Texting While Driving/Distracted Driving
We see it every day. People texting or talking on their cell phones while driving. Many times we are behind the texting driver and think they may be drunk because they are swerving in and out of the lane, maybe they hit the curb, and then have to slam on their brakes at every red light so they won’t hit the car in front of them. Then you pull up beside them and see they aren’t drunk – THEY’RE TEXTING.
Driving While Distracted (DWD) is extremely dangerous. Studies have shown that texting while driving increases your chance of a serious car collision by 8 times! Other studies have shown that talking on your cell phone, even if using a hands free device, has the same risk as driving drunk at the legal level of 0.08! A few cities have banned cell phone use in school zones.
If you are injured by someone that is texting or talking on their cell phone and driving you can and should claim not only what is called actual damages but also seek punitive damages to punish and deter this driver from this type of behavior in the future.
Punitive damages are damages that are awarded solely to punish and deter the texting driver from doing this again. A punitive damage award sends a message to the community that juries will not stand for distracted drivers who text or talk on their cell phone and drive and then let them and their insurance companies deny, delay and defend a suit and argue to the jury that they have already been punished by the State by getting a ticket or that they are “too poor” to pay for what they have caused. Most automobile insurance policies cover both actual and punitive damages so the insurance company will be responsible to pay these damages.
Juries punish drunk drivers that kill and injure innocent victims when the person makes the conscious, intentional act to drink alcohol and then drive a vehicle.
Therefore holding those drivers who make the conscious, intentional act of texting or talking on their cell phone while driving is left up to the juries. A large civil verdict with substantial punitive damages shows the drivers that juries will not allow distracted drivers to continue to injure and kill our citizens.
Once juries start awarding substantial punitive damages against texting drivers in cases in the range of $250,000 to $500,000 on each case, the distracted drivers and their insurance companies will be settling these cases without a suit. Juries won’t be bothered with these types of clear cut cases where defendants and their insurance companies raise “frivolous” defenses and waste everyone’s time.