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Courts Determining Liability for Texting While Driving

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for distracted driver.jpgDistracted driving has quickly become a national hazard. All over the country, and right here in Georgia, we are seeing more and more dangerous driving that leads to motor vehicle injuries and death. In my work as an Atlanta car accident lawyer, I have followed the legal developments in distracted driving.

The courts are working through the many issues that have arisen in the use of cell phones and other devices while driving. One area in which the law is developing relates to the employer’s liability for their employee’s texting while driving which results in injury or death. Often the companies that employ the drivers involved in these accidents are sued along with the driver.

According to a recent report in The Washington Post, the jury awards against these companies can be in the millions. For example, in Alabama a trucking company was ordered to pay $18 million when a driver reached for a cell phone and caused a serious accident. Another company paid more than $16 million. Some of these cases are settling out of court so that the company does not have to face a jury trial with their employee as the defendant driver.

Accident reconstruction experts now have tools available to them to use in determining the driver’s texting or cell phone activity at the time of the accident. The detection technologies are becoming more and more precise. It is possible to look at the data and determine the precise moment of impact as it relates to an active phone call or text that could have distracted the driver and possibly have avoided the accident altogether.

Some courts are looking at how far the liability goes in a distracted driver case. A recent New Jersey case illustrates the point. In that case, motorcyclists suffered severe injuries when a texting driver hit them. The person who had sent the text was found not to have aided and abetted the driver who was directly liable for the injuries. In that case, the judge did not see the imposition of liability on the sender as reasonable.

A recent decision by a Florida judge expanded liability caused by texting while driving in that he granted the plaintiff’s motion to allow punitive damages in a civil negligence suit. This is likely in part because eye witnesses contradicted the driver’s account of the accident and when she says she stopped texting while driving. The witnesses’ car was almost hit before the accident occurred.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver, it is important to get guidance and representation by an experienced lawyer. Charles Scholle has over two decades of experience in representing accident victims who are suffering due to the negligence or recklessness of another person or persons. Please contact our law firm for a free consultation with Charles Scholle.