Cell phones and other mobile devices are very popular. Unfortunately, some people do not put these devices down when they get in a car to drive. State officials in California have estimated that distracted driving is a factor in 80% of motor vehicle accidents. Many accidents result from texting while driving, which is a form of distracted driving. Reading a text on average pulls a driver’s eyes off the road for five seconds. If a driver is traveling at 55 mph on the highway, those five seconds are equivalent to traveling the length of a football field blindfolded. At The Law Office of Black & DePaoli, PC, our principal is a knowledgeable Folsom car accident lawyer who may be able to recover damages for you after a texting while driving accident caused by someone else.
Texting While Driving Accidents Can Cause Serious Harm
Texting while driving is unsafe. Under California Vehicle Code section 23123.5, it is unlawful to read, write, or send a text-based communication while driving. In other words, you cannot use an electronic wireless communications device of any kind to manually communicate with another person. Starting in 2017, drivers in California are not allowed to hold their cell phones in their hands for any reason either. This means that they cannot play games on apps, scan social media, or type an address into GPS, along with not being allowed to text. They can use their cell phone hands-free through voice operation and activation, as long as the phone is mounted on the dash or windshield.
It is likely that you will be able to establish negligence if you can show that another driver was texting while driving and that this was the cause of your accident. You may also be able to show that the other driver was negligent per se because they violated the texting while driving or hand-held cell phone rule. Negligence per se exists when a driver violates a safety law that was designed to prevent the type of accident that resulted from the violation.
What if the other driver refuses to admit that they were texting while driving or otherwise using a cell phone while driving? What if they claim that you were to blame? It may be possible to recover the defendant’s phone records or cell phone during the discovery phase of litigation and make a determination from that information. This evidence can be presented to the jury to show the defendant’s negligence.
If the defendant claims that you were partially to blame, this invokes the defense of comparative negligence. This means that your phone or phone records may be compelled during discovery. The jury can assign a percentage of fault after reviewing the evidence and arguments, and your damages will be reduced by any percentage of fault. For example, if both drivers were texting before the crash, the jury may decide that they were equally to blame. If the total damages were $150,000, the plaintiff would be able to recover up to $75,000.
Damages that may be recovered include any item of loss that will compensate you for the harm arising out of the defendant’s texting while driving. Items of loss can be economic and noneconomic, and they may include property damage, out-of-pocket costs, medical bills, hospital bills, emergency services, household services, lost wages, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of consortium.