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Texting While Driving Accidents in California: What are my Rights?

Proving a Texting While Driving Accident Case in California

Distracted driving crashes and texting while driving collisions are some of the most devastating types of California car accidents. They are also one of the most preventable types of collisions too. According to the CDC, over 2,800 people were wrongfully killed and another 400,000 were negligently injured in crashes with a distracted driver—above eight (8) deaths a day. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), texting is the most common and alarming distraction which even taking your eyes off the road to send one text message at 55 MPH is like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.

Here at the Broadway Law Firm, our experienced Los Angeles car accident lawyers know just how often a distracted driving crash can be catastrophic for an innocent person in California. The ramifications of sending one text message can not only affect that victim, but an entire family relying on that victim for financial, emotional, and other support. This is why victims of a distracted driving accident in California are frequently entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, lost future earnings, medical bills, loss of consortium/society, and sometimes even punitive damages. If you or a loved one were seriously injured in a texting while driving accident, or if a loved one was wrongfully killed, call for a FREE consultation by dialing 213.464.0955.

Why Texting While Driving is the Ultimate Distraction

Cell phone use while driving accidents account for 13% of all distracted driving accidents and 14% of all distracted driving fatalities, figures which are growing each year. Texting while driving is often said to be the worst of all distracted driving types because:

  • Texting takes your eyes off the road
  • Texting takes one or both hands off the wheel, and
  • Texting takes your attention off driving.

This trifecta is a recipe for catastrophic car accidents and personal injuries.

Texting While Driving is Illegal in California

These dangers of texting while driving are not only obvious but now they are dangerous which are controlled by California law—as most states have enacted similar legislation. Under California Vehicle Code section 23123.5 (a), “[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.” The only exception for hands-free operation is to activate the feature or function with “a single swipe or tap of the driver finger” under subdivision (c) (2).

This means any driver who is texting while driving without using a hands-free function or feature is likely violating California law. This means that only dictating a text message is permissible, but even then that is still not advisable.

Proving a Texting While Driving Car Accident in California

A plaintiff who is injured by a motorist texting while driving may be entitled to compensation for personal injuries. In order to prove entitlement, a plaintiff must establish that the defendant was negligent or liable for the auto crash. In a texting while driving accident, there are generally two ways to do that.

Common Law Negligence

Under California common law, or judge-made law, all motorists must exercise reasonable care in the use or operation of their motor vehicle. This includes avoiding unnecessary risks to others and driving as a reasonably prudent person. It is obvious from the shocking statistics noted above that a reasonably prudent person would not text while driving a motor vehicle because of the high risk of injury. Therefore, if a person is found to have been texting while driving and caused a motor vehicle accident, he or she may be liable for all damages (personal injuries) related to the crash.

Negligence Per Se

Another way to prove a texting while driving accident is through the doctrine of “negligence per se.” This doctrine allows for the automatic finding of liability against a defendant who violates a California statute and causes personal injuries. The doctrine can only be used when the following three elements are met:

  1. The statute was violated
  2. The victim was in the class of persons protected by the statute, and
  3. The victim’s injuries were in the class of harms meant to be protected by the statute.

California’s Vehicle Code section 23123.5 is intended to prevent any motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, or other individuals on or near the road from being injured by a motorist texting while driving. The harms sought to be prevented are any harms due to a motor vehicle accident. Therefore, a defendant who violates this section of the law is likely going to be found automatically liable for the subject accident.

There are, however, some exceptions to the doctrine of negligence per se. Other times a defense lawyer or insurance company will make it unnecessarily difficult to determine whether or not a defendant was texting by refusing to turn over cell phone records. This is why hiring an experienced and aggressive Los Angeles car accident lawyer to protect your rights is imperative. We can fight back by filing the appropriate motion in court or issuing subpoenas to telephone companies to recover the necessary proof to demonstrate liability.

Call the Broadway Law Firm to Protect Your Rights to Compensation

If you have been injured in any type of California car accident where the defendant may have been texting while driving, call our experienced Los Angeles car accident lawyers at the Broadway Law Firm to protect your rights to compensation. We accept cases on a contingency fee agreement which means we only get paid after we recover compensation for you. This means we can start aggressively pursuing your case without any upfront costs. Learn more during a FREE consultation by dialing 213.464.0955. You could also contact us with our easy-to-use contact us box available by clicking the link here.

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