Almost 90 percent of drivers agree that texting and driving is dangerous. Yet almost 20% a fifth of these same people admit to texting while driving. So, despite the known risk and tougher laws, such as Georgia’s hands-free law, texting and driving will probably be a problem for some time to come.
Distracted driving-related crashes often cause very serious injuries. In many situations, the tortfeasor(negligent driver) is too busy texting to notice that traffic has slowed or stopped. The result may be an extremely violent rear-end collision. The tortfeasor may be traveling at a high speed when she collides with a victim who is either moving very slowly or who has completely stopped.
If you have suffered from injury due to a car accident caused by a driver who has been texting, an Atlanta personal injury attorney can obtain compensation for your personal injuries. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills. It also includes compensation for noneconomic losses such as pain and suffering. Learn more about the legal options that victims may have as a result of texting and driving laws. Texting, Driving, and Negligence Per Se Georgia lawmakers recently approved the Hands-Free Georgia Act. The new O.C.G.A. Section 40-6-241 prohibits the following conduct:
- Holding a phone while driving,
- Supporting a phone with any part of the body while driving,
- Sending or reading text-based communication while operating a vehicle.
- Text-based communication includes not only texting, but also posting, emailing, and any other related activity. A conviction for a first offense could mean a $50 fine and one point.
If drivers violate safety laws, such as the Hands-Free Georgia Act, and thereby substantially cause car crashes, the tortfeasors could be liable for damages as a matter of law. This law applies to the tortfeasor regardless of how carefully, or how carelessly, he was driving at the time. This doctrine also applies in DUI and other such instances.
The hands-free law has some exceptions, such as using a GPS navigation device and a voice-to-text system. In order to obtain compensation for car crash injuries in these cases, victim/plaintiffs must use an ordinary negligence theory, which took effect in July 2018. For several months after this law went into effect, police officers wrote hardly any hands-free citations. Instead, they issued warnings so drivers could adjust. Now that the grace period is over, police officers aggressively enforce 40-6-241(c).
The same is not true for 40-6-241(b), which is the general distracted driving law in Georgia. This provision requires every driver to “exercise due care in operating a motor vehicle on the highways of this state and not engage in any actions which shall distract such driver from the safe operation of such vehicle.”
This law has not been strictly enforced since the spring of 2015. In January of that year, a firestorm ensued after an Atlanta-area officer cited a man for eating a cheeseburger while driving. Such behavior qualifies as distracted driving and violated the broad language in 40-6241(b). But many authorities felt that the citation crossed the line and was overly aggressive, so they didn’t enforce it. However, victims of all distracted driving-related crashes may still pursue ordinary negligence claims.
Texting, Driving and Ordinary Negligence
All texting while driving may not be illegal, but in any case, texting and driving arguably violates the duty of care. Texting usually involves at least two of the three forms of distracted driving, which are:
- Manual (taking one’s hand off the wheel),
- Visual (taking one’s eyes off the road), and
- Cognitive (taking one’s mind off driving).
Furthermore, there is evidence that hands-free devices may be even more dangerous than handheld devices. Voice-to-text converters are visually and cognitively distracting, as are hands-free phones. Additionally, hands-free mounts give many drivers a false sense of security. So they may take more risks behind the wheel.
If tortfeasors violate the duty of reasonable care and that violation substantially causes a car crash, the tortfeasor may be negligent and therefore responsible for damages.
As such, a negligence claim is not really about “blaming” anyone for the crash. We all make mistakes, and we are all accountable for the mistakes we make. That’s the essence of a negligence claim.
What to Expect in a Car Crash Claim in Atlanta, Georgia
Over 95 percent of civil cases settle out of court. Depending on the facts and circumstances a settlement could occur quickly, or it could take some time.
Once medical treatment is at least substantially complete, attorneys usually send demand letters to insurance companies. If liability is reasonably clear, the insurance company has a duty to settle the case at that point. But in most situations, there is at least some question as to liability. So many cases will then go to the next stage.
At this stage, attorneys file legal paperwork to preserve the victim’s rights. Yet even after this filing, informal settlement negotiations between the victim and the insurance company usually continues.
If the two sides are unable to agree, most Fulton County judges refer the claim to mediation. During mediation, a neutral third party tries to negotiate a settlement between the two sides. If both parties negotiate in good faith, mediation is usually successful.
Most drivers know that texting and driving is unsafe and illegal, yet this negligent behavior continues to to cause serious injuries for many car crash victims. Have you suffered from a negligent driver who has been texting and driving? We can help.
For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Atlanta, contact Wolfe Law Group, LLC. at #(404) 348-0884. We will explore your options with you during this consultation. We also do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.
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