Are There Defenses to Distracted Driving?
Driving is so common that many people stop thinking about how dangerous it can be. Because of this danger, it is important to keep driving safe the top priority on the road. Distracted driving is a major problem. Florida is the second-worst state for distracted driving. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately nine people are killed every day in the United States because of crashes attributed to a distracted driver. Over 1,000 people are injured per day in distracted driving accidents.
What is distracted driving?
The CDC labels distractions in three categories: (1) visual; (2) manual; and (3) cognitive. Visual distractions include anything that makes you take your eyes off of the road. Manual distractions are distractions that lead to your hands being taken off the wheel. Cognitive distractions are those times when your mind wanders elsewhere of driving. Common distractions are checking, your phone, changing the music, eating, drinking, and putting on makeup.
To be clear, most everyone would agree that drinking and driving is unsafe and unacceptable. It’s surprising to note, however, that the signs of a driver under the influence can manifest in the same way with distracted drivers.
Are there defenses?
Even though accidents resulting from a distracted driver are very serious, there are still defenses that defendants will be able to claim.
Comparative Negligence. Comparative negligence is an affirmative defense. This is a fact or set of facts that the defendant uses to mitigate the legal consequences of their unlawful action. Florida follows a pure form of comparative negligence. This means that a victim’s damages will be reduced by their amount of fault for the accident.
Other Cause of Accident. The other driver may try to point out the other circumstances that led to the accident. The driver may blame the weather, inadequate traffic signs, and anything else that could reduce the charge or get the charge dropped altogether.
Special Exceptions. This defense is more common in accidents involving cell phones. A driver will try to excuse the cell phone use by claiming they needed to make an emergency call.
Lack of Probable Cause. Since being on the phone in a vehicle is a secondary offense in Florida, defendants may argue that being on the phone can not be held against them. They will argue that there must have been some other distraction that caused the crash, before being able to consider if the phone played a role in the accident.
What should I do if I was injured in a distracted driving crash?
The experienced Boca Raton attorneys at Leifer & Ramirez have an arsenal of strategies to combat the defenses that will arise. If you have been injured in a distracted driving accident, go with the attorneys that have the experience and skill to advocate for your rights and get you the compensation that you deserve.