Since 2005, the number of device-distracted drivers has increased 1,500 percent. As hand-held devices become increasingly sophisticated and available, this statistic will probably continue to increase. At the same time, non-device distraction continues to be a significant problem. Many people effectively multi-task their way through their days. They erroneously assume it is safe for them to multi-task behind the wheel.
As outlined below, a Rockford personal injury lawyer can obtain substantial compensation for victims of both device and non-device distracted driver crashes. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering. In some extreme cases, additional punitive damages might be available as well.
Device Distraction and Negligence Per Se
Illinois has a hand-held cell phone ban. This law prohibits all such use while a vehicle is in motion. That includes talking, texting, taking pictures, streaming video, surfing the web, and most other activities.
Under the negligence per se rule, safety laws like the cell phone ban establish the standard of care. Therefore, tortfeasors (negligent drivers) who violate such laws and cause crashes could be responsible for damages as a matter of law.
Illinois’ cell phone ban has a few listed exceptions, such as making an emergency 9-1-1 call while driving. Additionally, the cell phone ban does not apply to hands-free devices, unless the driver is 19 or younger.
There is considerable evidence that hands-free devices are more dangerous than hand-held devices. Hands-free devices give drivers a false sense of security, even though they are almost as distracting as hand-held devices. Speakerphones are visually and cognitively distracting. Users take their mind and eyes off driving and the road.
Since this behavior is technically legal, victims must rely on the ordinary negligence doctrine, which involves a breach of the duty of ordinary care.
Non-Device Distraction and Ordinary Negligence
Many other behaviors are distracting. Some are visually or cognitively distracting. Others are manually distracting, forcing drivers to take their hand(s) off the wheel. Most distractions are a combination of at least two (2) forms of distraction. This list includes:
- Eating while driving,
- Drinking while driving,
- Talking to passengers while driving,
- Adjusting the radio while driving, and
- Sightseeing while driving.
Circumstantial evidence on this point includes erratic driving prior to the crash, device use logs (if applicable), and the tortfeasor’s statements about distracted driving.
Although the burden of proof is quite low, most victims must introduce substantial evidence to obtain maximum compensation. Many jurors do not consider the above behaviors to be a breach of duty. The more evidence an attorney presents, the more likely a jury is to change their minds. Additionally, there is usually a direct relationship between the amount of evidence in the claim and the amount of compensation the victim receives.
Rely on an Experienced Attorney
Distracted driving crash victims usually have several legal options. For a free consultation with an experienced Rockford personal injury lawyer, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd. We routinely handle matters in Winnebago County and nearby jurisdictions.