Approximately 20 percent of all motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2008 were caused by some form of distracted driving according to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). NHTSA found that during that year, 5,870 people lost their lives and over half a million people were injured in crashes in which driver distraction was noted in a police officer's crash report. If you were hurt by a distracted driver, contact a knowledgeable Ocala car accident attorney to find out your legal options.
What constitutes distracted driving? Texting, talking on the phone, eating, putting on lipstick, engaging in a heated debate with a passenger, checking email, or looking up driving directions while driving are all examples of distracted driving. Researchers from the University of Utah found that using a cell phone delays drivers' reactions as much as having consumed alcoholic beverages and having a .08 percent blood alcohol level.Can You Hold Distracted Drivers Responsible?
If you are hurt by a distracted driver, you may be able to sue him or her for negligence. To prevail under this theory in court, you will need to prove that (1) the defendant owed you a duty of care, (2) the duty was breached, (3) the breach proximately caused your injury, and (4) damages. All drivers owe other drivers on the road a duty to pay attention and follow road rules. A driver who is applying makeup or texting on a cell phone is not paying attention. If that driver runs a red light or fails to stop at a stop sign because he or she is paying attention to anything other than the road and other cars on the road, he is likely to be found negligent.
It is common for two or more people to cause an accident. Florida is a comparative negligence state. This means that if you and the other driver are both distracted and both act in ways that cause your injuries, you may be found comparatively negligent. A jury will reduce your recovery by the amount it finds you to be at fault. For example, if you are 10% at fault, the total recovery will be reduced by 10%.What Can You Recover?
In Florida, a person injured in a car accident can recover amounts for medical expenses, lost wages, loss of enjoyment, and pain and suffering. In cases where a defendant acts in a particularly reprehensible manner, punitive damages may also be recovered up to three times the amount of the compensatory damages, or $500,000, whichever sum is greater. However, it is extremely rare for punitive damages to be appropriate in a car accident.Contact an Experienced Florida Personal Injury Attorney
Insurance companies have experienced attorneys defending their insured customers. These lawyers are familiar with Florida law and use a variety of strategies to reduce the compensation you are owed or to get your case dismissed. You should not try to represent yourself against an insurance company.
The experienced Ocala car accident lawyers at Dean Law Firm represent injury victims in Ocala, Crystal River, The Villages, and other Central Florida communities on a contingency fee basis. This means you pay us no attorneys’ fees unless we recover compensation on your behalf. We are available for free consultations. Call us at 352-387-8700, or contact us by filling out our online form.