June 7, 2021 | Oklahoma Law
Distracted driving continues to be a problem in the United States. It is estimated that nine people die and 1,000 are injured each day in traffic accidents involving a distracted driver. Texting while driving remains one of the most common forms of distracted driving in the United States. Unfortunately, it is also one of the deadliest risks drivers take when driving.
Texting while driving requires you to engage manually, visually, and cognitively with your cell phone. Those are all three of the areas of distraction for a driver. Therefore, texting while driving is extremely dangerous.
However, it is not just texting while driving that can be dangerous. Using your cell phone for any reason while driving could be deadly. Checking emails, posting to social media, watching a video, or taking a picture can also cause a serious or fatal distracted driving accident.
Texting While Driving is Illegal in Oklahoma
Oklahoma passed a law in 2015 making it illegal for drivers to text while driving. It is a primary traffic offense, meaning officers may stop a driver and issue a ticket for breaking the texting law.
The penalty for a texting ticket is a $100 fine. However, the other potential costs of a texting ticket could be much more. In addition, if the driver causes an accident while texting and driving, the at-fault driver could be liable for damages in a civil court action.
Civil Court Action for Texting and Driving Accident
Distracted driving can be the basis of a personal injury claim. If you can show that the driver’s distraction caused the traffic accident, the distracted driver is responsible for your damages. The driver does not need to be held criminally liable or receive a texting traffic ticket.
However, a conviction could lead to a negligence per claim. The driver is automatically assumed to be at fault for the cause of the crash if the driver broke the law. Because driving while texting is a criminal violation, a guilty verdict could give the plaintiff a basis for a lawsuit.
Injuries and Damages Caused by Texting While Driving
The injuries individuals sustain in texting accidents can be severe. For example, a person may sustain broken bones and a traumatic brain injury. In addition, they could sustain a spinal cord injury, back injury, and damage to internal organs. Some of the injuries could result in permanent impairments and disabilities.
The damages caused by a texting and driving accident can be significant. If a victim sustains permanent impairments or disabilities, the future loss of income and future personal care costs could be astronomical.
Damages included in a distracted driving accident include:
- Medical bills and expenses related to the crash
- The cost of long-term or in-home personal care
- Loss of income and benefits
- Decreases in earning potential
- Physical, emotional, and mental pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life and decrease in the quality of life0
How much your case is worth depends on the facts of the case. If you were partially to blame for the cause of the crash, your compensation could be reduced under Oklahoma’s comparative fault laws. The amount of your compensation is reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you by the jury for causing the traffic accident.
A lack of evidence and documentation proving damages could also lower the value of your case. Failing to follow your doctor’s treatment plan is another factor that could negatively impact the value of your claim.
However, some factors increase the value of a car accident claim. If you sustain permanent disabilities or impairments because of accident injuries, the value of your claim may increase. You may recover compensation for future medical and personal care and future loss of income.
Deadlines for Filing Claims Related to Texting While Driving
If a driver caused your accident because they were texting, you could hold that driver financially liable for the damages caused by the car wreck. Yet, you do not have forever to file your claim. The Oklahoma statute of limitations sets deadlines for filing personal injury lawsuits.
In most cases, car accident victims have two years from the car crash date to file a lawsuit. However, there could be some exceptions that change that deadline. A personal injury lawyer can review your case and calculate the correct deadline for filing your claim.
Bottom Line . . . Avoid Distractions While Driving
Your life is not worth a text message or selfie. When you are driving, leave your phone alone. Do not send text messages, and do not do anything else that would take your focus away from the road and driving.