Liability for Cell Phone-Related Crashes in Illinois

David Monteleone
Illinois Accident and Wrongful Death Lawyer

  Posted  |  Category : Auto Accident Attorney

Personal Injury AttorneyMobile device usage causes about 1.6 million car crashes a year. Most people agree that using a phone while driving is dangerous, yet most drivers admit they sometimes, or even regularly, engage in such behavior. Because of the danger and driver tendencies, Illinois has one of the broadest cell phone bans in the country. However, it does not apply to all cell phone-related misbehavior. Fortunately, there are other legal options available, as outlined below.

These expanded options give a Rockford personal injury attorney a very good chance to obtain a favorable settlement in these situations. That settlement usually includes compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Cell Phone Use, the Cell Phone Law, and Legal Liability

Many states have limited hands-free laws, which apply to texting and driving. These laws broadly define texting to include sending or reviewing any text-based communication, including social media posts and emails. Nevertheless, these limited hands-free laws have quite a few holes.

But 625 ILCS 5/12-610.2 flatly states, “A person may not operate a motor vehicle on a roadway while using an electronic communication device.” This definition includes not only talking and texting, but also app usage, web surfing, picture-taking and any other activity.

Because of this broad law, the negligence per se doctrine usually applies in hand-held cell phone cases in Illinois. Tortfeasors (negligent drivers) are generally liable for damages as a matter of law if:

  • They violate a safety law, and
  • That violation substantially causes injury.

This doctrine comes into play only if emergency responders write a 625 ILCS 5/12-610.2 citation. That may or may not happen, since in many serious injury cases, first responders are too busy with other tasks to write traffic tickets.

Cell Phones, Ordinary Negligence and Legal Liability

If the tortfeasor was using a phone and did not receive a ticket, the victim/plaintiff may file an ordinary negligence claim. Ordinary negligence is basically a lack of care. This concept comes from 1932’s Donoghue v. Stevenson, which established the principle that people have a legal responsibility not to harm their neighbors.

Ordinary negligence claims also apply to crashes, which involve hands-free phones. These gadgets are legal to use in Illinois, yet they may be worse than hand-held devices. Hands-free phones are visually and cognitively distracting. They cause drivers to take their minds off the road and their eyes off the road. Furthermore, hands-free devices give many drivers a false sense of security.

To establish a breach of duty in an ordinary negligence claim, the victim/plaintiff must have evidence. This proof usually involves physical evidence, such as:

  • Web browser log,
  • App usage data,
  • Call log, and
  • Text message records.

A Rockford personal injury attorney must act quickly to preserve all the potential physical evidence in a car crash claim. Otherwise, the vehicle owner may destroy it.

Car crash victims may also bring ordinary negligence claims after other inattentive driving crashes. Non-device distraction includes like talking to passengers while driving, eating while driving, and adjusting the radio while driving.

Rely on Dedicated Attorneys

Cell phone-related crash victims have several legal options. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Rockford, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd. You have a limited amount of time to act.