Texting and driving are illegal in New York due to the high probability that doing so will result in an automobile accident. In fact, using a cell phone while driving is consistently identified as the top reason distracted driving accidents happen. A person who causes one of these wrecks can expect to be criminally prosecuted but may also be held civilly liable for the victim’s injuries. Were you or a loved one hurt because another driver was texting from behind the wheel? Talk to the dedicated accident lawyers of Miller, Montiel, & Strano, P.C.
What Makes Texting and Driving So Dangerous?
When a car is driving at 55 miles per hour, and the driver takes his eyes off the road to send or receive a text, it is equivalent to driving the length of a football field with one’s eyes closed. The lack of focus, along with the speed and trajectory of the car, make texting a serious threat to the safety and lives of others.
Certain factors can make texting while driving even more dangerous. They include:
Violating other traffic laws. Speeding above the posted limit, ignoring traffic signs and signals, and other traffic infractions – when combined with texting while driving – can make for a catastrophic and deadly accident.
Environmental conditions. Extra caution should always be used when driving in inclement weather, during limited visibility, and in the absence of lighting. Texting during such conditions is extremely unsafe.
Heavy traffic. You’re guaranteed to encounter heavy traffic virtually everywhere in New York, which is just one more reason the laws prohibit cell phone use while on the road.
Drug or alcohol use. The use of drugs or alcohol can impair judgment and delay reaction times. Since texting is already a major distraction, doing so while intoxicated will increase the chances of a wreck.
Unfamiliarity with the area. It’s not uncommon for motorists to use texting to figure out where someone is located when they are driving in an unfamiliar area. But that’s no excuse for violating the law and putting the lives of others in jeopardy.
If there is evidence of these additional factors in your texting and driving accident case, your attorney will use it to further demonstrate how negligent the at-fault driver was. A criminal conviction against the driver can also support your case.
The Link Between Criminal and Civil Liability
New York was the first state in the country to prohibit hand-held phone use in 2001, even before texting became as commonplace as it is today. The law has gradually been strengthened over the years and is designed to address not only texting while driving but related activities such as:
- Sending and reading emails
- Reading online articles
- Posting on social media
- Typing on your phone
Someone who causes an accident can be criminally charged if the wreck results from texting while driving. The accident victim can separately pursue a personal injury case against the responsible driver to recover monetary damages. This is where the legal doctrine of negligence per se could prove useful to your case.
Negligence means proving that someone breached the duty of care they owed others by acting in an irresponsible manner (or failing to act at all), thereby injuring someone in the process. Negligence per se is different and essentially means “negligence in itself.” It is applied where certain acts or omissions are assumed to be negligent because they are also illegal.
If the driver broke the law in causing the accident, this fact will make it much easier to prevail in your civil case. Although demonstrating negligence per se does not mean you automatically win your personal injury lawsuit (because there are other elements you need to prove), it can be a tremendous help to your case.
How to Prove Texting While Driving
All of this raises the question of how exactly the victim goes about proving the crash was caused by texting. Doing so requires the assistance of an experienced automobile accident attorney, who can take such steps as:
- Subpoenaing the wireless phone provider to obtain data concerning when text messages were exchanged
- Obtaining surveillance camera footage (including from traffic cameras) to determine what the driver was doing at the time of the accident
- Police officer testimony
- Eyewitness testimony
- Driving behaviors, such as drifting in and out of traffic lanes, that evidence distracted driving
- Accident reconstruction from an expert witness
- Evidence from the criminal trial
Your attorney’s job will be to investigate the accident and assemble the evidence needed that points to the driver’s negligence. If a settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance company is possible and reasonably covers your damages, then efforts will be directed to negotiations. However, if the insurance company or the driver’s lawyer refuses to negotiate in good faith, we are prepared to take your case in front of a jury.
Potential Damages in a Texting and Driving Lawsuit
Every personal injury claim is different, and the nature and amount of your potential damages will be unlike those of someone else. In general, however, texting while driving accident victims can seek the following monetary damages for the physical injury and the resulting disability they have suffered:
- Medical bills, such as hospitalization, ambulance, surgery, lab work, medical equipment, and other costs
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
- In-home personal care for victims with permanent injuries
- Lost income and lost future income
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- In some cases, punitive damages (designed to punish especially malicious conduct)
- In the event the victim dies, certain wrongful death damages
Contact Our Queens Texting and Driving Car Accident Attorney
Everyone in New York, from drivers and motorcyclists to bicyclists and pedestrians, has the right to expect that traffic laws will be followed. When someone chooses not to, and they injure someone else, the victim deserves compensation. Miller, Montiel, & Strano, P.C. is here to help texting-while-driving accident victims get their lives back to normal. Call us today to learn more.