It’s nothing new that cell phones have had an adverse impact on safe driving and lead to a significant increase in car accidents, and an increasing number of cases for the average accident attorney. This has gone on since we had car phones in our cars (for those that remember), and as the phones began handheld and mobile, it was even easier to use while driving. Now, there are a few laws that say a driver cannot be on the phone and driving at the same time unless they are hands-free, but some states are taking matters into their hands and adding laws to prevent driving accidents.
California is one of those states, having just implemented a new law that says if a driver is to use their phone, it must be mounted on their dashboard or windshield, and be used only for a single swipe or a single tap of the finger. This means no texting while driving, and setting up your GPS before you begin driving. In the future, cell phone makers such as Apple have the idea to disable texting for those drivers, detecting their speed and locking their phone until they are stopped.
Why all the changes? There are an enormous responsibility and liability to those that are texting and driving, and crash their car as a result, as any personal injury lawyer will tell you. Those lawsuits are increasing with the more accidents that happen, and many of the situations are different.
Careless Driving: It’s Not That Uncommon
Using your phone is seen as both reckless driving and a breach of the duty of care. The main focus for your car accident lawyer is to show that you didn’t cause the accident, but cell phones make that very difficult. The duty of care is something that every driver enters into when they are driving, which means that they will do their best to keep both their passengers and other drivers on the road safe. Using a cell phone while driving is a blatant breach of that. Here’s how it can affect a driver:
• Taking eyes off of the road to look at or reach for a cell phone
• Driving with only one hand on the steering wheel instead of two
• Failure to pay attention to dangers and increased distractibility
• Slow response time to dangers
It’s difficult for the defense to win when they were using a cell phone which leads to the accident. Why? Juries tend to side with the plaintiff when it comes to mobile use, as the defendant having their phone on them at all almost implies a higher level of negligence. Not only is this a traffic offense, but it’s a quick guilty verdict, unfortunately for their car accident lawyer.
Parents and Their Cell Phone Carrying Children
Kids are using phones at younger ages now, and those that can drive can be as young at 16 years old and driving around with a phone in their hands. But what happens when that child gets into a car accident as a result of their cell phone use? Are they responsible, or is it the responsibility of the parents to enforce standards including no cell phones while driving? This is a real case that hasn’t been decided yet, but there may be an emphasis on parents providing their kids with hands-free options in the future.
Car Insurance Changes
For now, there is no coverage by insurance companies for those that frequently use a phone during their jobs. In fact, getting a ticket for driving with a cell phone is likely to raise your insurance payment by a decent amount. In fact, liability for mobile users has increased significantly over the past few years, and it’s not something that any insurance would likely cover because of the amount of money they’d have to pay out.
Unfortunately, cell phone records also give you away when you’re in a car accident, which is something the defenses’ car accident lawyer will know. If you claim that your phone wasn’t the reason for the crash, the defends personal injury lawyer can search cell phone records. These files will show where you were and at what time you were on the phone either texting or calling. If these match up with the accident scene, you’re likely to be held liable.