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Drivers on the road today face an endless variety of hazards. In addition to drunk drivers and people falling asleep at the wheel, we now have to contend with distracted driving caused by cellphones or other mobile devices. The distracted driving accident lawyers at the St. Petersburg law firm of Salter, Healy, Rivera & Heptner represent those who have been hurt in a car crash or auto accident caused by someone else’s negligence.
As long as people have been driving vehicles, there have been distracted drivers. Traditionally, distractions existed in the form of food, drinks or even passengers. Today, drivers are also often distracted by electronic devices such as:
Avoiding an accident often requires a split-second decision, so any activity or interference that takes a driver’s eyes or mind off of the road can be deadly. If you have been hurt because a driver wasn’t paying attention, we can help.
When we look at information available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we can see that there are three main types of distracted driving that occur:
Visual distractions include any activity that takes a person’s eyes off the roadway. This can include glancing at the phone, looking at others in the vehicle, “rubbernecking” accidents on the roadside, and more.
Manual distractions include anything that takes a person’s hands off of the wheel. This includes typing out a text message, holding a phone, reaching for items in the vehicle, eating or drinking, applying makeup, and more.
Cognitive distractions are anything that takes a person’s mind off of driving. This can certainly include any of the visual or manual distractions mentioned above. However, this can also include daydreaming or any thoughts that let the mind wander to something other than the driving activity at hand.
All cellphone use is dangerous for drivers. Even hands-free systems take a driver’s attention off the road. The most dangerous uses involve the driver looking at their phone or typing into it. Texting and other forms of messaging divert your attention for an average of five seconds at a time. At highway speeds, that’s enough time to drive the length of a football field.
For this reason, Florida passed a statute that prohibited texting while driving starting in 2013. It covers all forms of messaging that require a user to enter multiple letters or numbers in order to communicate. A first violation is a nonmoving violation, but subsequent violations within five years of the first are considered to be moving violations.
In the state of Florida, every driver on the roadway has a duty of care to others around them. This duty of care means that drivers must operate their vehicles safely and in a way that keeps others around them safe. Any distractions inside of a vehicle that could lead to unsafe driving are against the law. Florida does have a specific law targeting texting and driving. Under F.S. 316.305, we can see that drivers are prohibited from operating a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple numbers, symbols, letters, or other characters into a mobile device or while sending or reading data on a mobile device for the purposes of non-voice interpersonal communication. Even though that may sound confusing, this just means that drivers cannot use a phone for texting, emailing, social media posting, instant messaging, etc. However, this provision does not apply to individuals dialing a phone number, reporting an emergency, receiving navigation information, or receiving safety-related alerts. Additionally, this law does not prohibit an individual from talking on the phone, even though this is another major type of distraction on Florida roadways.
It is important for any crash victim to understand that they have a limited amount of time to file these claims. First, insurance carriers in Florida have very strict reporting deadlines. You need to report your crash to the insurance carrier within a day or two after the incident occurs. Failing to do so could result in the claim being delayed or even denied altogether by the insurance carrier.
Additionally, the Florida personal injury statute of limitations is four years from the date an injury occurs. This means that a distracted driving accident victim has a four-year window with which to file a lawsuit against the alleged negligent party. Failing to do so within this timeframe will likely result in the victim being unable to recover any compensation for their losses.
Individuals injured as a result of a distracted driving accident may be able to recover various types of compensation for their losses. At Salter, Healy, Rivera & Heptner, our team works diligently to recover both economic and non-economic damages, including the following:
If you have been involved in a car accident with a distracted driver, it is important that you make your safety a primary concern. Get out of the roadway if possible. Help any additional victims to safety if you can. Call the police and exchange information with the other driver. Take photos of the accident scene and anything else that might prove that the other driver was distracted. Always seek medical attention, even if you don’t think you have been hurt. Don’t admit fault and never speak with an insurance adjuster before contacting a skilled St. Petersburg car accident lawyer.
Your car accident lawyer will work with accident reconstruction experts to prove that the accident was the other driver’s fault. Additionally, your lawyer can request the other driver’s phone records under Florida law to help prove that the driver was texting at the time of the accident. A St. Petersburg personal injury lawyer can also help you prove that your injuries are severe enough to pass the threshold required for a lawsuit under Florida’s no-fault laws. Once we get to court, our attorneys stand up to the insurance companies to get you justice.
If your injuries in a car accident were caused by distracted driving, you have rights under the law. At Salter, Healy, Rivera & Heptner, our attorneys are committed to getting justice for injury victims in the St. Petersburg area. To schedule a free consultation, call our office or contact us online.