Injury, Divorce & Criminal Defense Blog

Liability for Texting Accidents

Representing Clients in Lowell, Tewksbury, Andover, Billerica, Middlesex County, and Throughout Massachusetts

Probably all of us have heard about the dangers of texting while driving, including studies that show that texting while driving can be as bad as, or perhaps even worse, than drunk driving. In the time that it takes to read a text message, compose a text message, or even simply look at an email or other content on a cell phone, a car or other vehicle can travel hundreds of feet or more. Meanwhile, a driver engaging in these activities will be nearly fully focused on their phone, with only a small awareness of what is happening outside of the vehicle through their peripheral vision. It’s clear to everyone how dangerous this condition can be, even at lower speeds.

Nonetheless, a huge percentage of our population engages in these activities, many on an everyday basis.

In response, many cities and towns have adopted ordinances and regulations prohibiting texting while driving. Some cities and towns have gone further, and have outlawed using a cell phone at all while driving (with some possible exceptions where cell phone usage is permissible if a hands-free set up is done).

According to the National Safety Council, the use of cell phones while driving is a factor in approximately 1.6 million vehicle crashes every year. About 330,000 injuries each year result from such crashes. Currently, texting or other cell phone usage is believed to be a factor in about one out of every four car accidents in the United States.

Proving Liability in a Texting Accident Case

Under injury law, all of us have a duty to act safely so that others are not injured by our actions. With respect to driving, this means that we must operate our vehicles in a safe manner, which generally means obeying traffic laws, not driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol, and being mindful of the actions of other drivers so that we can react accordingly.

Under the law, then, we have what is known as a “duty” to act safely. When we fail to act safely, we are said to have “breached” this duty. These are the first two elements for proving liability.

The third element for recovering in an injury case is to prove the damages and injuries that directly flowed from the “breach” of the “duty”.  At trial, it is up to a jury to determine the amount of the damages and compensation based upon the evidence presented concerning the damages and injuries sustained.

In a vehicle crash case involving texting or other distracting use of a cell phone, the legal argument to be made is that the driver responsible had the “duty” to others on the road to pay careful attention to their driving, and that they “breached” this duty by a distracting use of their phone so that they were unable to drive safely.

To make a client’s case in which texting or other inappropriate cell phone usage played a role in accident causation, I will want to subpoena the other driver’s cell phone records with respect to the use of the cell phone immediately prior to and immediately following a crash. This evidence can be critical in showing the driver’s lack of proper attention to the road, particularly if the driver was actively texting at the time of an accident.  Unlike other evidence, which may be somewhat imprecise with respect to what happened at a particular time, records of texting can be extremely helpful in making a case, as the dates and times of the texting will all be recorded.

Let Me Help You if You or a Family Member has been Injured in a Vehicle Accident

Please call me for a free consultation at a time convenient with your schedule. I accept injury cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning that there is no fee required unless I am able to obtain compensation for you.

 

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