Was distracted driving a factor in your car crash?
You may need a Tampa car accident lawyer.
The problem of distracted driving has reached epidemic proportions in the United States, including right here in the Tampa Bay area and throughout the state of Florida. Most driver distractions can be classified into three main categories:
Distractions that take your eyes off the road
Distractions that take your hands off the wheel
Distractions that take your mind off driving
In the case of texting while driving, it involves all three types of distraction, making it one of the most dangerous of distracted driving behaviors. In fact, you may have heard that answering a text message takes away your attention for about 5 seconds, which, when traveling at 55 mph, is enough time to travel the length of a football field.
Other statistics reveal how widespread and serious the problem of texting and driving is in America:
- 1 out of every 4 car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving.
- You are 6 times more likely to cause an accident while texting behind the wheel than when driving drunk.
- Cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year, according to the National Safety Council.
- Nearly 390,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting while driving.
- Every day, an estimated 660,000 drivers use electronic devices while behind the wheel.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident due to another person’s negligence, it’s vital that you consult with an experienced Tampa car accident lawyer immediately. Our knowledgeable attorneys will be able to mount a claim to help you attain the outcome you deserve.
Do you suspect the driver who caused your car accident was texting and driving?
You may be eligible for financial compensation.
Learn more about your rights by completing our free case review form today.
Florida Cell Phone & Texting While Driving Laws
Texting while driving is illegal in the Sunshine State. Under Florida law and Tampa ordinance, when a person is operating a motor vehicle, they cannot utilize a cell phone or smartphone for the purposes of texting, e-mail or anything that distracts them from the road. Talking on the phone while driving is still legal in Florida (for now), but it is not recommended.
Florida’s Ban on Texting While Driving Law clearly states:
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. (FS 316.305)
The only exceptions to this law are emergency vehicle operators (police, ambulance, fire fighters, etc.), drivers who are reporting criminal or emergency activity to authorities, and those using their mobile device or a GPS system for navigational purposes.
People caught texting while driving are subject to a traffic citation. Cell phone use behind the wheel of a car is currently a secondary offense in Florida, meaning a driver can only be given a citation after being pulled over for a primary offense such as speeding or running a red light. A driver cannot be pulled over just for texting and driving in Florida.
Currently in Florida, a person can use their cell phone while behind the wheel if they’re stopped at a red light. They can also use hands-free devices as long as it doesn’t distract them from driving safely. However, new legislation is being proposed that may soon make any use of cell phones while behind the wheel illegal.
Teens Texting and Driving: Statistics and Facts
Teen drivers are at a greater risk of accidents due to their lack of experience behind the wheel. The use of a cell phone has been determined to be even more dangerous than intoxication at impairing a driver’s ability to react to their surroundings and make sound judgment calls. When a young, novice driver uses their phone while driving, they are putting themselves and others at serious risk of injury.
Here are some other shocking teenage texting and driving statistics:
- 94 percent of teen drivers acknowledge the dangers of texting and driving, but 35% admitted to doing it anyway.
- More than 1 in 5 teen drivers involved in fatal accidents were distracted by their cell phones.
- Teen drivers are 4 times more likely to get into car crashes or near-crashes when talking or texting on a cell phone compared to adults.
Proving Liability & Negligence in Florida Distracted Driver Accident Cases
Cell Phone Use by the Defendant
If a driver was texting and driving or engaging in some other unlawful cell phone use when behind the wheel and they caused a car accident, and another person was injured as a result, the at-fault driver can be held liable for damages under Florida personal injury law. Under Florida’s mandatory PIP (personal injury protection) auto insurance coverage, the at-fault driver’s insurance will pay for accident damages—including when a crash was caused by a distracted driver who was texting and driving. However, if damages exceed the limits set by the insurance policy, then a defendant may be on the hook for additional compensation.
Cell Phone Use by the Plaintiff
Even if a driver is injured because of someone else’s negligence, but they were using their cell phone unlawfully when the crash occurred, a court may find that they at least partially contributed to their own injuries by not paying closer attention to the road. The defense may argue that the individual would have been able to avoid the accident had they not been using a phone.
Cell Phone Use by Both Parties
Florida operates under a comparative negligence system. This means that the courts or the insurance carriers may have to determine the amount of liability that each particular party shares following an accident. Under comparative liability, one party may not be 100% at fault. If someone is partially responsible for their own injuries, the compensation they receive may reflect that. In such cases, an experienced and knowledgeable attorney will be able to help you understand your degree of fault in a Tampa car accident case.
Talk to a Skilled Tampa Distracted Driving Attorney
Experienced Tampa car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Tragos, Sartes & Tragos know to ask for phone records to submit as evidence in cases where the defendant was using their phone at the time of the accident. Few people will willingly admit to using their phone when they have caused an accident, and obtaining phone records is one way for plaintiffs to support their claim.
Our knowledgeable car accident attorneys in Tampa and Clearwater can request the appropriate cell phone tower information and call records from the insurance carrier of the individual who may be at fault. Those records will dictate specifically when a particular call was placed, or whether an individual was speaking on the phone at the time of impact.