Punitive Damages for Texting and Driving
It may not surprise Miami drivers to know that Florida is one of the most dangerous states in which to commute and drive. In South Florida, population density and aggressive drivers are just a few of the factors that cause accidents. Of course, distracted driving is also a common issue in many accidents, as well. And while distracting driving is a problem in Florida, it is also a problem nationwide. To be sure, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that distracted drivers caused 3,145 fatalities and 424,000 injuries in 2013. These numbers are an increase from previous years. As such, it should not be surprising that many states have banned texting and driving and authorized courts to award higher damage amounts to victims injured by texting drivers.
Distracted Driving is Dangerous
Texting and driving distracts drivers on three different levels: visually (takes the driver’s eyes off the road), manually (takes the driver’s hands off the wheel) and cognitively (takes the driver’s focus of driving). Similar to drunk drivers, distracted drivers have slower reactions times and are likely to drift in between lanes causing serious injuries and property damage.
Texting and Driving is Illegal in Florida
Texting and driving is so dangerous that 46 states have the act. Florida law bans texting while driving, as well. Lawmakers passed the law with the intent of:
- Improving road safety for all vehicles, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians;
- Preventing collisions caused by texting;
- Reducing victim injuries and deaths;
- Decreasing property damage; and
- Avoiding increased health care and car insurance rates.
This law may not be as effective as Florida lawmakers had envisioned. This is because texting and driving is only a secondary offense. This means that police officers must first pull over a driver for another traffic violation (e.g. speeding, failure to stop) in order to cite the driver for texting while driving. As such, it is not much of a deterrent for many drivers statewide.
Victims of Distracted Drivers May Seek Punitive Damages
Of course, if you are injured by a driver who was texting, Florida law may allow you to file a personal injury action. Furthermore, you may also be able to seek punitive damages for your injuries. Courts may award punitive damages to victims when the responsible party acted carelessly or recklessly. Since texting and driving is extremely reckless and dangerous, courts may decide to award victims punitive damages as a punishment and future deterrent for others.
Contact an Attorney for Help
Victims of distracted drivers may be able to seek damages to help them recover from their economic and noneconomic injuries. If you have been injured in a car accident and you believe the other driver was distracted, please contact the Miami accident attorneys at the office of Alan Goldfarb, P.A. We can advise you on the best steps for recovering from your injuries and help you seek punitive damages. Please contact us today to schedule an appointment.