A recent court of appeals ruling may change the landscape of who can be held responsible for an accident caused by a distracted driver. The court inNew Jersey held that a remote texter could be held liable to third parties for injuries caused when the distracted driver has an accident. The court explained that the person sending the messages has a duty to refrain from texting a driver if the remote texter knows, or has special reason to know, that the recipient will look at the text from behind the wheel. While this decision does not govern car accident cases arising in Cape Cod, one can be sure that courts around the country are taking notice of this ruling of “first impression.”
According to the website, Distraction.gov, you are 23 times more likely to crash if you text while driving. Their slogan says it all: “One text or call could wreck it all.” The seriousness of texting while driving is certainly garnering national attention — and not a moment too soon. Distracted driving has been characterized as a dangerous epidemic. In 2011, more than 3,000 people were killed in distracted driving car accidents. These alarming statistics continue to grow despite the fact that many states have passed laws banning texting while driving. In fact, since 2010, drivers in Massachusetts have been prohibited from sending, typing, or reading electronic messages via handheld devices while driving.
While the court refused to find the remote texter liable in the case mentioned above, the judge clearly has set forth the potential for liability. In all likelihood, the court is probably trying to do its part to reduce the number of people who are texting while driving in an effort to reduce the number of related crashes and devastating injuries and deaths. Distracted driving accidents are the cause of many kinds of serious injuries, including broken bones, head trauma, paralysis and other life-altering conditions.
In Cape Cod and throughout Massachusetts, drivers have a legal duty to exercise reasonable care while driving a motor vehicle. A person who texts and drives does not fulfill that duty. And a person who has been injured as a result of another person’s failure to fulfill the duty (or negligence), has a right to seek compensation for their injuries. Negligent drivers include anyone who texts and drives, runs a red light, speeds, fails to use their turn signals, drives drunk, fails to stop at a stop sign, and fails to yield, among other items. Victims of a car accident case involving a negligent driver have the potential right to recover damages for the following items: lost wages, reduced earnings, medical bills, property damage, psychological counseling, pain and suffering and emotional distress. Keep in mind that insurance companies will work hard to minimize their ultimate payout.
To maximize your recovery, it is important to contact an injury attorney with experience handling car accident cases, someone who will conduct a thorough investigation into your claim and the circumstances surrounding your case. With the proper preparation, an attorney can negotiate with the insurance company to reach a fair and just settlement.
Local attorney, John C. Manoog III, has extensive experience handling car accident cases for injured victims in Cape Cod. For a free initial consultation, call the office at 888-262-6664 or reach us by email. There is always someone available to talk to you about your case.
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