Driving is a fact of life for many Florida residents. Floridians commute to and from work, drop children off at school and activities, and drive on the weekends for recreation and shopping. Many drivers understand the importance of paying attention and focusing only on the task of driving. But all too often, inattentive drivers prioritize other activities, such as text messaging or talking on the phone, over the responsibility of driving. When distracted driving results in an accident, it can lead to substantial damages.
If you were involved in a car accident with a distracted driver, the expert personal injury attorneys at Staples, Ellis + Associates, P.A. can assist you in recovering for damages. Experienced in representing the interests of injured parties, our attorneys know what to expect from defendants and insurance companies and can help you in your time of need.
Causes of Distracted Driving
Anything that takes a driver’s attention away from the road is a distraction. Therefore, virtually anything can cause a distraction that leads to an automobile accident. Common distractions include:
- Cell phones: Texting while driving, talking on the phone, and looking at screens are among the most common distractions plaguing drivers today.
- Food/Drinks: Eating and drinking while driving take hands off the steering wheel and place focus elsewhere. Shifting attention to clean up spills can also lead to an accident.
- Entertainment: Changing the radio station, selecting music in a streaming app, or even watching a movie or TV show while driving are all examples of distractions.
- Social media: Social media is pervasive these days. Many people post pictures to Facebook, Instagram, or Snap while driving. Additionally, live-streaming video or posting video to apps like TikTok can cause an accident.
- Navigation: Many drivers rely on GPS navigation to tell them where to go. Setting, adjusting, or even just looking at a GPS navigator can be a distraction.
- Intoxication: Although intoxication is an impairment of the body’s systems, it also prevents a driver from focusing on the task of driving.
There are many other types of distractions, such as adjusting the air conditioning or talking with a passenger. Anything that takes a driver’s hands off the steering wheel, causes a driver to remove his or her eyes from the road, or takes a driver’s mind off the task of driving is a distraction.
Liability for a Distracted Driving Accident
If an accident is the result of distracted driving, the distracted driver is responsible for any damages that occur. Florida courts recognize claims for accidents under the law of negligence. You may pursue a negligence claim through a lawsuit filed in Florida courts. While these cases often settle out of court without the involvement of a judge or jury, you may still need to file a lawsuit to force a distracted driver and/or an insurance company to participate in settlement negotiations.
What is Negligence?
Lawsuits under the theory of negligence involve accidents where one party’s failure to act reasonably under the circumstances causes harm or injury to another person. When it comes to driving, every driver is required to operate his or her automobile in accordance with Florida’s traffic laws and with the interest of keeping other drivers safe. Examples of negligent behavior while driving include: failing to stop at a stop sign, failing to signal, speeding, driving while intoxicated, and distracted driving. In many of these situations, it is unlikely a driver intends for others to be hurt from his or her actions, but the behavior may still cause an accident that injures other drivers.
To recover for injuries sustained during an automobile accident caused by distracted driving you must show the other driver owed you a duty to act reasonably safely toward you, that the driver failed to live up to that duty, that the driver’s failure actually caused your injury, and that you suffered damages as a result.
Distracted Driving and the Law
In 2019, Florida enacted a law that bans texting while driving. Florida Statute 316.305 prohibits texting or typing on an electronic device while an automobile is in motion. This law does not apply while an automobile is stationary, such as when stopped at a stoplight.
The statute banning texting while driving makes it easier to establish that a driver owed other drivers a duty because courts generally recognize that when a law prohibits conduct citizens are under a duty to avoid that conduct. Other examples of laws that impose a duty are those making it illegal to run stop signs or stoplights and those prohibiting driving while intoxicated.
While the distracted driver is at fault, many drivers do not have the means to pay for the damages caused by an accident. For this reason, Florida requires drivers to maintain liability insurance or be self-insured. If a driver has liability insurance, an injured party will often need to make a claim against both the driver and his or her insurance company. If a driver is self-insured, he or she is required to maintain a minimum number of assets that may be used to pay for damages the driver may cause.
Insurance companies do not like paying out claims to injured parties because it cuts into the companies’ profits. Because of this, insurance companies often make low-ball offers to settle the claims of injured parties, hoping there will be a quick settlement. While this may mean you get money more quickly, a prompt settlement may not fully compensate you for the full amount of your damages. If you are approached by an insurance company offering to settle your claims from an accident, it is important that you discuss the offer with a personal injury attorney to make sure the settlement being offered will properly compensate you for your damages.
Contact the Personal Injury Attorneys at Staples, Ellis + Associates, P.A. Today to Learn About Claims Against Distracted Drivers
Car accidents can cause many types of damages. There can be property damage to a vehicle, injuries to your body, and long term damages, such as the inability to continue working as a result of an injury. If you are involved in an accident with a driver you suspect was distracted at the time of the crash, you likely have claims against the driver for your injuries. The experienced attorneys at Staples, Ellis + Associates, P.A. can assist you in establishing the other driver’s liability and determining the amount of your damages. Contact Staples, Ellis + Associates, P.A. to get a trial-tested attorney on your side today.
The Distracted Driving Attorneys at Staples, Ellis & Associates serves clients in Pensacola County, Escambia County, Santa Rosa County, Okaloosa County, Walton County, and throughout Northwest Florida.