What Happens if a Device Distracted Driver Hit Me?
Because the Sunshine State has such a limited cell phone ban, many victims believe they have no legal recourse if distracted drivers hit them. Yet despite the narrow nature of this law, almost all victims have legal options, as outlined below.
If they follow the right path, Tampa distracted driving attorneys can normally obtain compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. This compensation puts victims on the pathway to complete recovery.
If the tortfeasor (negligent driver) was using a hand-held cell phone to talk or text, the negligence per se shortcut usually applies. Tortfeasors are presumptively liable for damages if:
- They violate a non-penal safety law, and
- That violation substantially caused injury.
Victim/plaintiffs usually need to present additional evidence, which is discussed below, in order to obtain maximum compensation in these cases.
If this doctrine is unavailable, and it usually is in distracted driving claims, victim/plaintiffs can use the ordinary negligence doctrine to establish liability. This theory has four basic prongs:
- Duty: Most noncommercial drivers have a duty of reasonable care. They must avoid accidents when possible and drive defensively. Most commercial operators, like Uber drivers, have a higher duty of care.
- Breach: The victim/plaintiff must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not), that the tortfeasor breached this duty. Evidence of breach in a device distraction claim includes cell phone use records and erratic driving prior to the crash.
- Cause: There must be a direct connection between the breach and the damages. However, if a distracted driver ran a red light and caused a crash, the distraction, and not the red light violation, substantially caused the crash.
- Damages: A near miss, although it might cause substantial personal injury, is not actionable. Additionally, if the crash did not cause a serious injury, compensation is limited under the law.
Florida law defines a serious injury as death, significant disfigurement or scarring, loss of an important bodily function, or any permanent injury. Typically, if your car was not drivable after the wreck, the collision probably involved a serious injury.
Resolving the Claim
Most distracted driving claims settle out of court for good reason. So, an attorney must be more than a strong advocate. An attorney must also be an effective negotiator.
Negotiation success is usually directly related to the amount of preparation. In this context, that preparation involves evidence collection, as outlined above, and setting the case’s settlement value.
To determine settlement value, which is a starting point for settlement negotiations, most attorneys double or triple the economic losses, add that total to the economic losses, in consideration alongside other relevant factors.
Connect with Thorough Lawyers
Distracted drivers often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Tampa, contact The Matassini Law Firm. You have a limited amount of time to act.