Texting while driving is a growing problem in the United States. Thousands of drivers have admitted that they have read or composed messages while behind the wheel. Texting while driving is an especially dangerous type of distracted driving since it requires the driver to 1) take his eyes off of the road, 2) take his hands off the steering wheel, and 3) take his mind off of driving. When texting and driving causes a crash, how is it proven?
The most obvious way to prove that a driver was texting while behind the wheel is to look at the driver’s cell phone records. In a lawsuit, the accident victim’s attorney may request these from the cell phone company. Cell phone records show the time that messages were sent and received. If the driver was sending text messages around the time of the crash, these records may be used as evidence of texting while driving.
Additionally, witnesses to the accident may have seen the driver texting while driving. These witnesses may be able to testify that the driver was staring at a phone on a steering wheel or in the driver’s lap. Similarly, video camera surveillance footage from storefronts or other areas may have recorded the driver using a phone.
Witnesses may also notice erratic driving behavior. Signs of texting while driving may include weaving in and out of a designated lane, slowing one’s speed and failing to acknowledge traffic lights.
In some cases, the driver admits that he or she was texting right after an accident. This statement may be used against the driver in a subsequent lawsuit.
Texting and driving is a type of negligence. In negligence actions, such as those involving motor vehicle accidents, three elements must be proven:
- The at-fault party owed the victim a duty;
- This duty was breached due to the at-fault party’s negligence; and
- Due to this breach, the victim suffered damages.
Each element must be proven for a victim to prevail in a negligence suit. If one of the elements cannot be proven, the case will likely be dismissed.
In a motor vehicle accident case, the duty is to operate a vehicle (or truck, motorcycle, etc.) in a matter that is reasonable under the circumstances. For example, paying attention to other cars on the road and obeying traffic signals are certainly reasonable behaviors. Texting and driving is an example of negligence that deviates from this standard of care.
Damages include medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs that the victim has endured due to the accident. The victim must provide invoices and other evidence of these damages to recover them, and it must be proven that they are directly related to the accident.
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At Stein & Shulman, LLC, our Accident Injury Claims Attorneys in Illinois know how to prove a driver was texting. To schedule your free consultation with our firm, call 312.422.0500 today.
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