Texting While Driving
In Florida, there is a dangerous item that is used in just about every vehicle - large and small - the mobile phone and the mobile smartphone. Distracted driving including texting while driving is a statewide problem in the State of Florida. It is also a major problem throughout the United States. The fact is that a driver cannot and should not text while driving. The act of texting while driving takes the eyes and mind off the the most important tasks at hand - the safe driving and operation of a motor vehicle. Far too many people ignore the dangers of texting while driving. Many people erroneously think that they can safely multi-task while driving. Some people even take it a bit further and drive under the influence AND text while driving. These particular drivers are truly menaces on our Florida roads, streets, and highways.
Section 316.305, Florida Statutes provides as follows:
(3)(a) A person may not operate a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters into a wireless communications device or while sending or reading data on such a device for the purpose of nonvoice interpersonal communication, including, but not limited to, communication methods known as texting, e-mailing, and instant messaging. As used in this section, the term "wireless communications device" means any handheld device used or capable of being used in a handheld manner, that is designed or intended to receive or transmit text or character-based messages, access or store data, or connect to the Internet or any communications service as defined in s. 812.15 and that allows text communications. For the purposes of this paragraph, a motor vehicle that is stationary is not being operated and is not subject to the prohibition in this paragraph.
When person is injured as a result of a driver who has been texting while driving, a claim or case can be pursued against the other driver assuming that the other driver was at-fault for the crash. Let's assume that Driver #1 (John) is slowing down at a red light and begins to text while driving. Driver #2 (Mary) crashes into John. While John was texting while driving, the fact that John was texting does not seem to come into play as to the fault for the particular accident or crash. Certainly, John violated Section 316.305 (3) (a), Florida Statutes; however, John was not at fault for the crash.
Let's consider another fact scenario or pattern. Let's say that Driver #1 (William) is texting while driving. William then drives right through a stop sign and crashes into Driver #2 (Wendy) in a T-Bone type of crash. Under this fact pattern, William was at fault for the crash. He was also determined to be texting while driving. A case or claim can be pursued against William for the personal injuries sustained by Wendy and by any passengers in Wendy's vehicle and any passengers in William's vehicle. In addition, it is position that a claim for punitive damages may be claimed if the texting while driving can be established. It should be noted that automobile insurance policies typically do not provide coverage for punitive damage types of damages.
It should also be noted that there are four elements of an automobile accident case or a personal injury case as follows:
- Breach of Duty;
- Causation; and
Certainly, texting while driving is a terribly dangerous act to engage in. However, the fact that the other driver was negligent in his or her driving AND was texting while driving do not constitute the entire case to evaluate. For instance, if a crash results in property damage only (no personal injuries) then the damages will be limited to that of the vehicle. In most Florida cases, personal injuries are required to seek out any damage for mental pain, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment life. In addition, under Florida's No Fault Laws, the injury sustained must be permanent in nature or involve permanent scarring to be entitled to mental pain, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life.
David A. Wolf is a Florida Personal Injury Attorney with over 27 years of experience handling personal injury cases including automobile accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents. He is knowledgeable as to the Florida statues and Lawson place as they pertain to the legal rights to compensation of injury victims. He has handled cases throughout the State of Florida. David A. Wolf is the author of several books on personal injury topics including the book titled - When the Wheels Stop Spinning - Legal Rights of the Injured Child - What You Need to Know Aftter the Accident. The book has chapters on Medical Bills, Medical Treatment, Automobile Insurance, Settlement and Compensation, and other topics. David A. Wolf offers a FREE CONSULTATION on all personal injury cases and, if the case is accepted, will handle the case on a contingency basis (NO RECOVERY - NO FEE).