Cell phones have revolutionized the way we are able to communicate, but they have also created a significant distraction for many drivers. No matter how capable a motorist thinks he or she may be, texting while driving shifts a driver’s attention away from the road and makes it nearly impossible for him or her to react appropriately to sudden developments. It can also lead a motorist to speed, weave, failing to yield the right of way, or drift into oncoming traffic. At the A.W. Smith Law Firm, our experienced Columbia texting while driving accident attorneys can help plaintiffs throughout Missouri bring a claim against the careless driver who caused their harm. A car accident lawyer at our firm can explore the details of your situations, advise you on your options, and vigorously assert your legal rights.
According to some statistics, at least 660,000 drivers nationwide are texting while driving at any given point throughout the day, and one out of every four accidents occurs as the result of texting behind the wheel. This poses a serious risk to other people on the road and can result in devastating injuries.
In a motor vehicle collision case, the plaintiff usually must establish the legal theory of negligence before receiving compensation. The first element of a negligence claim involves showing that the other driver owed you a duty of care. When we get behind the wheel, we owe other motorists a duty to operate our vehicle with the same reasonable care and skill that a prudent motorist would use when faced with a similar situation. Next, the plaintiff must show that the defendant failed to operate his or her motor vehicle according to this standard.
In personal injury actions, a plaintiff sometimes can utilize the negligence per se doctrine. This theory holds that when the plaintiff can show that the defendant violated a statute at the time of the crash, a rebuttable presumption arises that the defendant was driving negligently. Under Missouri Statutes Section 302.302.1, drivers who engage in reckless driving and who fail to exercise sound judgment behind the wheel can be cited for a Careless & Imprudent Driving (C&I) violation. This may be useful evidence that an incident of negligence has occurred, although it is far from necessary to prove a claim.
The third element of a negligence claim is called causation. It requires the plaintiff to show a connection between the defendant’s negligent conduct and the injuries that the victim suffered. Generally speaking, this means that the crash was a foreseeable result of the defendant’s carelessness and that it likely would not have happened otherwise.
Finally, the plaintiff will be asked to provide evidence supporting the damages that he or she is claiming in the lawsuit. These often include medical bills, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, property damage, pain and suffering, diminished quality of life, and expenses for future medical care.
Moreover, it is important to know that punitive damages may be available in texting while driving accident cases. Missouri Statutes Section 510.265.1 allows plaintiffs to recover punitive damages in situations when the defendant’s conduct was reckless, wanton, or willful. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant acted with one of these mental states by clear and convincing evidence. Punitive damages are an additional form of damages that go beyond the compensatory damages that are typically available. They are intended to punish a defendant for egregious behavior and deter others in similar situations.