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Cell Phone Car Accident in California: Liability Explained by Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer

What You Need to Know After a Driver On a Cell Phone Hurt You and Your Family in a Los Angeles Car Accident

Cell phone use while operating a motor vehicle is a growing problem in the United States. It is also a deadly problem. CDC statistics reveal that over 2,800 people are killed and over 400,000 are injured in car accidents due to a distracted driver. The statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) further reveal that cell phone use is one of the most common causes of distracted driving accidents and wrongful deaths, including causing deaths to innocent people including 605 passengers, 400 pedestrians, 77 bicyclists, and countless other drivers who were not using a cell phone. In California alone, 57.9% of California drivers surveyed by Go Safely California reported they were hit or nearly hit by a driver talking on a cell phone.

Our Los Angeles car accident lawyers at the Broadway Law Firm know this to be true. We handle distracted driving car accidents in California, including crashes that result in disability, permanent injuries, or wrongful deaths. We know how devastating these types of accidents can be for not just the victim, but the entire victim’s family. If you or a loved one were seriously injured in California, learn how we can help protect your rights during a FREE consultation by dialing 866.869.1481.

The Growing Problem of Cell Phone Use While Driving

Distracted driving was a serious problem before the prolific rise of smartphones. But now with smartphones becoming more affordable, especially for teenagers, cell phone distracted driving accidents are growing more each year. Most states have taken steps to combat this.

According to a survey of state laws by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), it was found that:

  • 25 states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands all prohibit drivers from using a hand-held cellphone while driving or operating a motor vehicle
  • No states outright ban cell phone use (i.e., can use hands-free devices)
  • 36 states and Washington DC ban all cellphone use by novice, new, or teen drivers
  • 18 states and Washington DC prohibit any cell phone use for school bus drivers
  • 48 states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands all ban text messages for all drivers at all times (some have emergency exceptions).

In California, the NCSL provides there are the following cell phone bans by state law, regulations, or rules:

  • All cell phone use is banned for school bus drivers
  • All cell phone use is banned for teen drivers under the age of 18 
  • All cell phone use is banned for transit bus drivers or passenger bus drivers
  • All drivers are banned from using a hand-held cell phone
  • All drivers are banned from texting while driving.

California Law Prohibiting Cell Phone Use While Driving

Specifically, California Vehicle Code section 23123.5 (a) provides that “[a] person shall not drive a motor vehicle while holding and operating a handheld wireless telephone or an electronic wireless communications device unless the wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device is specifically designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation, and it is used in that manner while driving.”  
Besides law enforcement on official business, the only exception is when a driver uses a single swipe or tap of the finger to active a hands-free option.

Proving a Cell Phone Use Car Accident in California

A person injured in a cell phone car accident can bring a personal injury lawsuit and becomes the “plaintiff.” The person or business being sued is called the “defendant.” In order to be successful, a plaintiff must prove his or her case by satisfying what is known as the “burden of proof” or the “burden of persuasion.” This is the level of confidence or convincing that a plaintiff must do in order to establish a claim.  

The most well-known burden of proof is the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard that requires 98-100% convincing of a trier of fact (a judge or jury). But in a personal injury action, a person only needs to prove a case by a “preponderance of the evidence” which is only establishing that it is “more likely than not” that the plaintiff has demonstrated his or her claim. This means proving that the plaintiff is 51% or more correct.

Ways to Prove a Cell Phone Car Accident Case in California

There are generally two ways to prove a car accident case in California which is caused by a distracted driver using a cell phone. Both ways are known as “causes of action” or a legally recognized type of claim that can be made in a lawsuit.

Common Law Negligence 

Under the common law, or judge-made law, all motorists must exercise reasonable care in the use or operation of their motor vehicle. This includes acting in a manner that avoids causing unnecessary harm to foreseeable victims. As a result, individuals in California who are using a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle and then cause an accident are likely to be considered negligent, or at least partially negligent.

Negligence Per Se

When a defendant violates a California Vehicle Code or statutory law and causes a car accident resulting in personal injuries, the violation of that statute may automatically establish liability against the defendant. For instance, if a defendant is using a cell phone in a manner that violated California Vehicle Code section 23123.5 and hurt a plaintiff in a car accident, it is likely that a cause of action for negligence per se would be established. This means that a defendant would be liable for the victim’s damages.

Ask the Broadway Law Firm for Help With Your Case

If you or a loved one were seriously injured in a motor vehicle crash due to a defendant using a cell phone, ask our experienced Los Angeles car accident lawyers how we can help recover compensation for your pain and suffering, lost wages, medical bills, loss of consortium, and other damages related to the crash. We offer FREE consultations by calling 866.869.1481, or you could use our easy-to-use contact us box available by clicking the link here. Protect your rights by hiring our law firm for help today.

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