Direct and Circumstantial Evidence in Distracted Driving Crash Claims
Many people multitask their way through the day. A famous mother once said she could simultaneously feed her infant son, cook dinner, drink a glass of milk, and talk on the phone all at the same time.
Such multitasking is acceptable in the living room or kitchen, but it is very dangerous behind the wheel of fast-moving vehicle. Driving and adjusting to ever-changing traffic conditions requires too much concentration. Therefore, it is not surprising that distracted drivers seriously injure thousands of people daily.
In 2019, Florida lawmakers approved a limited hands-free law. This law bans some device usage. But that ban only goes so far.
So, distracted drivers are still a fixture on Hillsborough County roadways, and these drivers often cause serious crashes. Because these drivers arguably disregard the safety of others, a Tampa personal injury attorney can normally obtain substantial compensation in these cases. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Direct Evidence in Distracted Driving Cases
Under Florida law, it is illegal to text while driving. “Texting” includes sending or reviewing any text-based communication, including emails and social media posts. It is also illegal to hold a device in certain areas, such as construction zones and school zones.
If tortfeasors (negligent drivers) violate the expanded cell phone law and cause crashes, they might be responsible for damages as a matter of law. Evidence of device use in the moments before a crash includes:
- Call records,
- Text message logs, and
- Tortfeasor’s statements to emergency responders.
Attorneys must act quickly to preserve call logs and other physical evidence. Unless a lawyer sends a spoliation letter, the tortfeasor might “accidentally” destroy such evidence. It’s usually possible to recover deleted cell phone files, but the process is expensive, time-consuming, and uncertain.
Generally, violating the cell phone law is only a presumption of negligence. To establish liability, victim/plaintiffs must present additional evidence, such as repeated device use in the moments before a crash.
Circumstantial Evidence of Negligence
Florida’s distracted driving law has a number of holes. It does not apply to video watching, picture taking, game playing, web surfing, and the many other non-texting uses that smartphones have. Additionally, the law only applies if the car was in motion at the time.
All these activities constitute distracted driving. Scientifically, this conduct includes any behavior which causes tortfeasors to:
- Take their eyes off the road (visual distraction),
- Take their minds off driving (cognitive distraction), or
- Take a hand off the wheel (manual distraction).
Note that hands-free phones and GPS navigation devices, which are legal in Florida, are cognitively and visually distracting. Additionally, hands-free devices give many drivers a false sense of security, so they take unnecessary chances.
The cell phone law also does not apply to non-device distraction. Such behaviors include eating while driving, drinking while driving, and talking to passengers while driving.
Non-device distraction claims are not easy to win. Many jurors do not consider behavior like eating while driving to be very serious. So, in order to obtain fair compensation, attorneys must work extra hard during the evidence collection phase.
Count On Dedicated Lawyers
Distracted driving crash victims usually have several legal options. For a free consultation with an experienced Tampa distracted driving lawyer, contact The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. Home and hospital visits are available.