Distracted Driver Lawsuits Garnering Bigger Awards
As the incidents of districted driving rises with cell phone use, the court awards and settlements in distracted driver lawsuits are rising as well.
Court awards in recent distracted driver lawsuits have exceeded $1 million in recent years. One couple received $1.3 million after they were seriously injured by a distracted driver. $1.4 million was awarded to a woman whose wrist was broken and back and neck were injured in a head-on collision caused by a districted driver.
Both lawsuits were the largest awards to injured motorists and occurred in Connecticut after the state implemented a ban on the use of cell phones while driving in 2005. Connecticut’s Attorney General described districted driving as “rampant” in the state.
Settlements have been on the rise as well. The estate of a cyclist killed by a distracted driver received a $3.125 million award from the motorist’s insurance company to settle a distracted driver lawsuit.
Despite the cell phone ban and distracted driver lawsuits, the number of motor vehicle accidents in the state has been on the increase since 2011. According to the state’s Department of Transportation, the total number of wrecks increased from 78,433 in 2011 to 116,117 in 2016.
Further, the number of people who die because of distracted drivers has been on the increase. In 2015, Connecticut’s DOT data shows that three people died in distracted driving car accidents, but in 2016 five people died in cell-phone related car wrecks.
Nationally in 2015, 476 fatalities and 30,000 injuries have been attributed to distracted drivers using their cell phones.
It is difficult to nail down the number of car accidents caused by drivers distracted by their mobile devices, but Connecticut police have been documenting major and minor injuries from car accidents they suspect were caused by distracted drivers. That number was up by 47 percent since 2015, says Connecticut’s DOT. Additionally, since 2009, Connecticut police issued 47,000 citations to motorists using their mobile devices while driving.
Awards in distracted driving lawsuits may increase further because of a recent change in the law that requires driver to admit under oath whether they were using their mobile device during the car accident. Prior to this rule, it was difficult to get drivers to admit they were using their cell phone unless they told the police at the time of the accident.
Attorneys say that incidents of distracted driving are increasing in their practices as well. Hallmarks of a distracted driver include no skid marks and no evidence of braking and a sudden stop in traffic after an accident.
Proving that a motorist was using their cell-phone in a districted driving lawsuit is still difficult, say attorneys, and the laws against it aren’t always effective. Drivers can often be fined for districted driving under the law, but the charge is for negligence. Some attorneys contend that upgrading the charge to recklessness, like drunk driving, would make motorists take distracted driving more seriously.
Filing distracted driver lawsuits require experienced attorneys. Contact the lawyers at McDonald Worley today for a FREE case evaluation.