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Distracted Driving Accidents

Let a Florida Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer Help You Pick Up the Pieces

What Is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving — and more specifically, driving while using a cell phone — is more common than ever before and poses a significant risk to others on the roadway. More specifically, distracted driving is any distraction that takes a driver’s hands off of the wheel (manual distraction), eyes off of the road (visual distraction), or mind off of driving (cognitive). Texting while driving is particularly dangerous because it requires all three types of distractions (manual, visual, and cognitive) which makes texting while driving one of the most dangerous distracted driving behaviors. 

If you were injured in an accident by a distracted driver on a Florida roadway, contact a Florida accident lawyer at Searcy Denney for a free case evaluation. Our firm aggressively fights for our clients to help them receive the compensation they deserve for the injuries they sustained as a result of an accident caused by another negligent Florida driver.

Recent Florida Distracted Driving Statistics

According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV) 2021 Distracted Driving Crash Dashboard, there were 56,736 accidents involving distracted driving, which led to 2,729 serious injuries and 346 fatalities. Distracted driving fatalities from prior years, showing an increase in fatalities, include:

  • 2018: 235
  • 2019: 268
  • 2020: 317

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2020, the number of fatalities in crashes involving at least one driver who was distracted was 3,142 or 8.1 percent of all fatalities in 2020. This number represents a 0.7% increase from 2019.    

These statistics make Florida one of the worst states for distracted driving, which comes as no surprise. Less than a decade ago, Florida was one of the few states that did not prohibit cell phone use in vehicles, thus (implicitly) encouraging drivers to engage in risky behavior behind the wheel.  Fortunately, the law changed, making a driver’s cell phone usage while the vehicle is in motion illegal.

Largely because of the shocking distracted driving statistics in Florida, the FLHSMV department partnered with law enforcement and other agencies to educate Florida drivers about the importance of paying attention while on the road through a campaign known as “Put It Down: Focus on Driving.”  This campaign followed a Florida law that took effect July 1, 2019, which requires drivers to put their phones down and focus on the road.

If you have been injured in a car accident due to another person’s distracted driving, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact a Florida distracted driving accident attorney at our firm to discuss the particulars of your case. Below are a number of unique issues associated with distracted driving lawsuits that are worth noting. 

Distracted driver looks at cell phone

Florida Law Prohibits Cell Phone Use Behind the Wheel 

Distracted driving has always been a major contributor to car accidents, and as mobile phones become an increasingly integrated part of our daily lives, texting and driving has arguably become the most common form of distracted driving. Some observers estimate that 26 percent of all motor vehicle accidents are caused by or related to the use of mobile phones while driving.

Florida, like most other states, makes it illegal for a driver to use a cell phone while their vehicle is in motion.  Section 316.305 of the Florida code allows law enforcement officers to pull over a vehicle on a Florida roadway and issue citations to drivers who are texting while driving.  This law makes it somewhat easier to impose liability on distracted drivers for the accidents they cause, as their violation of the law will qualify as “negligence per se.”  In other words, they will be presumed negligent. All you have to do to successfully recover is prove that the distracted driver was, in fact, operating their cell phone at the time of the accident and that this negligent act contributed to the accident at issue. 

Penalties for Texting and Driving

Regarding penalties for texting and driving in Florida, Section 316.305 provides the following:

  • First Offense:
    • A non-moving traffic violation 
    • Base $30 fine, not including additional court costs or other fees, and 
    • No points assessed against the driver’s license.
  • Second Offense:
    • Within five years is a moving traffic violation, 
    • With a base $60 fine, not including court costs and other fees, and
    • Three points assessed against the driver’s license.

 As to not using a hands-free device in a school zone and work zone, Section 316.306 makes this offense a moving traffic violation, with a base $60 fine (not including court costs and other fees) and three points assessed against the driver’s license.

Exceptions 

The Florida law prohibiting texting and driving does list some exceptions, including but not limited to:

  • When a motor vehicle is stationary and not being operated
  • Motor vehicle operators doing the following are also exempt:
    • Performing official duties as an operator of an authorized emergency vehicle.
    • Reporting an emergency or criminal or suspicious activity to law enforcement authorities.
    • Receiving messages that are: related to the operation or navigation of the motor vehicle; safety-related information, including emergency, traffic, or weather alerts; data used primarily by the motor vehicle; or radio broadcasts.
    • Using a device or system for navigation purposes.
    • Conducting wireless interpersonal communication that does not require manual entry of multiple letters, numbers, or symbols, except to activate, deactivate, or initiate a feature or function.
    • Conducting wireless communication that does not require reading text messages except to activate, deactivate, or initiate a feature or function.
    • Operating an autonomous vehicle in autonomous mode.

If you were injured by a driver who was texting while driving and have questions about Florida’s prohibition against texting while driving, contact Searcy Denney today. An experienced Florida auto accident attorney at Searcy Denney can help answer your questions and fight for your rights.

Proving Fault in Your Distracted Driving or Texting and Driving Case

As the plaintiff, there are a number of ways in which you can prove that the defendant-driver was using their cell phone at the time of the accident.  For example, you can rely on eyewitness testimony or video evidence (i.e., surveillance camera footage).  Alternatively, you can investigate the billing records of the defendant-driver so as to pinpoint whether they made a call or sent a text message at the time of the accident. When you consult with a Florida distracted driving accident lawyer at our firm, we’ll be sure to collect all the evidence we can to help you earn top compensation

One of the ways in which a distracted driving defendant may attempt to avoid liability is by arguing that even though they were distracted, the distraction did not actually “cause” the accident.  This is a difficult argument, however, and will certainly not put them in a good light.  You can further undermine this defense argument by working with accident reconstructionists and showing that the defendant-driver could have avoided the accident had they been more alert.

Contact a Florida Distracted Driving Accident Attorney to Schedule a Free Consultation

Here at Searcy Denney, we have decades of experience working with a wide range of injured plaintiffs, including those who are harmed in car accidents in which the defendant-driver was operating their vehicle while using a cell phone.

Over the years, we have represented thousands of plaintiffs and secured over $4.2 billion in compensation through negotiated settlements and trial litigation. The breadth and depth of our litigation experience has given us valuable insight into what is necessary to secure a positive result for our client, even in cases where there may be evidentiary challenges and other concerns making the dispute more difficult to resolve.

If you’d like to speak to a seasoned attorney at our Florida auto accident law firm, call us at 1-800-780-8607 or complete an online intake form though our website.  Consultation is free and confidential.

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Posted By: Bud Wilder