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Texting and Driving Accidents 

Written by: Portrait Photo Of Chad M. Prentice Chad M. Prentice

It’s no secret that texting and driving and other types of distracted driving lead to accidents. When a driver takes their eyes off the road, that lapse of attention makes it impossible for them to respond to hazards. If another driver has injured you and you suspect they were on their phone at the time of the crash, you need a personal injury lawyer who knows how to prove your distracted driving case. 

In Santa Barbara, CA, the car accident lawyers at Maho | Prentice, LLC represent individuals who were struck by distracted drivers. Call today for a free consultation and immediate representation. 

What is Texting While Driving?

The state of California makes no distinction between sending a text message or typing while driving or using your phone for some other purpose. While it’s legal to talk on your phone, it can’t be in your hand while you’re operating a vehicle. You can only use your phone with a hands-free system, like a Bluetooth or wired connection. If law enforcement officers notice you using your phone, they can stop you and issue a citation.

Texting and Driving

Distracted Driving Accidents Facts and Statistics 

The National Safety Council is a non-profit organization that tracks the occurrences of distracted driving accidents. From 2010 to 2020, there were nearly six million distracted driving accidents related to cellphones and in-car devices, averaging close to 600,000 per year, with about 40% involving injuries. There were also nearly 3,000 fatalities each year during the same decade. While the agencies that compile the reported statistics attempt to be accurate, many distracted driving accidents likely go unreported. Most drivers will not admit they were on their cellphone when speaking to the responding police officer. 

What Distracted Driving Means to Your Personal Injury Case

All drivers are legally obligated to pay attention to the road while driving. If they fail in that obligation and it causes an accident, their insurer is responsible for any damages. Personal injury attorneys, like at the Maho | Prentice Santa Barbara law firm, must be able to demonstrate a breach of duty of care to win their case. Proving that the defendant was texting on the phone at the time of the crash can go a long way to establishing that breach of duty.

It’s important to note that just because a driver was texting does not necessarily mean they’re at fault for the accident. For example, if a driver is messaging while stopped for a red light is rear-ended by another vehicle, they’re not at fault for the accident.

Proving a Distracted Driving Case

Attorneys must be able to prove several factors to pursue damages successfully. Additionally, if they are going to claim that distracted driving was the cause, they must tailor the case to include that aggravating factor. Here are the four elements of a distracted driving case. 

1. Duty of Care 

Since all drivers owe a duty of care to the vehicles and pedestrians on the road, the attorney will only have to establish that the defendant was operating their vehicle during the accident. 

2. Breach of Duty

The driver of the vehicle breached their duty of care in some way. While cellphone usage is dangerous in and of itself, there may be other factors in this element: driving at high speeds, making sudden lane changes, etc.

3. Causation

It’s not enough to show that the defendant was violating the law by operating their cell phone. A personal injury lawyer must demonstrate that this breach of duty contributed to the accident. 

4. Damages 

This includes monetary expenses like property damage, medical bills, and lost wages as well as general damages, like pain and suffering. 

Since most drivers will not admit to cellphone usage during an accident, your personal injury attorney may have to subpoena phone records from the provider. This information can go a long way to establishing phone usage. For instance, if the defendant states that they had been actively driving for 15 minutes prior to the crash, and the phone company shows several outgoing text messages during that time, it’s evident that they were driving while distracted. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Texting and Driving Accidents 

The following questions are commonly asked by Maho | Prentice clients. For answers to your questions, call our Santa Barbara personal injury law firm for a free consultation. 

What are the most common types of texting and driving accidents?

Distracted driving often leads drivers to fail to notice vehicles stopped in front of them, changing traffic signals, and stop signs. It also causes drivers to drift into other lanes and overcorrect. That means rear-end collisions, sideswipes, and t-bone crashes are some of the most common accidents. 

How can an attorney prove that the defendant was texting?

Barring a confession from the defendant, the only way to prove that a driver was on their phone is to subpoena their phone records. This is a time-sensitive part of the crash investigation since some phone companies only keep data for 30 days.

Santa Barbara Distracted Driving Lawyers

The personal injury lawyers at Maho | Prentice have represented hundreds of individuals who have been involved in distracted driving accidents. The sooner you involve our veteran attorneys, the better the chance of a successful outcome. All consultations are free, and you only have to pay for our services if your case has a successful outcome. Contact Maho | Prentice, LLC today.