Texting and Cell Phone Driving is Dangerous
Cell phone use while driving has become more prevalent in the State of Washington and around the country. Texting while driving, as well as hand cell phone use while driving is illegal, and presents huge risks to persons and property, often unfortunately resulting in catastrophic injuries and deaths.
The Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL) website provides some troubling facts about the dangers of cell phone use and driving.
- About 6,000 people-equal to every citizen of the Pierce County city of Steilacoom-were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2008; 500,000 were injured.
- The DOL website states that a driver talking on a cell phone is as impaired as a driver with a .08 blood-alcohol level.
- A driver who is texting is as impaired as driver with .16 blood-alcohol level. That is double the legal limit.
- Drivers talking on cell phones are half as second slower to hit the brakes in emergencies and miss more than half the visual cues seen by attentive drivers.
Washington State Law Has Provisions Against Texting and Driving
Talking or sending text messages while holding a wireless device carries a fine. If police see you holding your phone, they can pull you over and ticket you. Drivers must use hands-free devices, and new drivers with instruct permits or intermediate licenses cannot use wireless devices at all except in emergency. The read the cell phone laws, see:
RCW 46.61.667: Using a wireless communications device while driving
RCW 46.61.668: Sending, reading, or writing a text message while driving
RCW 46.20.055: Instruction permit
RCW 46.20.075: Intermediate License
Many Injuries Can Occur as a Result of Being Hit by a Driver Illegally Using a Cell Phone
When a person is injured or killed by a distracted cell phone driver there can be heightened levels of grief, in part because the injury or fatality could have been avoided if the person chose to not drive while texting or using a cell phone. Victims of such incidents can face all sorts of physical injuries, in addition, they can face debilitating emotional distress. The injuries a victim can face after an incident with an intoxicated driver, include a range of medical issues that involve broken bones, connective tissue injuries, and other health problems.
What The Victim of a Distracted Cell Phone Driver Should Do Immediately After the Injury Incident
If you are involved in a collision involving a distracted driver, it is highly recommended that you or someone trustworthy near you try to obtain the at-fault driver's information and contact law enforcement immediately. It is important to have the name of the at-fault driver and his or her driver's license and contact information. One reason is because it will be easier to serve the distracted driver, in the event of a lawsuit, if the victim obtains the original police report with the at-fault driver's information. A police report can help put together the pieces of the incident.
I would also advise the victim in most cases to hold off on giving a statement immediately to the at-fault driver's insurance company. Sometimes an initial statement can be twisted, or the injured person can say something out of turn that can come back and cause some potential problems later.
Can An Insurance Company or Plan Help the Injured Victim?
In the aftermath of an incident involving a distracted driver, the victim will want to contact their own insurance company. First, the victim will want to see if he or she has a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or Medical Payments Policy (Med-Pay). These policies are generally through a person's own insurance company, and the policies can pay for at least some of the victim's accident-related health care billings. Another option is health insurance, a private or public health insurance plan, or a combination of both.
An insurance option for the payment of medical billings that can be overlooked or forgotten is the Washington State Crime Victims Compensation fund through the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. For a crime victim, the victim's compensation fund through the State of Washington can potentially help pay for all of a crime victim's health care billings that are related to the victim's injury incident.
Victims of distracted drivers have various remedies that they can recover as a result of their injury.
In Washington State, an injured victim can recover for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress, inconvenience, future treatment, and loss of earning capacity. These damages are known as general damages.
The injured victim can also recover damages that relate to their health care treatment and loss wages. These damages are known as special damages.
A family member of an injured or deceased victim of a distracted driver may also be able to recover for loss of support, loss of consortium, and funeral/burial costs. Wrongful death and survivorship options occur in cases that involved deceased victims where the family survivors can have potential monetary remedies.
What My Law Firm Can Do
As a personal injury attorney, I am very passionate to represent victims of distracted drivers. I have helped obtain good results for victims injured and killed in cases involving distracted drivers. It is very important for a victim of a distracted cell phone driver to have a lawyer who understands the importance of examining the evidence and the legal issues involved. My firm is aware of the various spectrum of issues that can come up in a distracted cell phone driver injury case.