The use of smartphones while driving is the number one cause for drivers to be distracted while operating their motor vehicle. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, distracted driving kills approximately 9 people every day in the United States. Below is a non-exhaustive list of ways people use their cell phone which distracts them while driving:
- Talking on your cell phone while driving, even if it is on speaker phone;
- Texting while driving;
- Reaching for your phone;
- Checking your GPS;
- Taking a photo or selfie;
- Checking your email; and/or
- Browse the internet.
Using your smartphone while driving puts yourself and other drivers on the road in danger.
What are Some Cell Phone Laws?
With the prevalence of cell phones, many states have enacted laws that relate to usage of cell phones while driving. Some states allow drivers to use their cell phone so long as it is hands-free (speaker/Bluetooth). Other states forbid all cell phone use while driving, even with hands-free devices by certain classes of drivers, such as drivers under the age of 18.
Many states also have laws that prohibit driving while texting. Typically these laws also prohibit the use of other gadgets that could significantly distract the driver, such as emailing, web browsing, using smart phone apps, playing cell phone games, etc.
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What if a Driver Using a Smartphone Injures Another Driver?
A defendant who is caught using a smartphone while driving can face criminal charges depending on the state where he resides. As each state has different laws with regard to cell phone laws, his punishment depends on the state where the accident occurs.
Even if the driver gets into an accident and injures a plaintiff in a state which does not prohibit the use of smartphones while driving, he can still face liability for negligently inflicting injuries on another.
What Should I Do if I’m Injured by a Driver Using a Smartphone?
If you’re involved in a car accident caused by a driver using a smartphone, you first need to make sure you and your passengers are unhurt. If you are injured, go to the hospital immediately. If you’re not injured and if no one has notified the police yet of the accident, call the police and give them an official statement.
Be sure to mention that the driver was using his cell phone at the time of the incident. Ask any witnesses to give a statement to the police as well. Finally, when you’re able, call your insurance company and let them know about the accident.
How Can a Plaintiff Recover Damages?
To successfully use negligence in a tort action, the plaintiff must prove:
- the defendant had a duty of care;
- the duty of care was breached; and
- the plaintiff was injured as a result.
A negligence tort for a smart phone car accident must prove these three elements in order for the plaintiff to recover damages. Drivers have a duty of care to care for other drivers, and if using the smart phone while driving is against the law in the state where the accident occurs, the plaintiff may be able to argue that the duty of care was breached.
Should I Consult an Attorney if I’m Injured by a Driver Using a Smartphone?
Personal injury lawyers and automobile accident lawyers are essential in order to win car accident lawsuits. This is a very complicated area of the law, especially if the defendants include car manufacturers, parts manufacturers, mechanical servicers, or parties other than the driver at the time of the accident.
It is especially important to hire a personal injury attorney if your injuries are serious. The more money needed to compensate for damages, the more important it is to have adequate representation during settlement negotiations and trial.