Warning to Florida’s Distracted Drivers: Distracted Driving in Florida Could Cost You Thousands Not Covered by Insurance
What is a Distracted Driver?
A distracted driver is a driver performing an activity of any kind that diverts attention away from the tasks necessary to drive safely, such as paying attention to the roadway, other vehicles and your vehicle. Thousands of crashes per year occur in Florida due to drivers being distracted by various things including:
- talking on the phone
- using a GPS
- using a phone for other apps
- eating while driving
- passenger distractions of various kinds
- loud music
Using a Cell Phone While Driving
Did you know that police officers can now stop someone they observe texting and issue a traffic citation for that? Section 316.305 Florida Statute, also known as Wireless Communications While Driving Law, states that a person may not operate a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers or symbols into a wireless communications device to text, email and instant message. Furthermore, Section 316.306 Florida Statute prohibits the use of a wireless communications device in a handheld manner in school and work zones. Wireless communications device refers to a cell phone, a tablet, a laptop, a two-way messaging device, or an electronic game that is used or capable of being used in a handheld manner.
According to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were a reported 48,537 crashes caused by distracted driving in 2020, with 2,756 causing serious bodily injury, and 308 deaths.
Risks of Distracted Driving
What you may not know is that even if not observed texting in your vehicle by a police officer or other witnesses, you can still have major problems in the event of a crash while doing so. In fact, if you were talking on your phone, texting, making entries on your GPS app. or actively using other apps at the time of a crash, you could be facing money damages that will come out of your pocket that will not be covered by your insurance company.
Typically, a lawyer for the injured party will attempt to obtain your cell phone records by issuing a subpoena to your cell phone company that will show your phone usage at the exact time of the crash. If they can show you were actively using the phone and as a result, due to inattentiveness to your driving, caused a car crash resulting in injuries to another party, you can be facing a claim for punitive damages.
What are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are money damages that a jury can award the injured party against you to punish you for driving while distracted by any electronic device, especially if it can be shown that you were texting at the time of the crash. Punitive damages, in almost all cases, ARE NOT COVERED by auto insurance so you could become personally responsible for many thousands of dollars in punitive damages out of your own personal savings, even if you have a one-million-dollar insurance policy.
This risk of a claim against you for money damages that your auto insurance company would not cover you for could possibly extend to situations where your inattentiveness to the road was due to other reasons besides the use of electronic devices. These situations would include the reasons mentioned above, but for the most part, the real risk is getting caught texting while driving and causing a crash.
Cases Involving Distracted Driving
In conclusion, it is not just for your safety that you should remain attentive to the roadway while driving, but for your own economic well being also. Safe driving out there and call me if you have any questions about how texting or using electronic devices at the time of a crash might affect your case.
Based in Plantation and Naples Florida, the Law Offices of Robert Gluck represents clients throughout South Florida who have suffered injuries in an accident caused by a distracted driver. Call us today for a free consultation at (877) Gluck-Law, or email us anytime.