Jul
19
2018

Cell Phone Use and Car Accidents

More and more states across the country are enacting laws that ban the use of cell phones and other mobile devices, such as GPS systems, while driving because the distractions they cause are so dangerous. Aside from getting a ticket if you are caught using a handheld device while driving, you could also face a lawsuit if you are at-fault in a car accident and were found to be using your phone or other handheld device while driving.

Drivers Could be Held Responsible If Using Phone

When it comes down to it, the victim of a car crash who files a lawsuit against another driver is required to prove that the negligent actions of the defendant are what caused the accident. Plaintiffs are now arguing that some drivers are at-fault for accidents because they were using their handheld device while operating the vehicle.

Some common examples of careless driving caused by the use of a cell phone include the following:

  • Failing to keep eyes on the road while reading/sending a text, looking for a phone, or dialing a number
  • Using just one hand to steer the vehicle while the other holds the phone
  • Being emotionally distracted while having a phone conversation
  • Not looking out for dangers around the car because of phone distractions, even the distractions of a passenger’s phone

This is a legitimate question many people ask these days. With more and more companies adding vehicle and truck fleets to their daily operations they have hundreds of employees out on the roads of Alabama. What if the driver in the accident was an employee doing business on the phone? How would this be handled when it comes down to liability?

If this happens, the victim of the crash would likely sue the employer, not the employee. The employer can be held liable if the employee happened to be having a work-related phone call during the company vehicle crash. The same can be said if the employee was reading or sending a text or email related to their job when the crash occurred.

Since an employer could be held liable for an employee’s cell phone use while driving, can the same be said for the parent of a child who is old enough to drive but not a legal adult yet?

This very well could be a problem for a parent, especially since they are likely the person who purchased the mobile phone for the child. Parents should make it known that their children should never use their cell phone when behind the wheel.

In Alabama, there is a statewide ban on texting while driving for drivers of all ages. There is also a ban for novice drivers who are 16 and 17. This law covers a ban on handheld use while driving.

How is Insurance Affected?

Insurance companies understand there is a link between cell phone use and car accidents. That’s why you could risk seeing your policy premium increase if you are the at-fault driver in a car accident and were found to be using your phone at the time of the crash. The same can be said if you receive a ticket for texting while driving.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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