Driving is a task that might seem simple, but in reality, it requires a great deal of attention. Many of us likely can think of times when our focus was not entirely on the road ahead. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2,841 fatalities in 2018 occurred because of distracted drivers. Victims of those crashes include drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists. Of course, one of the riskiest behaviors is texting and driving. Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles points out that there are three categories of distracted driving: visual distractions, manual distractions, and cognitive distractions. Texting involves all three of these forms of distraction, making it one of the most dangerous things a driver can do while operating their car.
While drivers should know that texting and driving is dangerous, many people still engage in this hazardous behavior and place themselves and others on the road at risk. If you suffered an injury as a result of a distracted driver, you are likely angry and frustrated about the harm that the irresponsible individual caused you. At the Durham Law Group, our experienced Tampa distracted driving accident attorneys can help you recover compensation from a negligent driver.
Call us today at 813-333-6250 to speak to a compassionate attorney who can help you pursue your claim.
Distracted Driving and Negligence Claims in Tampa, Florida
Texting and driving is illegal in Florida, and recently, the state updated its statute to make this a primary offense. Now police officers can pull over a driver for texting and driving when previously they could only cite motorists for texting when they were pulled over for a separate reason. A full ban on handheld devices in school and work zones is also now in effect in the state.
The laws recognize the fact that road users in Florida are at risk when motorists are distracted. But if you are hurt by a distracted driver, you are likely less worried about the ticket that the driver might receive and more concerned with how you can start to heal and recover from your losses.
Negligence claims involve situations where a person is injured because another person failed to act as a reasonably prudent person. Most car crash claims are based on negligence, and the plaintiff must prove the defendant owed a duty of care, breached that duty, the plaintiff sustained harm, and the harm or injury was the result of the defendant’s breach of duty.
In some cases, such as those where a defendant violates a law, the plaintiff might have a shortcut in proving negligence. For instance, if the driver who caused a crash was texting at the time, then that driver was breaking the law. The violation of a safety-related statute that leads to an injury to a person that the law is designed to protect will make it easier for the plaintiff to prove his or her case.
Of course, distracted driving involves many other types of behaviors, including eating, managing pets, and talking to a passenger in the car. Any evidence of distraction can be used to build a negligence claim against the defendant, even if it will not provide a shortcut.
Proving that a Driver was Distracted in a Tampa, Florida Car Accident
When pursuing a negligence claim against a driver in Florida, you will need to show evidence of the driver’s negligence. In the case of a drunk driver, chemical tests will likely serve that purpose. If the driver ran a red light, witnesses might be able to confirm your version of the events. In most cases, the driver who caused the crash will not admit that they were engaged in dangerous behavior. When it comes to distracted driving, a motorist most likely will not say, “sorry, I was texting.” You will need to have evidence indicating that the person was texting or otherwise distracted. In some cases, you will be able to get the phone records for the driver, which might provide strong evidence that the person was on their phone. Other times, you might have to rely on witness statements. There are other ways to indicate that a driver negligently caused your injuries, and your best course of action is to discuss your claim with an experienced Tampa, Florida car crash attorney.
Damages in Distracted Driving Cases in Tampa, Florida
If you were injured because of a distracted driver, that person might owe you compensation for your injuries. Compensation in a car crash claim includes coverage for economic losses, as well as non-economic losses. Your medical bills and lost earnings that resulted from a crash are economic losses, as are future estimated medical bills and lost income. Non-economic damages are intended to compensate for your pain and suffering.
Florida also allows for punitive damages. Florida Statute Section 768.72 states that punitive damages may be awarded in cases where a defendant carried out “intentional misconduct” or “gross negligence.” Both circumstances go beyond the negligence needed to prove liability, and many cases will not meet this standard. However, some distracted driving claims might qualify for punitive damages, which are designed to punish the defendant rather than to compensate the plaintiff.
Contact the Durham Law Group Today After a Distracted Driving Car Accident in Tampa
At the Durham Law Group, our compassionate Tampa accident lawyers are ready to serve as your legal advocate and get you the help you need. Call 813-333-6250 to speak to an experienced Tampa, Florida, personal injury attorney.