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How Cell Phones Have Changed Car Accident Cases
As more and more laws are passed across the United States banning cell phone use while driving, the activity is becoming akin to intoxication in the eyes of the law. With every state in the U.S. containing robust DUI/DWI laws, it is a foregone conclusion that if alcohol or drugs are found to have affected drivers in auto accidents, those drivers are far more likely to be labeled at fault by the judicial system.
Distraction While Driving Laws
Many lawmakers believe cell phone use to be a similar distraction while driving, and as laws are passed across the country, judges are taking this into account. Young people are especially vulnerable to auto accidents while phoning or texting while driving. While the ubiquitous spread of cell phones is only about 10-15 years in the making, legal paradigms are already shifting, casting fault on drivers found to be distracted by cell phones. This legal precedent is supported by several scientific studies showing that the effects of cell phone use on driving skill is similar to the effects of alcohol.
Cell Phones' Tripartite Impact On Car Accident Cases
Cell phones have had a significant impact on the legal processes and outcomes of car accident cases. They have done so in three major ways:
- Legislative - Laws across the country have been passed or are in the process of being passed to ban cell phone usage. Federal bans on cell phone use by interstate commerce and transport drivers have been passed, and official workers in many states may not use cell phones while driving on state business.
- Judicial Precedent - Many plaintiffs have argued successfully that distracted driving due to cell phone use is a valid reason for claiming fault. As judicial precedents build on one another, they snowball into widespread legal acceptance.
- Scientific Study - Often used by plaintiffs to prove their cases, research into the effects of cell phone use while driving has seen many advances in recent years.
If you have been accused of causing an automobile accident, you would do well to understand the potential effect of cell phones on a judge's ruling. If you were using a cell phone at the time of the accident, you may be at risk for a harsher sentence, but if you can prove that the other driver was using a cell phone, your level of fault may be diminished. Speak with your auto accident lawyer for consultation on the specifics of your charge.