After a motor vehicle collision, determining who was at fault is often hotly contested by the parties. Unless you live in a “no-fault state”, the at-fault driver (or his insurer) is typically liable for the resulting medical expenses and property damage among other things. When one of the drivers is found to have been talking on his phone or texting, he is likely to face additional penalties and certainly is more likely to be the at-fault party in any motor vehicle accident case.
Using Cell Phones While Driving
Accidents resulting from distracted driving are on the rise. More people are losing their lives or suffering serious injuries in collisions caused by drivers who were texting or talking on their phones while driving. The emergence of smartphones has made the situation worse as many drivers engage in a variety of activities while driving including reading ebooks, checking social media, browsing the internet, messaging, watching videos, playing games and much more.
Most states have enacted laws prohibiting some or all types of distracted driving. Most states prohibit any form of texting, emailing or posting on social media. Some prohibit talking on a cell phone without a hands free device. Minors and school bus drivers in particular are prohibited from such activities. Penalties for violations are significant.
Liability in Accidents While Using a Phone
If you are a driver and you are found to be at fault for causing a motor vehicle collision, you will be liable for property damage and injuries caused by the accident. Most car accident cases are settled out of court with the insurance company paying the damages. However, it is still important to determine the facts concerning the crash in order to establish liability and extent of the injured party’s claim.
If your case goes to trial, a jury will be asked to decide both on liability and damages. There are two primary issues that the jury will consider:
- Whether the injuries were caused as a result of the defendant’s negligence.
- The amount of money that the injured party should receive for his injuries (including medical expenses, pain and suffering and lost income) as well as property damage.
In Louisiana, if it is found that both parties are at fault, percentages are awarded to determine the level of fault and any award is reduced proportionally by the amount of fault attributed to the victim.
Distracted Driver Rear-ended
In some instances, the driver who is texting or talking on the phone is also the victim and the collision was caused 100% by the other driver. A good example of this is when a driver is talking on his phone while stopped at an intersection and is rear ended by another vehicle. In this situation, the fact that the victim was on his phone at the time of the accident may not impact the damage award or settlement since the other driver was clearly at fault.
If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident, please call the Shreveport motor vehicle accident attorney at the Law Offices of J. Ransdell Keene.