According to recent news from the National Safety Council, cell phone use is now estimated to be involved in 26 percent of all motor vehicle accidents. Research indicates that 5 percent of crashes involved texting, while 21 percent involved drivers talking on handheld or hands-free cell phones.
The Dangers of Distracted Driving
At Brian and Brian at Pistotnik Law, we routinely meet with new clients who have had their lives forever impacted by negligent drivers who are distracted by their cell phones.
Recently, I met with a new client who indicated that after her vehicle was rear-ended at a stop sign—she looked in her rearview mirror and saw the other driver with his cell phone up to his ear. In fact, the other driver proceeded to get out of his vehicle and continued to talk to the other person on the call. My client is fortunate to be alive and all this reckless driver cared about was keeping his conversation going. Needless to say, I look forward to my opportunity to utilize this information to expose the at-fault driver and his complete disregard for the safety of others to the insurance company. Should they refuse to settle, I am confident that a jury will send the driver and the insurance company a message that this recklessness is not tolerated on Kansas roadways.
How We Can Prove Fault in a Car Accident Case
With the proper lawyer, car or truck accidents caused by cell phone usage can have a higher value. Generally, distracted driver victims have a claim for the typical negligence related damages of past and future (1) medical expenses; (2) economic or wage loss; and (3) noneconomic loss or pain and suffering.
In addition, these clients also have the right to assert a claim for punitive damages. To do so, we have the burden to prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that the at-fault driver acted with willful or wanton conduct. What is "wanton conduct"? It is legally defined as an act performed with a realization of the imminence of danger and a reckless disregard or complete indifference to the probable consequences of the act. In plain language, this means that we must convince the jury that in using a cell phone while driving, the other driver knew or should have known he or she was creating a dangerous condition and he or she was indifferent to the fact that he or she could cause an accident.
How do you prove the other driver was actually using his or her cell phone at the time of the accident? There are several tactics we utilize.
For example, my new client's recollection of actually seeing the at-fault driver with his cell phone up to his ear shortly after impact will be of tremendous help. The other driver; however, will typically lie and say that he grabbed his cell phone right after the accident to make a call about having been in the car wreck. This can actually help the case as we will expose the driver for the liar he is to the jury. The information about all phone calls can be obtained through a subpoena served upon the driver's cell phone provider, such as Verizon, AT&T, Cricket, Sprint, and T-Mobile. Once the records have been obtained and the at-fault driver's testimony has been locked in via deposition, the phone calls can be matched against the time that the accident occurred to prove that the other driver was on his phone before the accident happened. This will help us meet our burden to prove the driver's wanton conduct.
If you have been injured by a driver distracted by a cell phone, be sure to hire an accident attorney who knows how to get the evidence you need to get you fully compensated.