Every driver in Pennsylvania owes a duty of care to follow the traffic safety laws and prevent harm to others on the road. Unfortunately, if a driver is distracted by a cell phone, he or she could cause a collision with another motorist, biker, or pedestrian.
If you were involved in a vehicle collision and believe the other driver was using his or her cell phone at the time, contact a Western PA texting while driving accident lawyer. An experienced car wreck attorney could do a thorough investigation into the cause of the crash and help you seek the financial compensation you deserve.
Pennsylvania Laws Regulating Cell Phone Use in Vehicles
Pursuant to 75 P.S. §3316, no driver is permitted to to use a wireless communication device to send, read or write a text-based communication while the vehicle is in motion. If a person is driving while texting on the phone, he or she can face criminal charges and liability in the event of a wreck. However, hands-free systems are not currently required, such that it is not a crime to drive while talking on the cell phone. But one could still be found negligent in causing a crash, based on the fact that he or she was distracted by a cell phone.
This ban on texting-while-driving may assist a driver who is injured in an accident if the other driver has violated the statute. In other words, if a defendant is found to have been texting at the time of a vehicle collision, the injured claimant and his or her local attorney could use that violation as evidence of negligence.
Are There Legal Ways to Use a Cell Phone While Driving?
Drivers in Pennsylvania are not allowed to operate a wireless communication device to send, read or write text-based communications while the vehicle is in motion. That means if the vehicle is not in motion, a driver would not necessarily be violating this law, but that does not mean he or she was not not distracted. A person can be found legally negligent for causing a crash, even if he or she was not on the phone, so the fact that a driver was using a phone or was otherwise distracted, could be probative of his or her negligent conduct. Additionally, there are Bluetooth settings that people can use in a vehicle that allow them to use vocal commands, which would also be permitted as long as the driver is not distracted.
However, if using those features causes the driver to become distracted, that can give rise to negligence. Just because a person is not violating the Pennsylvania statute governing cell phone use does not mean he or she is not being negligent in the operation of a vehicle.
How Would a Case Be Affected if the Plaintiff Was Texting While Driving?
Following a vehicle collision, the first thing defendants’ insurance companies do is determine who is at fault for the accident. They will look at the conduct of the injured party and the conduct of the defendant driver. Under Pennsylvania law, for a plaintiff to make a recovery for their injuries, he or she must be no more at fault than the other driver. That is, a plaintiff must be 50 percent or less to blame.
If a claimant is using a cell phone at the time of the accident, it could result in him or her receiving a decreased damages award, if it can be proven that such usage contributed to the occurrence of the crash. An experienced attorney in Western Pennsylvania could review a claimant’s cell phone records to determine if he or she was texting at the time of the accident. Time is of the essence, however, as cell phone records may only be available for a very short period of time.
Evidence of Cell Phone Use During a Crash
As in all vehicle collision cases, attorneys are going to want to get the police report, witness statements, and any physical evidence from the scene. They may also collect surveillance footage from local businesses or dash cam video of the accident. With respect to cell phones and proving texting while driving, the primary evidence will be either call logs or text messages that were sent and their time stamps.
However, a potential challenge is that text messages that were not sent will not have a time stamp. Preserving an unsent text message is almost impossible and being able to prove that somebody was in the process of sending a text message can be difficult. To do this, an attorney in Western PA could get witness testimonies stating they saw the defendant looking at his or her phone before the collision.
Learn More About Texting While Driving from an Attorney in Western PA
When drivers are distracted, they put themselves and others on the road at risk of severe harm. Despite government efforts, many motorists choose to use their cell phones while behind the wheel. If you or your loved one were harmed by a driver who was texting, you could have grounds for legal recourse. A Western PA texting while driving accident lawyer could give you access to evidence you may not otherwise have, including a defendant’s cell phone records. Call the office of Marcus & Mack to schedule your free case consultation today.