Florida Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer
Hundreds of accidents occur every year because of driver distractions. Drivers pay more attention to their cell phones, children, pets, and passengers in their cars, or the scenery around than they do on the road. Distracted driving involves any activity that diverts your attention from the task of safe driving. It includes talking or texting on the phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in the vehicle, fiddling with the radio, or using navigation systems. Most distracted driving actions, though dangerous are legal.
The Florida Department of Transportation defines Distracted Driving as “anything that takes the driver’s attention away from the vital task of driving”.
There are three types of distractions that drivers should be aware of :
TYPES OF DISTRACTIONS.
Anything that diverts a driver’s attention away from the road is a distraction. These distractions can be categorized into three types:-
Distractions that cause a driver to take his or her eyes off the road. These include,
- Looking at the phone screen.
- Using vanity mirror to check appearance or for the purpose of self-grooming.
- Looking behind at unsecured children or pets in the backseat.
Distractions that involve a driver taking his hands or hand off the steering wheel. These include,
- Texting, talking or calling on the phone.
- Eating, drinking, or smoking while driving.
- Adjusting radio or mirrors.
- Using a navigation system.
- Rummaging through personal belongings.
- Grooming oneself while driving.
- Looking at Billboard advertisements.
- Engaging on social media Apps on the phone while driving.
Distractions that take a driver’s mind off the road. These include,
- Listening to loud music.
- Having a conversation with passengers in the car.
Texting while driving is the most common form of distracted driving.
Currently, the State of Florida prohibits:
- Reading, writing, or sending text messages while driving.
- The use of hand-held communication devices in active school and work zones.
STARTLING FACTS AND STATISTICS ON DISTRACTED DRIVING.
Distracted driving is associated with some startling facts and is responsible for some horrifying statistics. Some of these include:-
- Florida holds the dubious distinction of being the state with the second worst record for distracted driving.
- Distracted driving is responsible for nearly 50,000 crashes in Florida. That is an average of 137 distracted driving crashes in a day.
- More than 200 people are killed every year in Florida due to distracted driving accidents.
- According to the NHTSA, 660,000 drivers in the country use electronic devices and gadgets while driving.
- About 9 people are killed every day due to crashes involving a distracted driver.
- 87% of rear-end collisions involve some form of distracted driving.
- Every year, distracted drivers are responsible for about 2.5 million car crashes in the country.
- Over 1000 people are injured every day in crashes caused by distracted drivers.
- Removing eyes from the road for just 2 seconds doubles the risk of a crash.
- Texting and driving is 6 times more likely to lead to a car accident than drunk driving.
- Distracted driving was responsible for 14% of all police-reported motor vehicle traffic accidents.
- 39% of Americans admitted to shopping on their mobile devices while driving.
- Teen drivers aged 15 to 19 were most likely to be involved in fatal distracted driving crashes.
- 86% of people reported that they would feel very unsafe in a car with a driver who was texting or emailing while driving.
PROVING FAULT IN DISTRACTED DRIVING CASES.
Accidents involving distracted driving occur in an instant, but claims seeking compensation for victims of such negligent and careless conduct do not. The injured person must prove to a Judge or jury that the alleged distracted driver was indulging in something else other than keeping his or her eyes on the road ahead.
Distracted driving is a form of negligence. Negligence is defined as “Failure to take reasonable care to avoid causing injury or loss to another person.”
To prove negligence, the plaintiff (the injured party) must establish beyond reasonable doubt the following four main elements:-
- The defendant (the accused party) owed the plaintiff a reasonable duty of care.
- The Defendant breached his or her duty of care.
- The breach of duty by the Defendant caused the accident.
- The accident caused compensable damages.
ENFORCEMENT OF DISTRACTED DRIVING LAWS IN FLORIDA.
Although Governor DeSantis signed into law a bill making texting and driving a primary traffic offence, drivers continue to use phones to text and send emails while driving.
Section 316.305, Florida Statutes came into effect on July 1, 2019. Motorists can be stopped and fined for texting and driving.
The second part of the law, section 316.306, Florida Statutes, came into effect on October 1, 2019, in which motorists can be pulled over and issued a warning for using a wireless communication device in a hand-held manner in a active school or work zone.
PENALTY FOR DISTRACTED DRIVING IN FLORIDA.
In Florida, the penalty for a violation of the State distracted driving laws is as follows:
For texting and driving, Section 316.305, Florida Statutes,
- First Offence: Non-moving traffic violation with a base $30 fine. No points assessed against the driver’s license.
- Second Offence: Within five years of a moving traffic violation with a base $60 fine. 3 points assessed against the driver’s license.
- For not using a device hands-free in a school or work zone: Moving traffic violation with a base $60 fine (section 316.306, Florida Statutes). 3 points assessed against the driver’s license.
The amount you will be expected to pay is often higher than the fine, since Court costs and fees are added in.
DISTRACTED DRIVIG INCREASES INSURANCE RATES IN FLORIDA.
A first offense is not likely to affect your insurance rates since no points are assessed against your driving record.
However, if you are cited for violation a second time within five years, you get 3 points assessed against your record. This can lead to a significant increase in your insurance rates. It can also cause you to lose your good driver discount if you had earned one.
WHAT IS BEING DONE BY FLORIDA TO TACKLE THE MENACE OF DISTRACTED DRIVING.
Florida is making an effort to reduce the alarming rise in distracted driving accidents in the state. Some measures undertaken by it include:
- Running campaigns to increase awareness about distracted driving amongst Floridians. These campaigns are funded by the State of Florida and focus on minimizing the number of accidents caused by distracted driving.
- Encouraging employers and entities to adopt distracted driving policies.
- Enacting stricter laws to deter Floridians from indulging in distracted driving.
- Educating law enforcement and others on laws that are applied in distracted driving cases.
TIPS TO PREVENT DISTRACTED DRIVING.
Distracted drivers fail to keep their focus on the road and cause accidents. Some measures to help you drive more safely include :-
- Never use your cell phone while driving.
- Use your cell phone for emergency purposes only. Turn off your notifications before you start to drive.
- Pull off the road entirely and come to a complete halt if you have to make an emergency call.
- Familiarize yourself with local laws as some Counties in Florida ban all cell phone use while driving.
- Drivers should never multi-task while driving. This includes texting, making video calls or posting on social media while driving.
- Avoid eating and drinking while driving. Finishing your meals on the way to work or school may seem a time-saver, but it leads to you being less attentive to the other drivers around you. Food spills are a major cause of driver distraction.
- Drivers should never dress or groom while driving. One should do so prior to getting behind the wheel.
- Drivers should keep their eyes on the road and avoid looking at eye-catching billboards or beautiful scenery while driving. One should pull off the road and stop at a safe spot to admire scenery and click photographs.
- Never drive drowsy. Drowsy drivers should pull off the road and find a safe place to rest.
- Driving with clutter all over your vehicle is a recipe for distractions. Drivers should store items in proper compartments and should not reach for them while driving.
- Drivers should set GPS, climate control, and adjust mirrors and seats before starting their journey.
COMPENSATION FOR A VICTIM OF DISTRACTED DRIVING ACCIDENT IN FLORIDA.
Factors that determine the amount of compensation a victim of a distracted driving accident might recover include:
- The severity of the injuries.
- The value of the medical expenses.
- Whether the victim can establish that the distracted driver or the responsible party was at fault.
- Whether the victim has missed time from work due to the accident.
- The Victim’s age.
- The impact of the accident on the victim’s lifestyle and quality of life.
Motorists, passengers, and pedestrians are entitled to damages if they were injured due to the negligence of a distracted driver. Damages include:
- Past and current medical costs.
- Legal fees
- Future medical costs.
- Lost wages and business income.
- Loss of future earning capacity.
- Permanent injury and disability.
- Pain and suffering.
- Emotional distress.
- Loss of consortium.
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
HOW CAN AN EXPERIENCED FLORIDA DISTRACTED DRIVING ATTORNEY ASSIST YOU?
Distracted Driving claims can be complex, complicated and confusing. A thorough understanding of Florida laws is necessary to navigate through the legal process that starts with filing a claim and can culminate into a trial.
If you are a victim of an distracted driving accident, you should enlist the services of an attorney who will:
- Study your case in detail, answer your doubts and queries, and advise you about the possible legal actions you could pursue.
- Investigate the accident, gather vital evidence and interview witnesses to prove distracted driver’s fault.
- Ensure all legal filings are accurate and filed timely.
- Handle negotiations on your behalf in the event of a settlement.
- Take your case to Court for trial if the other side resists settlement.
CONTACT A FLORIDA DISTRACTED DRIVING ACCIDENT LAWYER.
If you or your loved one has been a victim of a distracted driving accident in the state of Florida or anywhere in the country, you deserve to be duly compensated for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. Call an experienced Distracted Driving Accident lawyer at our firm for a free case evaluation right away.