Understanding Cell Phone Liability in Auto Accidents
Even under the best of circumstances, there is always an element of risk in driving. Recently, this level of risk has increased dramatically due to the use of cell phones while driving. In 2015 alone, nearly 400,000 people were injured or killed in automobile accidents that involved distracted drivers. Many of these accidents were caused by drivers simply taking their eyes off the road for a few seconds to read a text message.
For this reason, almost every state has enacted laws that ban at least some form of cell phone use while driving. The only states not to follow this trend are Arizona and Montana; however, many cities in these states have put the burden on themselves to enact such laws. For example, Phoenix, Tempe, and Flagstaff all currently have laws that outlaw texting while driving. In other parts of Arizona, such as Tucson, any form of cell phone use is illegal without a hands-free device.
Even with all these efforts to avoid accidents caused by distracted drivers, they do still occur. If an accident does occur, being able to prove that the other driver was on a cell phone, thus being distracted, is one way to prove liability. Cell phones can distract a driver in numerous ways. A few examples include:
- Looking away from the road for any period of time to look at a cell phone for any reason
- Driving with only one hand on the steering wheel and holding any device in the other
- Talking on the cell phone without a hands-free device
- Texting while driving
If you were in an accident and you noticed the other driver doing any of these things, or anything else that might have distracted him or her, you should inform a police officer at the scene of the accident. This information should then be filed in the police report and could help determine where the liability lies in the accident. Even if a driver denies being on a cell phone, the driver’s cell phone records can be subpoenaed to determine if the driver was distracted by cell phone use.
Keeping your eyes on the road and your cell phone tucked away is a great way to keep from becoming distracted by your cell phone. Not only will this reduce the chance that you will be involved in a collision, it will also prevent you from receiving any fines from the violation of any cell phone use laws.