Truck accidents caused by cellphone use in Pennsylvania are becoming more and more common. As phones become a more integral part of our lives, the temptation to use them behind the wheel only increases – even for professional truck operators. If you have been injured in an accident caused by a distracted operator, a Western PA texting while driving truck accident lawyer could help you pursue compensation. Reach out to a truck accident lawyer today.
State Statutes Regarding Texting and Driving
According to state law 75 P.S. §3316, it is a crime for a driver to use a cellphone or an electronic device for anything other than making phone calls while a vehicle is in motion. This applies to sending, reading, or writing a message, and includes e-mail or any other written communications.
Pennsylvania does not currently prohibit a driver having the phone in their hand as long as they are talking on it, not texting or browsing. With that said, it does not mean that a person can use a phone free of civil liability. Even though it is not a crime to be on the phone, it could still be considered an act of negligence in the civil sense. A truck driver who is distracted by a phone call may still be liable for causing a serious accident.
What if the Plaintiff Was on Their Phone?
The use of a cellphone by the plaintiff at the time of an accident will impact their ability to recover compensation. In most cases, the defendant will claim that the plaintiff was distracted and that the fault for the accident was partially or fully the plaintiff’s.
The court then has to determine the degree of fault for each party. What percentage of the fault is attributable to the defendant? What percentage of the fault is attributable to the plaintiff? Anything that the plaintiff does is subject to scrutiny, and that would include speed, fatigue, intoxication, distractions, and use of a phone.
If both the injured party and the at-fault driver were found to be using their cellphones at the time of the accident, the court has to allocate fault. In Pennsylvania, as long as the plaintiff is 50% or less responsible for the accident, the plaintiff can still make a recovery. Pennsylvania has a system of what is called comparative negligence. As long as the plaintiff’s portion of the fault is not more than 50%, the plaintiff can still make a recovery. The recovery is then reduced by the portion of the plaintiff’s own fault. For example, if the recovery is $100,000 and the plaintiff is 10% responsible for the accident, they can still make a recovery of $90,000.
Evidence in a Cellphone Truck Accident Case
There are various types of evidence that may affect a truck driver texting while driving case. The first step for an attorney would likely be to identify what potential evidence might be out there, starting with the vehicle. Is there a dash camera? Is there a black box that would record the data? If so, the next step is finding out where the vehicles are and preserving that evidence. The lawyer would need to send letters out to these entities so that they do not tow the vehicle, delete valuable video footage, or destroy important data.
It may also be critical to preserve the truck driver’s phone records. Cellular providers keep a record of every call and message sent or received, including the duration and the number it was sent from or sent to. Cellphone records are only available for a very limited period of time, so time is of the essence.
Hiring a Western PA Texting While Driving Truck Accident Attorney
Contacting a texting while driving truck accident lawyer may be crucial to recovering compensation after an injury caused by a distracted driver. Even professional truck drivers can be distracted by texts, e-mails, and other notifications. If you have been hurt, you deserve monetary damages for hospital bills, lost income, and other injuries.