Texting While Driving Accident Lawyer In Fort Lauderdale
Texting and driving plagues all of Fort Lauderdale, but it is especially prominent in cities with stop-and-go traffic. In Fort Lauderdale, drivers often use their cell phones to read, write, and send text messages and emails on congested roadways. Slow speeds give drivers false confidence that they are safe to engage in this dangerous activity. Unfortunately, this act of negligence can cause rear-end collisions or worse – wrong-way crashes, pedestrian collisions, and head-on wrecks.
After a texting and driving accident in Fort Lauderdale, come to the Law Offices of Chalik & Chalik. You may be eligible for financial recovery. Waiting too long after the accident, however, can pose a risk of destruction of evidence. The sooner you call and discuss your case with an experienced Fort Lauderdale texting and driving attorney, the better!
Fort Lauderdale Cell Phone Laws
In Fort Lauderdale, talking on the phone while driving is legal. This includes handheld and hands-free devices. However, texting or typing on a handheld wireless communication device is against the law. Drivers may not legally read data on a wireless device, type messages, or send texts while behind the wheel. The only exceptions are if the driver is receiving navigation information, traffic data, or weather alerts. A driver may use his/her handheld device to report an emergency as well. A “text” may include any information on a wireless communications device, such as emails, instant messages, or app notifications.
The city of Fort Lauderdale currently does not have its own legislation concerning texting and driving. Therefore, drivers in Broward County must abide by state laws. This means they can talk and drive but not text. Breaking the state’s cell phone laws is incredibly dangerous. Cell phones are one of the most common forms of driver distraction involved in deadly car accidents in Fort Lauderdale.
Texting and driving falls under all three forms of distraction:
- Visual Distraction – Taking your eyes off the road
- Manual Distraction – Taking your hand(s) off the wheel
- Cognitive Distraction – Taking your mind off of what you’re doing
If there is evidence that a driver was physically manipulating his/her cell phone at the time of an accident, the courts may find the driver liable for other parties’ damages. Proving texting and driving may take accessing the driver’s cell phone records for the time of the crash. It may also require interviews with people who witnessed the crash, such as passengers in the vehicle. On-scene evidence may also point to distracted driving, such as lack of brake marks before impact. Jason and Debi Chalik have years of experience handling cell phone accident cases, and they know how to put together a strong case against a texting driver.
How to Prove Distracted Driving in Fort Lauderdale
Every 15 minutes, 12 people are killed in a car accident resulting from distracted driving. In addition, distracted drivers seriously injure over 2.5 million people each year. These numbers have nearly tripled in the last two years alone. Call our Fort Lauderdale distracted driving injury attorneys today for a free consultation. Safely operating a vehicle requires acute focus of all your senses, any action or task that involves one or more of these distractions is extremely dangerous. Drivers face many potential distractions including:
- Talking on a cell phone or to other passengers
- Eating or drinking
- Reading maps or GPS navigation systems
- Changing the radio station, CD or iPod
Due to the thousands of distracted driving accidents that take place every year, police and investigators have found ways to prove that the driver wasn’t paying attention to the road at the time. Crash scene investigations, vehicle inspections, collision recreation, eyewitness interviews, expert testimony, and evidence like cell phone data can all help accident victims prove another driver’s distraction. It can be difficult to prove distraction on your own, however. Retain a lawyer for access to all of the resources and specialists you need to hold a negligent driver accountable for inattention.
Gather Evidence from the Scene
If you can stay on the scene and gather evidence yourself, do so. Otherwise, ask a friend or family member to help you by returning to the scene and collecting information. You can also hire an attorney to investigate the crash after the fact. Evidence from the scene immediately after the crash can make or break your distracted driving case. Take photographs of the scene of the crash, including any vehicles involved, the location of the collision, and the roadway.
Photograph any tire marks or lack of tire marks on the road. Also, photograph the inside of the other driver’s car for possible proof of distraction, such as fast food boxes, GPS devices, or personal grooming objects. These photos may serve as proof later that the driver’s hands weren’t on the wheel or attention wasn’t on the road. Many serious accidents benefit from a team of professional investigators. Working with an attorney can put you in touch with investigative teams who may be able to prove driver distraction.
Obtain a Copy of the Police Report
In Florida, you have to report a car accident to police if it results in personal injuries, fatalities, or property damage in excess of $500. You must remain on the scene until police arrive and tell you it’s okay to leave. When police arrive, make sure to give them your version of what happened. If you don’t get your side of the story in, the other driver’s report could be all that makes it on record. Explain the facts of what happened, without inserting your personal opinions or speculation. Do not admit fault to the other driver, to police, or to your insurance company.
The police officer should inspect the scene and create an official record of the event. The record should include a description of the accident, names of parties involved, eyewitness information, and any other relevant data. The police report can serve as an important piece of evidence in your future claim, especially if it has the officer’s opinion of what happened based on the facts of the crash. Details in the report such as lack of brake marks on the road can help prove the other driver wasn’t looking at the road and didn’t have time to hit the brakes before a collision.
Request a copy of your traffic crash police report using your report number. Get this from the officer before you leave the scene of the accident. As a party involved in the crash, you can have access to the police report sooner than the 60-day exemption from public disclosure. You can request the report online using a simple questionnaire, or download the request form and mail it to the Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles, Traffic Crash Records Section. Keep a copy of your police report for insurance and personal injury claim purposes.
Collect Eyewitness Statements
Sometimes you can prove distracted driving with help from people who were there to witness the incident. Right after the crash, stay on scene and ask around if anyone saw the crash. Interview them at the scene or contact them shortly after, while the memory is still fresh in their minds. Get the witness’s permission to record a statement or ask that he/she write one down with a signature. Eyewitnesses may have noticed the other driver on his or her phone, eating and drinking in the vehicle, or otherwise driving distracted in the minutes prior to the crash.
Witnesses may have also seen the driver fail to stop at a traffic light, breeze through a stop sign, fail to yield the right-of-way, or otherwise cause the crash by breaking roadway rules. Broken road rules are common indicators of a distracted driver. Talk to bystanders who saw the accident as well as any passengers in either vehicle involved in the collision. Police may take witness statements, or you can do so yourself. If your case goes to trial, you may need to subpoena the witnesses to request that they testify about the other driver’s behaviors in front of a judge or jury.
Get Cell Phone Record Information
Texting and driving is a double-edged sword. Drivers can text and drive often without getting caught, but it’s an activity that’s easy to trace for car accident claims. Cell phones retain data and information that can incriminate the driver, proving he or she was breaking Florida’s cell phone laws. When you need cell phone records from the at-fault driver, you need an attorney’s assistance. It’s important to get a lawyer to submit an order for evidence preservation as soon as possible to prevent the driver or cell phone company from obtaining or deleting the information.
You will need to submit a subpoena, or a court order, to the cell phone carrier to produce cell phone records. The carrier must adhere to the subpoena and produce the records or face penalties such as jail time and fines. Fast action is imperative in getting cell phone records, as they only remain in the system for a limited period of time. You can only submit a subpoena after you or your attorney file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Cell phone logs can provide key evidence to the driver’s distraction. It can show exactly when the driver was using the phone to make calls, send texts, or access apps like Snapchat or Instagram. There will be timestamps next to texts and phone calls thanks to satellites and GPS features. If the driver was using the phone at the time of the accident or right before, this can serve as proof of driver distraction and fault for the collision. Your attorney can help you show a correlation between the phone record and the cause of the crash.
Hire an Expert Witness
Many personal injury claims in Fort Lauderdale involve the plaintiff hiring an expert witness to testify. An expert witness is someone especially qualified to comment on the circumstance at hand. For example, in a medical malpractice claim, an expert witness might be a doctor of the same profession as the doctor serving as the defendant. In a distracted driving case, expert witnesses could be anyone with special technical, scientific, or other knowledge that will assist the judge or jury in understanding the evidence of the case.
Proving the other driver was texting may be possible with help from an expert witness. Keep in mind, however, that defendants can also hire their own expert witness to testify. Hiring an expert is also a significant expense, but it can be worth the cost since the statements can go a long way in proving driver distraction. Working with a car accident lawyer is the easiest way to gain access to industry professionals in Fort Lauderdale who may be able to help prove your claim.
Visit a Fort Lauderdale Attorney Right Away
In Fort Lauderdale, injured car accident victims have four years from the date of the crash to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party. A Fort Lauderdale driving and texting attorney can answer all your questions and help you get the compensation you and your family deserves. Our team can make calls to ensure the protection of important evidence such as the other driver’s cell phone records. We at Chalik and Chalik can get the ball rolling on a personal injury case that could result in significant compensation for personal and property damages. Don’t wait after an accident to get the help you need. Call our office today.