What are your rights when a distracted driver causes a wreck?

On behalf of Bryson Law Firm, PLC | February 18, 2020 | personal injury | 0 comment

Distracted driving is a scourge of modern America, with thousands of people dying every year in crashes related to mobile phone use and many more suffering serious injuries or incurring expensive property damage.

If you are among those people impacted by another person’s distraction or addiction to mobile devices, it is only natural to wonder if you have any legal rights to hold them accountable for the impact of their bad decisions on your life and finances. However, you may feel uncertain about what rights you have and whether the other driver actually broke the law.

Although many people assume that texting while driving is illegal across the country, that isn’t true. There isn’t a federal law on the topic, and not all states have implemented comprehensive bans on distracted driving. Thankfully, Arizona has a law in place limiting the use of mobile technology at the wheel.

Arizona has a comprehensive mobile phone ban while driving

Some states only ban manual entry of text data, while other states only prohibit that kind of behavior if the driver is under the age of 21. In Arizona, however, the rules governing mobile phone use in a vehicle are quite strict.

Specifically, drivers cannot use a phone to make any kind of call or send any sort of message unless using hands-free mode. Voice commands, Bluetooth headsets and talk-to-text software are the only legal options for people who need to listen to or respond to text messages or other forms of digital communication while driving.

Anything other than that violates Arizona state law and leaves the driver potentially vulnerable to citation, with a first violation resulting in a fine of between $75 and $149 and any subsequent violations resulting in fines of between $150 and $250. Because driving while dialing a phone, talking on the phone or texting is against the law in Arizona, it also opens a driver up to civil liability if they cause a crash. 

When negligence contributes to a crash, the victim has a right to take action

Failing to adequately surveil your surroundings is a dangerous decision when in control of a vehicle that weighs hundreds of pounds and travels at speeds far beyond what humans could travel on their own.

When someone engages in a behavior that a reasonable person would find dangerous or inappropriate, the courts generally consider that action a form of negligence. Negligence can be grounds for an individual to bring a personal injury claim against someone who causes a crash.

In other words, if you think the other driver was texting when they crashed into your vehicle, you may be able to take them to court for the impact their decision has had on your life.