Filing a lawsuit against someone for texting while driving
Distracted driving is often considered just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. One of the most common forms of distracted driving involves texting or using a cell phone while driving. At highway speeds, in the time that it takes to read or send a text message, a driver’s vehicle will have traveled the length of a football field. Over that distance, the driver’s attention is completely off the road.
If you have been involved in a car accident where the other driver was texting right before the crash, what are your rights to pursue a legal claim against that driver for texting while driving?
Is Someone Automatically Liable for a Car Accident When Texting While Driving?
Even though texting while driving is against the law in New Jersey, the fact that a driver involved in a crash was texting while driving does not automatically make them liable for injuries and property damage resulting from the car accident. Of course, if the other driver was texting while driving at the time of the crash and that distraction resulted in the accident, it can greatly increase your chances of winning a claim for compensation.
However, you will still need to prove that the other driver’s negligence caused the accident and your injuries and losses. Although texting while driving is undoubtedly negligent behavior, there may have been other factors and circumstances that may also be partly responsible for causing the accident. For example, if you got into an accident with a driver who was texting while driving but they had a green light while you ran a red light, that can affect the determination of liability for the accident. New Jersey uses a modified comparative negligence rule for car accident claims, which can reduce the compensation you receive or bar your claim outright depending on your share of fault for the accident.
How Does a Traffic Ticket/Criminal Conviction for Texting While Driving Affect Your Claim?
In New Jersey, it is a primary offense to hold a cell phone in your hand while driving. This means that a police officer can pull you over just because they saw you holding your cell phone while you were driving. Handheld use of a cell phone is only permitted in emergency situations.
If the other driver involved in your accident was ticketed for violating New Jersey’s cell phone use law, it can serve as highly persuasive evidence of negligence. This is typically known as “per se” negligence, or negligence that occurs as a result of breaking the law. However, a conviction in Municipal Court is not always admissible in a Civil Court lawsuit, and it may be necessary to prove the cell phone issue separately in your automobile accident case.
What to Do If You Were Involved in an Accident with Someone Texting While Driving
Proving that the other driver was holding and using their cell phone at the time of the accident may be difficult. After you have been in a crash with another driver you suspect of texting while driving, you should remember to:
- Get the contact and insurance information of the other driver or drivers involved in the accident.
- Take photos of the accident scene.
- See a doctor as soon as possible to diagnose the injuries you suffered in the crash.
Finally, you should speak with a car accident attorney about your case. Your lawyer may be able to recover evidence to prove that the other driver was texting at the time of the accident, such as by requesting cell records or data from the other driver’s phone.
Contact a Clark Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Car Accident Case in New Jersey
Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries due to a car accident in New Jersey? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Team Law represent clients injured because of car accidents in Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, Elizabeth, and throughout New Jersey. Call (732) 540-1394 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 136 Central Ave., Clark, NJ 07066, as well as offices in West New York, Perth Amboy, Edison, Summit, Newark, New Brunswick, Orange, Plainfield, and Jersey City.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.