If you suffered injuries in a wreck where the other driver was on their cell phone, they may or may not get a ticket, due to Florida’s lax laws about handheld cell phone use behind the wheel. However, even if the at-fault driver does not receive a citation, you may have a valid claim for financial compensation.
The Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers at the Law Firm of Anidjar & Levine can help you hold another driver responsible for negligent cell phone use behind the wheel. Contact us today at 800-747-3733 to schedule a free consultation.
How Dangerous Is Cell Phone Use While Driving?
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV), drivers using cell phones caused nearly 50,000 car crashes in 2016. These accidents caused more than 3,500 injuries and 233 fatalities. The DHSMV also reports that distracted driving crashes involving cell phone usage increased more than 26 percent since 2013.
What Are the Florida Laws for Drivers’ Cell Phone Use?
Compared to many other states, Florida laws regulating cell phone use behind the wheel are relatively lax. The state allows all drivers to use a mobile device to make calls while driving. It is illegal, however, to text and drive.
If you sustained injuries in an accident because another driver was on their cell phone, these laws do not relieve that driver of their responsibility for the accident. Instead, they only govern whether the police can cite the at-fault driver for a crime.
Florida may soon change its laws to ban the use of handheld electronic devices while driving. This move would bring the state’s laws into closer alignment with the U.S. trend of issuing citations to drivers who cause accidents while using their cell phones.
What If a Commercial Truck Driver Uses a Cell Phone Behind the Wheel?
Florida statutes do prohibit commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders from using a handheld device while operating a commercial vehicle. Commercial drivers who violate this law must pay a fine up to $2,750—depending on whether they have prior offenses—and, after three violations in a three-year period, they will lose their CDL.
These laws are strict because Fort Lauderdale truck accidents have the capacity to cause severe, life-threatening injuries to drivers and passengers in smaller vehicles. If a distracted truck driver caused your accident, our attorneys can help you fight for the extensive damages you need to recover.
How Can I Hold the Other Driver Liable for My Damages?
Even if the police do not issue a citation, the law holds drivers accountable if they cause car accidents while using a cell phone.
To file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company for settlement—or to file a lawsuit to recover damages—we need to prove the other driver’s negligence. This requires proving the following legal elements.
Duty of Care
The at-fault driver had a duty of care to the public, including other motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists, to devote their full attention to driving their vehicle. The duty of care covers behaviors such as not drinking and driving, not driving aggressively, not speeding or violating any traffic laws, and not allowing any distractions—including cell phones and other handheld devices—to take their attention away from the road.
Breach of Duty
If the at-fault driver engaged in any behavior that violates their duty of care, they are liable for the outcome. If a driver took their eyes off the road to make a call, read a text, or open an app, they have effectively breached their duty of care.
If the at-fault party’s breach of their duty of care leads to an accident, the law holds them responsible for the resulting damages. For example, if a driver looks down at their cell phone and fails to notice that traffic has come to a stop in front of them, they bear the responsibility for the resulting rear-end collision and any actual damages that result.
The final element necessary to prove negligence is actual damages. This means that we must prove you incurred actual damages—including injuries. We will demonstrate this by submitting your medical bills, receipts for expenses, car repair costs, and proof of lost wages. If you sustained long-term injuries or permanent disability, we will also include estimated future care costs and lost wages as a part of your claim, along with pain and suffering and lost life enjoyment.
Armed with this evidence, we will pursue a fair settlement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If they refuse to settle, we can file a lawsuit in court to recover compensation.
How Can I Get Legal Help With My Case?
If you sustained injuries in a car crash because the other driver was on their cell phone, the Law Firm of Anidjar & Levine is here to help. Call us at 800-747-3733 today.
We Can Help.