loss of consortium, companionship, and/or spousal support
Contact a Clearwater Distracted Driving Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer Today to Discuss
Distracted driving may result in serious – and sometimes catastrophic – motor vehicle accidents. Our experienced Clearwater distracted driving motor vehicle accident attorneys have the necessary skills and experience to assist you with your case and help you to obtain a favorable settlement, award, or judgment.
Remember that insurance companies are not on your side, and their goal is not to fully and fairly compensate you for your injuries and damages. Rather, insurance companies have their own interests at heart and will offer little-to-no money to settle your distracted driving motor vehicle accident case. Our experienced attorneys can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, and if no settlement is reached, can litigate your case to trial.
You can contact the experienced Clearwater distracted driving motor vehicle accident attorneys at Dolman Law Group today by calling 727-451-6900, or contact us online.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765