Texting and Driving – Is it Really Worth It?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 2,800 people were killed as a result of distracted driving in 2018, and approximately 400,000 people were injured in crashes involving distracted drivers in the same year . Although there are no federal laws prohibiting texting while driving, California has implemented section 23123 of the Vehicle Code which makes it illegal for a person to drive a vehicle while using a wireless telephone, unless that telephone is specifically designed to allow hands-free listening and talking and is actually used in that manner while driving. While violation of the California Vehicle Code only results in a twenty-dollar fine for a first offense, the repercussions the driver will face in a civil lawsuit brought by someone injured as a result are much more severe.
The majority of car crashes that lead to civil lawsuits are the result of negligence by a driver causing injury to another, rather than by any intentional conduct on the driver’s part. In these cases, a plaintiff can seek an award of damages that includes past and future medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering damages resulting from both the injuries and the collision.
Recently, plaintiffs have begun seeking punitive damages, which are meant to punish a defendant for their conduct, against defendant drivers who were texting at the time of the accident that resulted in their injury. To succeed in a claim for punitive damages in California, you must be able to show that the defendant acted in a conscious disregard for the safety of others or acted in a way that was willfully indifferent. In the texting and driving context, it can certainly be argued that a texting driver acts in a reckless disregard for the safety of other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians by purposely taking their eyes of the road to look down at their cell phone to send a text message.
Although California courts have yet to rule on the issue, courts have clearly entertained the idea of allowing punitive damages in these types of cases. It seems that it will only be a matter of time before texting drivers who injure individuals will be hit with substantial amounts of punitive damages, all due to sending a simple text message.
In today’s society, everyone knows of the dangers of texting and driving. We constantly see commercials and billboards on a daily basis advising of such dangers; thus, there is no excuse for such negligence by driver’s who are texting and cause injury to others as a result. No matter how minor or major your injuries may be, if you are injured because of a texting driver’s negligence, you are rightfully entitled to compensation.
Being injured due to a texting driver’s negligence is something that no person should have to endure. If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a texting driver, Kramer Trial Lawyers is here to help and will fight for the compensation you deserve.
1 See https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/dangers-texting-while-driving for more data