Three years ago, a twenty-seven-year-old Florida woman was killed after a truck driver ran a red light. The post-accident investigation revealed that the truck driver ran the red light because he was distracted and texting while driving. Since the accident, the woman’s family has pushed for a statewide texting-while-driving ban. The Florida Senate considered multiple bills that would prohibit texting while driving, but the Senate failed to pass a texting-while-driving law.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, about 20% of all automobile crashes resulting in injury involve reports of distracted driving. Texting while driving is particularly worrisome because it involves visual, manual, and cognitive distractions. Texting drivers take their eyes off of the road, their hands off of the steering wheel, and their mind off of driving.
In 2011, members of the Florida Senate will again attempt to pass a texting-while-driving ban. If the Senate succeeds and passes a texting law, that law could have an important impact on the legal landscape of texting-while-driving civil lawsuits.
Most automobile accident lawsuits involve the legal theory of negligence. Simply put, in order to successfully win a lawsuit based on the opposing party’s negligent driving, the plaintiff must submit evidence to prove that the defendant did not drive reasonably.
A law that bans texting while driving could make it a bit easier to win civil lawsuits against texting drivers. When a safety statute is on the books, like a texting-while-driving ban, the legal theory “negligence per se” often comes into play. Florida follows the negligence per se doctrine, which says that when a defendant violates a safety statute, and that safety statute was designed to prevent the type of harm that actually occurred and the class of plaintiffs that was actually injured, then the court will find that the defendant was actually negligent. For example, in civil drunk driving accident cases, once a plaintiff proves that a defendant violated the state’s laws on intoxicated driving, then that fact will usually be enough to show that the defendant was negligent.
Similarly, if the Florida Senate were to pass an anti-texting-while-driving law, plaintiffs would be able to invoke the negligence per se doctrine. Hypothetically, if a car accident occurred while a defendant was sending a text message, then the fact that the defendant broke a texting-while-driving law would be enough to show that he was also negligent.
If you were involved in a car accident caused by distracted driving, an experienced personal injury attorney help you to determine if you are entitled to compensation for your injury. Call the Florida injury lawyers at Anidjar & Levine at 800-747-3733 today for a free consultation.