Every motorist has a legal responsibility to ensure safe driving while behind the wheel. As a driver, you are expected to have your full attention on your driving, to ensure your safety and that of others around you. However, distracted driving is still a major problem in the state of Florida.
According to statistics, Florida is the second-worst state for distracted driving. Distracted driving accounts for over 50,000 accidents each year. This means that each day, there is an average of 137 distracted-driving crashes in the state. And thanks to these accidents, thousands are injured while more than 200 people lose their lives each year in Florida.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of an inattentive driver, contact our Odessa distracted driving accident lawyers. Distracted driving can lead to serious accidents and you may be entitled to receiving compensation. It isn’t right or fair to have to deal with the burden of someone else’s action alone. We can help you get the justice you deserve.
Our skilled team of car accident attorneys at Winters and Yonker will aggressively fight for your rights and ensure that you receive fair and maximum compensation for your injuries. Get in touch with us today at (888) 373-7770 to schedule your free consultation.
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What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is defined by the Florida Department of Transportation as anything that diverts the driver’s attention away from the crucial task of driving. There are three types of driver distractions that we are going to discuss below.
Common Types of Distracted Driving
Distractions can impair your driving in the following ways:
This is anything that causes the driver to take their eyes off the road. This can include looking at billboards, looking at something on the side of the road, checking their kids, etc.
This refers to anything that causes the driver to their hands off the wheel. This can include scuffling to find a misplaced item, fastening their child or pet, etc.
This refers to anything that causes the driver to take their minds off the task of driving. This can include driving while fatigued.
While distracted driving is mainly associated with texting while driving, there are many other forms of distracted driving. However, texting while driving is considered the most dangerous distracted driving activity since it covers all three types of distracted driving. Lawmakers in the state of Florida are currently focused on minimizing the number of distracted driving crashes caused by texting while driving.
Laws Regarding Distracted Driving in Florida
The state of Florida has enacted various laws in a bid to curb distracted driving accidents. In 2019, tougher rules and restrictions in regards to distracted driving were put in place through the enactment of The Wireless Communications While Driving Law. The state also started the Put It Down: Focus on Driving campaign which aimed at educating the people of Florida on distracted driving law.
The Wireless Communications While Driving Law
Under section 316.305, Florida Statutes, law enforcement is allowed to pull over drivers and issue citations to those who are texting and driving. This is known as the primary enforcement of distracted driving laws. The law recognizes that a driver who is manually entering multiple numbers, letters, or symbols into a wireless communications device to text or email, will not be able to properly operate a vehicle.
Previously, the police could only cite you for breaking distracted driving laws only if you violated another law in the process. Under section 316.306, Florida Statutes, the state of Florida prohibits:
- The use of wireless communication devices in a handheld manner in active school zones.
- The use of wireless communication devices in a handheld manner in active work zones.
There are exceptions to the distracted driving laws in Florida, and they apply to:
- Motorists using their devices to report emergencies or criminal activities to law enforcement.
- Motorists using navigational systems.
- Motorists operating autonomous vehicles in autonomous mode.
- Drivers of authorized emergency vehicles while carrying out official duties.
- Motorists receiving messages relating to the navigation/operation of their vehicles or information relating to safety.
What Damages Can Victims Get From A Distracted Driving Accident Claim in Florida?
You are able to recover the following types of damages through an injury claim in Florida:
This refers to damages that are financial in nature. They can include medical expenses, lost income, loss of earning capacity, etc.
This refers to non-tangible damages that can be assigned a monetary value. They include loss of enjoyment of life, loss of companionship, etc.
These types of damages are rarely awarded to distracted driving victims since they are only awarded if the at-fault party’s actions amounted to gross negligence or intentional behavior. They are meant to punish the defendant for wrongful acts and deter similar such behavior. A great deal of evidence is required to provide a basis for seeking punitive damages.
If awarded, Florida law has put a cap on punitive damages, which is three times the compensatory, or $500,000, whichever is greater.
How Long Do I Have To File A Claim In Florida?
If you’ve been injured as a result of distracted driving in Florida, you have up to four years to initiate a civil lawsuit.
If the distracted driving crash led to the loss of a loved one, the deadline for filing a claim against the distracted driver is two years from the date of death.
Why Do I Need A Lawyer If Hit By A Distracted Driver?
When dealing with a case involving distracted driving, it is imperative that you enlist the services of an experienced Odessa personal injury attorney. Obtaining maximum compensation and proving negligence on the part of the distracted driver can be quite challenging especially when dealing with serious injuries.
Florida is a no-fault state which means that insurance companies of the motorist are required to pay for accident expenses regardless of who’s at fault. However, if the total damage amount exceeds your coverage, you will need to bring a claim against the at-fault driver.
Your attorney will conduct proper and thorough investigations to prove negligence on the part of the other driver, prove the true extent of your damages and injuries, handle negotiations with insurance companies, prepare all the required paperwork while ensuring all deadlines are met, and provide effective legal representation in court.
Get In Touch With An Odessa Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer Today
If you’ve been harmed following a distracted driving crash in Odessa, Florida, you need to reach out to our experienced team at Winters and Yonker as soon as possible. Our personal injury firm is committed to assisting victims of distracted driving get the full compensation that they deserve. Contact us today at (888) 373-7770 to schedule your free initial consultation.