Florida is one of the few states that still has no limits to text messaging while driving. In California, for example, it’s illegal to use your cell phone while driving unless you have a hands-free device and texting is strictly off-limits when you’re behind the wheel. However, just because texting while driving is technically legal, it can still be used against the at-fault driver in a car accident case to show negligence. In fact, just about anything that distracts you from the road can show negligence.
A news story from South Florida last December reported that a jury awarded $8.8 million to the family of a mother killed by a driver who was texting while speeding down the road. In a trial, the plaintiff’s attorney can subpoena cell phone records, which is what happened here, and the drivers’ records showed an outgoing text two minutes before the paramedics were called to the scene. Police charged him with speeding and reckless driving at the time.
A State-wide texting-while-driving ban hasn’t been passed in Florida yet, but has been generating increasing attention due to cases like this. For accident victims, the important thing to keep in mind is whether the other driver was distracted. Did he or she admit to being distracted? Do you have witnesses to help you prove it? Whether it’s texting, disciplining children, spilling hot coffee, or talking to a passenger while taking his or her eyes off the road – it’s all negligence.