Mobile Communications Devices & Your Personal Injury Case

After being injured in a vehicle collision caused by another driver, you may be considering hiring a personal injury lawyer if the insurer's settlement offer seems low. Be sure to tell any lawyer you consult if you have reason to believe the other driver was distracted by mobile communications technology. For instance, you may have seen this individual holding a phone, looking down as though texting or wearing a hands-free device.

Being distracted by personal electronic communication equipment is a significant risk factor for an accident. If your lawyer finds evidence that the driver was talking on a phone, texting, emailing or using the Internet, this may convince the driver's insurance company to make you a better settlement offer. 

Legal Considerations

Several states do not allow using a handheld cell phone while driving. Nearly all states prohibit texting while driving. States that do not allow texting while driving may include related bans on using a personal digital assistant, emailing or looking at something online. 

Even if the state where your accident occurred doesn't specifically outlaw the activity the other driver engaged in, it may have general laws against driving while distracted. Your lawyer will want to learn whether the driver who caused the accident was cited by law enforcement for any type of distracted driving. That will support your case. 

Relevant Research 

No states prohibit hands-free phone use as of April 2015. However, research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety indicates that this equipment can be just as distracting as -- if not worse than -- talking on a handheld phone. 

Strangely enough, voice-to-text appears to be worse than phone conversations. The driver speaks into the device, which converts the spoken word into a text message or an email. Drivers keep their eyes on the road, but the mental distraction is extensive. In contrast, the study found that using either hands-free or handheld cell phones constitutes a moderate level of distraction. 

The National Transportation Safety Board wants a nationwide ban on the use of all personal electronic communication devices in vehicles, other than for emergencies, because of the connection with traffic accidents and fatalities. 

A federal website about distracted driving compares driving while texting manually to driving while blindfolded. People have no idea how much distance they cover at 55 miles per hour in a matter of seconds. 

If You Were Using a Mobile Device

The situation becomes more complex if you also were talking on the phone or were otherwise distracted by a communications device when the accident happened. This is something you should tell your lawyer, since the other driver, police officers at the scene or witnesses may know about it. 

Most states follow comparative negligence guidelines. You could be considered partially at fault, whereas the other driver is considered primarily at fault. This could reduce the amount of compensation you would normally receive.

If the state where the accident occurred has contributory instead of comparative negligence laws, you might not be able to obtain compensation at all. That might be the case if law enforcement considered your cell phone use a contributing factor in the accident. Perhaps you couldn't react fast enough to prevent a collision because you were distracted, for example. 

Concluding Thoughts

Considering the complexity of cases that involve mobile communication usage in vehicles, don't attempt to resolve this matter on your own. A personal injury lawyer knows strategies to convince an insurer to pay better compensation when that company has made an unreasonable settlement offer. Don't hesitate to make contact with a law firm at a site like today and explain your situation. It's a smart step toward receiving the money you deserve.