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Bagen Law Blog

A Case of Texting and Driving

Posted by Steven A. Bagen

Apr 30, 2014 10:13:00 AM

bigstock-Woman-Text-Messaging-While-Dri-5928179We all know the dangers of texting and driving, but unfortunately a 32 year old woman in High Point, North Carolina took texting a step further last week and it cost her, her life.   

Courtney Sanders was on her way to work last Thursday morning when she decided to take “selfies” and post them to her Facebook page.  She then posted a status to Facebook saying “The happy song makes me HAPPY”. That statement was posted at 8:33 a.m. and at 8:34 a.m. operators received a 911 call stating that Courtney’s car had crossed the median and slammed into a truck causing it to strike a tree. Fortunately the driver of the truck was not seriously injured. 

A Luitentant with the High Point Police Department, Chris Weisner, told a local news station, "In a matter of seconds, a life was over just so she could notify some friends that she was happy." 

In 2013, Florida joined other states in passing a law that bans drivers from texting while driving.  Since most people associate texting in the sense of sending messages directly to another person, it seems as though a campaign to inform drivers of the wording in the Florida Statute may be beneficial.  

Florida Statute 316.305 states that  “A person may not operate a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters into a wireless communications device or while sending or reading data on such a device for the purpose of nonvoice interpersonal communication”.  

This statute not only refers to texting, but also to posting statuses or pictures to Facebook, tweeting, etc.  In addition, it refers to not only sending, but it being illegal to read those texts or posts as well.  

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports the risk of having an auto accident is about four times higher for drivers using cell phones.  The importance of cell phone use after a car accident is that cell phone use is recognized as a form of diminished capacity. Similar to the rights of victims of car accidents caused by drunk drivers, victims of distracted-driver accidents may have the right to seek punitive damages from the responsible driver.

In fact, cell usage is now being considered by Florida courts as grounds for awarding punitive damages.  A jury is also far more likely to be sympathetic to a larger overall compensatory damages award when evidence of cell phone usage is presented.

At Attorney Steven A. Bagen and Associates, we have handled hundreds of cases against texting drivers.   If you or someone you know has been injured in a texting and driving related accident, call our office at (352)377-9000 or email us at SABOFFICE@BAGENLAW.COM

Contact Steven Bagen Gainesville Ocala personal injury lawyer

Topics: Driving and Texting