In Pennsylvania, it is illegal for all motorists to be using a cell phone to send or receive any text-based communication while the vehicle is in motion. Unfortunately, this does not prevent people from using cell phones when behind the wheel for other purposes, such as making or receiving phone calls.
This is especially dangerous when the operator of an 18-wheeler is distracted by a cell phone. Truck accidents involving cell phones in State College can result in devastating injuries and even fatalities. If you or a loved one were harmed in a collision with a drunk truck driver, working with a State College semi-truck crash attorney could be highly beneficial.
As the use of cell phones increases, so do texting-related crashes. From texting, emails, and social media, people are much more inclined to check their phones while driving.
While Pennsylvania prohibits tractor trailer drivers from any hands-on use of their cell phones while driving, violations do occur. Further, even hands-free use of a cell phone (such as Bluetooth or for GPS navigation), while not necessarily illegal, could be a sign of negligence or distraction in an ensuing civil case. As with driving too fast, following too close, or failing to account for the weather, using a cell phone could be indicative of defendant negligence and serve as the basis for a claim.
How the truck driver was using a cell phone is also important. If the truck driver was on social media, texting, or emailing at the time of the collision, a State College lawyer could argue that the motorist was driving recklessly. Reckless driving could give rise to punitive damages, which aim to punish the defendant for egregious conduct.
If a claimant believes the truck driver was using his or her cell phone at the time of the wreck, it is imperative that he or she contacts a local attorney to obtain the cell phone records. Cell phone records related to text messages, content, and transmittal of messages are only preserved for a short period.
Once the truck driver’s cell phone records are obtained, an experienced lawyer could look at the call logs to show whether the driver was on his or her cell phone directly before the collision. This can be done by looking at the date and time stamps on the messages compared with the 911 recordings of the accident being reported.
Under state law, consent of the account holder is required to obtain cell phone records. This can be obtained through a written authorization or through the subpoena process. In litigation, a subpoena can be obtained and sent to the insurance company to then produce those cell phone records. However, there are special rules for subpoenas that require advance notice to the opposing party’s counsel before that can occur.
Commercial vehicle drivers owe a duty of care to others on the road to drive their vehicles safely due to their increased weight and size. Should a 18-wheeler operator choose to use his or her cell phone while behind the wheel, he or she could cause devastating if not fatal harm.