September 2020

Cell phone use has never been higher. With cell phones now able to perform countless tasks, it seems as though some people never put theirs down. This is sadly true while driving as well, and it is contributing to an enormous number of distracted driving accidents in Miami. They pose an increased risk of injury to both other motorists and pedestrians.

Drivers of all ages are likely to engage in distracted driving. Research shows that teenagers are more likely to use their phones for texting, and using apps like Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram. The increased communication capabilities present in your phone make them much more apt to be used in a distracting manner.

Florida has the Ban On Texting While Driving Law, which makes it illegal to operate a vehicle while using a wireless communication device like a cell phone. Additional laws make it illegal to use such devices in work zones, school zones, and school crossings. Just using your cell phone while driving in Florida can mean criminal charges of distracted driving, which could cost a lot in areas like Miami. 

Moreover, if you cause an accident while being distracted in Miami, Florida, you may also be responsible for civil damages. It seems, however, that these penalties are not enough to deter some people from engaging in this increasingly dangerous behavior.

You Could Cause A Car Accident in Miami (or Anywhere)

One of the most likely, and serious consequences of using a cell phone while driving is the high possibility of causing a traffic accident. There are three primary distractions that occur when you use a cell phone and end up distracted while driving in Miami, which are:

  • Visual, i.e. taking your eyes off the road,
  • Manual, i.e. taking your hand off the wheel while driving,
  • Cognitive, a severe distraction, when the driver is thinking about something else other than driving.

Texting or using an app will foster all 3 types of distractions and should never be done while driving.

Your Insurance Company Can Raise Your Premiums

Using your cell phone while driving can result in tickets and fines. But, since Miami distracted driving offenses are serious violations, your insurance company can punish you for just one occurrence.

For example, if you are stopped and cited for using your cell phone in a Miami school zone, your premiums could rise on the first offense. For repeat violations, your insurance rates could be raised by a substantial margin.

Your Job Could Be Affected if You Are a Distracted Driver in Miami

Cell phone use while driving could even end up costing someone their job. A Miami, FL distracted driving violation can result in 3 points being added to your record, with additional points being assessed if the violation occurred in a work zone, school zone, or school crossing.

Depending on the number of points already on record, an automatic suspension of the driver’s license can occur. This could mean the loss of a job if driving is required to get to, or to perform, the job.

Drivers Using Cell Phones in Miami, Florida May Be Liable For Accident-Related Damages.

When one driver sues another driver for damages resulting from the accident, generally the plaintiff, the one bringing the lawsuit, will have to prove that the defendant caused the accident by driving carelessly. In recent cases, the courts agreed that a driver was negligent because they used a cell phone or another electronic device moments before or during the collision.

In some other Florida distracted driving cases, injured plaintiffs were found to have contributed to the accident. Thus, they shared liability because they were also using a cell phone while driving. 

Distracted Driving Examples

Some examples of cell phone use while driving include:

  • Driving with one hand on the wheel
  • Visual distraction and taking your eyes off the road to dial or text
  • Failure to have sufficient situational awareness, because of the cell phone’s distractions
  • Being distracted by a conversation on the phone, with emotionally charged conversations having the most impact

Costs Associated With Damages from Distracted Driving Accidents in Miami

If a distracted or careless driver in Miami causes an accident due to cell phone use while driving, they could be liable for damages sustained during the accident. Damages could include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages and inability to work
  • Personal care costs
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Scarring, disfigurement, impairments or permanent disability
  • Diminished quality and enjoyment of life

Cell Phone Use Resources

The NHTSA advised that there were over 2,800 deaths due to distracted driving just in 2018. Cell phone-related accidents happen twice the rate compared to drivers who are not distracted.

Texting and driving alone is responsible for half a million deaths or injuries every year. The US claims the dubious honor of having the largest problem with distracted driving in the world. Nearly 69% of all drivers between the ages of 18 and 64 say they have used their phones while driving during the last month alone.

Being distracted by texting while driving makes an accident more likely to occur by nearly 23 times on the average.

What’s Involved In A Miami Personal Injury Lawsuit for Distracted Driving

Gathering Evidence From the Scene of the Accident

When an accident results in an injury, the police determine if a cell phone was a factor in the accident. Law enforcement agencies have the authority to request and obtain cell phone records to prove if a driver was using the phone when the accident happened. 

If it is determined that one party was texting or talking on the phone when an accident happened, those records can be used to prove negligence or recklessness in Miami court during a personal injury claim. In addition to the phone usage records, the police can obtain GPS data, previous tickets and violations, closest security camera footage, witness dashcam footage and even traffic camera footage.

How a Distracted Driving Lawyer in Miami Can Help

If the plaintiff works with a Miami distracted driving attorney (such as Brian L. Elstein), they will take the time to expertly recreate the accident and examine how it happened. They will also review medical reports, driving history for both drivers, review any incident footage, talk to witnesses and create witness statements and will examine evidence collected that is related to possible distracted driving. The attorney will make a decision on whether they think the plaintiff will be entitled to recover damages in a lawsuit and receive compensation for things like lost wages, medical expenses and loss of earning capacity due to the injuries

If the defendant is found to have caused the accident, but the injured plaintiff was also found to have been using a cell phone during the accident, that could be a factor in the eventual attempt to recover damages or be relieved of liability in the Miami personal injury lawsuit. The use of a cell phone could be considered evidence of contributory negligence, meaning the negligence of the plaintiff could prevent them from getting the full amount of compensation requested for their injuries.

Each Distracted Driving Case in Miami Is Unique

Even if there is not a law against the exact behavior the defendant was engaged in during the time of the accident, any piece of evidence that may help prove distracted driving can be useful in a civil lawsuit with an aim to prove negligence.

Similarly to any other Miami personal injury lawsuit where a vehicle is involved, a personal injury suit centered around distracted driving would usually follow these general steps or phases:

  • Meet with an attorney who is an expert in the field, such as Brian L. Elstein, to discuss the case specifics and possibility of a lawsuit.
  • Start the case by having your Miami distracted driving attorney file the needed paperwork to a court.
  • Resolution before trial. If a trial judge determines the personal injury lawsuit in Miami to be frivolous or without merit, and since that determines there is no case, it may be dismissed. This is why it is important to consult with an expert lawyer first so that this is not a potential issue.
  • Settlement. If enough evidence is present to establish negligence, there is a possibility that the defendant’s counsel will offer to settle the case out of court.
  • Trial. If a settlement is not applicable or unsuccessful, a judge or jury will decide if there is enough evidence to establish negligence.
  • Judgment and collection.

Advice for Victims of a Distracted Driving Car Accident in Miami, Florida

If you believe that you have been the victim of a collision or other accident that is possibly due to the driver being distracted by a smartphone, you may be able to file against the driver for monetary compensation for the damages you sustained.

There is also the possibility that a personal injury lawsuit can be brought against the driver’s employer in some cases, as many employers require their employees to be always accessible via smartphone or other devices while driving.

Employers are one of many reasons that smartphone usage has spread to the degree that it has. Many now require a phone to be used in large capacity by those they employ. An experienced and capable distracted driving lawyer in Miami, FL like Brian L. Elstein may be able to help a victim of a distracted driving accident receive punitive damages.

If you feel you may have a Miami personal injury claim, contact Elstein Legal today. Have your case evaluated and we will determine if you may be entitled to the recovery of damages or additional compensation.

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