It is all too common to see drivers with cell phones to their ears or looking down into their laps, most likely texting. These distracted drivers are a danger to everyone on the roadways, as well as, pedestrians near the roadways. According to some reports, drivers talking or texting on their phones while driving are involved in at least 10 percent of fatal car accidents. If you or someone you know is injured or killed in a car accident involving a texting driver, you need to speak to a car accident attorney to determine your rights.
Why texting and driving is so dangerous
According to Distraction.gov, the federal government website dedicated to distracted driving, reports that when a driver is texting, their eyes are off the road for, at a minimum, five seconds. So much can happen in those five seconds and oftentimes does. Consequently, each state has enacted its own laws, either limiting or prohibiting cell phone use while on the road. An experienced car accident attorney will be familiar with the applicable laws in your case.
What is “distracted driving?”
The legal definition of “distracted driving” is “[a]ny activity a person engages in that has the potential to distract him or her from the primary task of driving.” There are actually three categories of activities that result in distracted driving: visual, manual and cognitive. Visual distractions occur when you take your eyes off the road, whereas manual distractions result when you take your hands off the wheel. Cognitive distractions are probably the hardest to avoid. As humans, distractions are inevitable and cannot be avoided altogether. But, eating while driving, results in all three categories of distracted driving; visual, manual and cognitive.
How big of a problem is distracted driving?
According to statistics published by the federal government, 3,154 people were killed, and more than 400,000 injured, in 2013 in car accidents involving distracted drivers. Twenty-year-olds have the largest proportion of drivers who are reportedly distracted, 10% of whom are involved in fatal crashes with a distracted driver.
If you have been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, you may be able to recover damages for those injuries. If you can prove that the driver was negligent or distracted at the time the accident occurred, you will likely have a good case. If you noticed that the driver was eating or engaging in any other distracted driving behavior, such as texting, talking on the phone, applying makeup, etc., those particular details are extremely important, and should be disclosed to your personal injury attorney.
Cell phone laws in Arkansas and Missouri
Many state laws regarding cell phone use by drivers are based on the age of the driver. In Arkansas, drivers age 18-20 are prohibited from using a hand-held cell phone while driving. Drivers under age 18 are prohibited from using any type of cell phone while driving, even so-called hands-free. All drivers in Arkansas are banned from texting while driving. Missouri, on the other hand, only bans texting by drivers under the age of 21.
Liability issues surrounding texting and driving
In every situation, drivers have a legal duty to operate their motor vehicles with care. They are required to pay attention to the road, to traffic, and the presence of pedestrians. They must stay alert to changing factors, such as speed, lane changing, and the sudden moves of other drivers. Texting while driving, as one of the worst forms of distracted driving, prevents even the most competent drivers from being able to fulfill their legal duties on the roadway. When a driver is careless or negligent in texting, or otherwise using your phone while driving, that driver may be liable for damages to the injured person.
Potential damages your car accident attorney can help you recover
In car accidents involving texting or cell phone use, the negligent driver can be ordered to pay damages to compensate the injured party for their various losses, including the following:
- Medical expenses, ambulance and medical expenses
- Mental anguish and pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium
- Damage to property, vehicle and body repairs, loss of personal property damaged or destroyed in the accident such as a computer, clothing, other items
- Incidental expenses, such as, crutches, nursing care, rental car fees, over-the-counter medications
If you have questions regarding car accidents, or any other personal injury concerns in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a consultation, either online or by calling us as (888) 433-4861.