Distracted driving continues to present a threat to public health and safety. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,450 people lost their lives as a direct result of distracted driving in 2016 alone. Although many different types of distracted driving exist, texting is one of the most dangerous types and often leads to serious injury. What happens if you sustain injuries in an accident involving a texting driver? Can you pursue a claim against the at-fault driver? The answer will depend on the circumstances which is why it is important to speak with a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.A. to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.
The Dangers of Texting and Driving
Any type of distracted driving can be dangerous, but some present a more serious threat than others. Public safety officers classify texting as one of the most dangerous types of distraction because it involves all three major types:
- A manual distraction involves any action that takes a driver’s hands off the wheel, such as holding a phone.
- A visual distraction takes their eyes off the road. When reading a text, a person takes their eyes off the road for an average of 5 seconds. Traveling at a speed of 55 mph, a person can travel the length of a football field without paying attention to their surroundings.
- A cognitive distraction takes a driver’s attention from the task of operating a motor vehicle. Reading a text or composing one requires mental energy that should be directed to the road.
Given that texting and driving involve all three major types of distraction, it’s easy to see how it can play a role in serious car accidents. If you’re a driver or pedestrian who sustained an injury in an accident with a texting driver, what are your options for legal recourse?
The Elements of a Car Accident Claim
Florida is one of many states that enacted a ban on texting and driving. This means that an injured driver may be able to file a claim against an at-fault driver under certain circumstances.
Our state is one of only a handful that observes a no-fault rule when it comes to car accidents. This means you can generally file a claim against your own policy to compensate for any damages you suffer in a car accident, regardless of who is at fault. However, you may still step outside the no-fault system and file a claim for damages in certain circumstances.
The no-fault system provides an important avenue of recourse for injured drivers, passengers, and pedestrians who suffer serious harm in a car accident. People who text and drive leave themselves vulnerable to claims, as an injured person can file a suit against them if one of the following exceptions to the no-fault system applies:
- You suffered a permanent injury. Often, texting and driving crashes occur at high speeds and can involve head-on collisions. These can lead to permanent disability such as paralysis or loss of function of a major organ or body part.
- Your damages exceed the $10,000 Personal Injury Protection threshold established by Florida insurance law. A person with a serious injury can easily incur more than $10,000 in medical bills and lost wages resulting from a car accident. Consider, for example, that the cost of diagnostic imaging alone can run into the thousands of dollars – before surgical intervention, treatment, or rehabilitation. A person with a fracture can expect to incur tens of thousands of dollars in medical costs.
Texting and driving is not only dangerous, but it’s also illegal under Florida law. If you recently suffered injuries in a texting and driving accident, you may be able to collect compensation for any damages you suffered by stepping out of the no-fault system. Speak to a car accident attorney in Fort Lauderdale to find out today!