Texting and Driving Car Accident Fault

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Car accidents caused by texting have become a serious concern, particularly among teenage drivers.  Across the country states are taking action by banning texting while driving, making it possible for police to pull drivers over who are caught texting, and allowing insurance companies and lawyers to easily determine fault in the event of an accident. 

Texting and Driving Causes Accidents

When a driver takes their eyes of the road for the brief period of time it takes to read or send a text message, the car can travel over 100 yards – sufficient distance for a dangerous accident to occur.  Studies have shown that texting while driving makes it 20 times more likely that the driver will cause an accident and the National Safety Council estimates that texting and driving causes 300,000 to 700,000 accidents every year.  As accidents caused by texting and driving pick up, police and insurance companies are cracking down on drivers who distract themselves with text messages.

Drivers who are texting at the time of the accident are likely responsible for injuries that result.  If you have been injured in a car accident caused by texting and driving, consult an attorney for assistance.

Texting and Driving Laws Help Determine Car Accident Fault

In response to the increased risk of texting while driving, many states have passed legislation that makes the practice illegal.  In these states, texters not only face punishment from local police for violation of the law, but also is a very good indicator to insurance companies of who was at fault for the accident.  When an insurance company evaluates an accident to determine fault, the adjuster will consult the police report to determine if either driver was violating traffic laws at the time of the accident.  If a driver has violated a law, he or she will take on a great deal, if not all, of the responsibility for the accident.

Violations of anti-texting laws are particularly suggestive of fault because the laws preventing texting are in place to limit distracted driving – meaning that someone who texts and drives is distracted, presents a significant driving danger, and is therefore negligent of his or her duty to drive carefully and avoid accidents.  Because texting and driving creates a significant risk of accident, even a driver who is hit by a speeder or someone running a red light, can be held partially responsible if texting at the time of the accident.  Texting and driving laws give insurance companies an opportunity to clearly, and unarguably, assign a significant responsibility for the accident to the driver who was paying more attention to the phone instead of the road – regardless of what the other driver involved in the accident was doing.

Texting and Driving Amongst Teenage Drivers

A recent CDC study indicates that over half of student drivers age 16 and over text while driving – a dangerously high number. Texting and driving is particularly disturbing when done by teenage drivers, who already face high insurance premiums:

  • Teenage drivers are much less experienced behind the wheel
  • Teenagers are unable to recognize hazards or avoid collisions
  • Teenagers are considered less likely to wear seat belts or pay attention to other safe driving tips
  • Teenagers are more easily distracted by passengers or other events going on around them or within the vehicle

A teen faces increased scrutiny from an insurance company after an accident for the listed reasons alone; so a teenager driving and texting at the time of a car accident will likely be unable to show the other driver was at fault and will  face full responsibility for the accident. Not to mention, a significant increase in insurance payments, and/or inability to obtain reasonably priced insurance from a leading provider. 

Texting and Driving Accident Lawsuits

When texting while driving causes a car accident, insurance payments may not be sufficient to cover the entire cost of the damages.  When insurance is not enough, the injured party will be able to pursue legal action against the driver responsible for the accident, and, again, the fact that the driver was texting will play a significant role, even if the state does not have a law making the practice illegal.

Personal injury lawsuits award damages to an injured plaintiff if the defendant’s negligence was the cause of the accident and the injuries.  A driver who is texting is considered a distracted driver, and therefore is not upholding his or her duty to other drivers or pedestrians.  A driver who is texting at the time of the accident faces the strong possibility of losing a lawsuit and being held legally responsible for the entire cost of the other party’s injuries.

NOTE:  If you are injured in a car accident caused by texting while driving, you may be entitled to full compensation from the driver who was texting .  If you suspect the other driver was texting, you can obtain a copy of the police accident report to get the details and evidence you need.  You can consult  an experienced attorney  who handles personal injury cases, and pursue an insurance claim or lawsuit against the responsible party..

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