For many people, their smartphone is their lifeline to the rest of the world. While an important communication tool, smartphones have their place, and that place is not in the hands of someone driving. Smartphone usage while driving accounts for more than 25% of all vehicle accidents. If you were struck by a driver who fell into this category – make sure you understand your rights.
Learn Your State Laws
State laws concerning the use of smartphones behind the wheel, known as distracted driving laws, vary widely. Not only are there different state guidelines, there are also guidelines based on the way the device is being used and the driver's status.
For example, in Arkansas, only drivers under the age of 20 are restricted from using their phone while driving; however, in Mississippi, it's only against the law for school bus drivers to use the phone when driving. Knowing this information is important because it helps you establish the foundation for which to base your claim.
Investigate Punitive Damages
In the court of law, a violation is a violation. However, there are certain violations that the law considers grossly negligent, such as reckless actions that disregard any level of care or regard for others. You may be able to seek punitive damages as part of your claim. These damages go above and beyond the cost of any personal injuries or property damage and serve to punish the driver and discourage them from engaging in such behavior in the future.
For example, even in a state where handheld use of a smartphone is not against the law, a driver that is using their smartphone to take pictures while also speeding in a heavy-traffic area could be classified as operating under gross negligence.
Realize That It's Not Their Word Against Yours
A common concern of accident victims is the fear that they won't be able to prove that the driver was on their phone. Whether you noticed the individual on their phone before they collided with you or another eyewitness shares this account, the fear is that the driver will deny it.
Even if they deny this claim, this doesn't have to be case closed. If you have sufficient evidence to support your claim, you may be able to petition the court to collect records from the driver's phone usage. Social media posts, text messages, browser searches, and phone calls are all time stamped, which can help you solidify your claim.
If you or a loved one has found themselves in this unfortunate situation, an attorney can work on your behalf to ensure your rights are protected. Click here for more information.