Texting and driving have been prohibited in Alabama since 2012, and with good reason. It is one of the most unsafe forms of distracted driving and it can result in serious injuries. Drivers who text take their eyes off the road, hands off the wheel and mind off driving. Sending or reading a text takes about five seconds and that’s more than enough time to cause an accident. If you believe the driver who hit you was texting, you will need to prove it. Unless the driver admits to breaking the law, you will need a car accident lawyer to gather the evidence.
It is illegal to send or receive texts, pictures or emails while operating a motor vehicle on a public road. This is covered under Alabama Code § 32-5A-350. The penalty for texting while operating a vehicle is $25 for a first offense and $50 for a second offense. Third and subsequent offenses attract a $75 fine. Given these low fines, many drivers flout the law.
It should be noted that there are some exceptions to these rules. For example, drivers can legally use their device if:
A driver who is texting is 23 times more likely to get into a crash than one who isn’t. Furthermore, 30 percent of car accidents are caused by drivers who confess to texting just before the crash occurred. Despite the dangers and the legal requirements, drivers continue to send messages and update their social media pages while driving. When their actions cause injuries and property damage, victims like you deserve to get compensation.
To do so, you have to establish negligence. Every driver has a legal duty to ensure the safety of other road users. Engaging in activities that are obviously dangerous – like texting and driving – is a breach of that duty. It can be deemed negligent conduct and the driver or their insurer would be legally responsible for the losses they caused. They may have to meet the cost of medical bills, property damage, and loss of wages. However, you first have to prove the driver was texting, and this will be the hard part.
Even if you saw the driver with a phone in their hand, they may have a defense. They are likely to claim they were doing one of the allowed activities. The only way to prove otherwise would be to get their phone records. The records will show the time they were using their phone and potentially, what they were using it to do. The driver’s cell phone provider will not provide these records without a court order. Your lawyer will have to get a subpoena.
What you do following your accident could help to strengthen your case. As an attorney would advise you, you first need to ensure you call the police. When they arrive on the scene, make it clear that the driver was using their phone. Make sure they take note of it so they can include it in their report. The is important because the insurance company will use this report to make their initial assessment of your claim.
If the report clearly states the driver was texting, the insurer is more likely to accept liability. The same applies if they’ve been convicted of an offense. If the report doesn’t make mention of the driver texting, you should still tell your lawyer.
Depending on the circumstances of the crash, the driver could be charged and convicted of reckless driving. A charge against the driver could strengthen your case. In the event of a particularly serious accident, you may also be able to collect punitive damages.
If you’ve been involved in an accident with a driver who was texting, you need an attorney. The only way to really prove the driver was texting is to subpoena their phone records. This isn’t something you can do on your own so you must have an Alabama car accident lawyer on your side. At the Vance Law Firm, we have experienced attorneys who will fight to ensure you get every penny that you deserve. We know the process to be followed and we know how to negotiate with insurance companies. Schedule your consultation today and let us put our skills to work for you.