Lawmakers have taken note of skyrocketing accident statistics associated with this reckless habit. Forty-six states, including Pennsylvania, have passed
legislation to ban texting behind the wheel. Pennsylvania has also made texting a primary offense, meaning that police are permitted to stop a driver solely on the suspicion that they are texting. Unfortunately, the punishment is fairly lenient - at only a $50 ticket.
However, in November of 2016, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed a bill called Daniel’s Law, which increases penalties for drivers who cause an accident by texting. Such drivers could face between 2 to 5 years in prison.
This law is named for Daniel Gallatin, a 68-year-old motorcycle rider who was struck from behind and killed by a woman who was texting at the time of the accident. This woman was sentenced to only 23 months in prison and served just 60 days. The Gallatin family fought to raise awareness of this issue and to pass the legislation.
Unfortunately, many PA police departments have claimed that these laws are difficult to enforce. Unless an officer has a closeup view of the driver, it’s difficult to prove that they are texting. They may be engaging in another distracted driving activity, such as adjusting the radio.
However, if you’ve been in an accident and suspect that the other driver was texting, it is possible to prove it. Make sure to contact a reliable personal injury lawyer as soon as possible following an accident. A shrewd attorney may be able to acquire the cell phone records of the other party, which could prove that a text was being sent at the time of the accident.
While it’s important to hold texting drivers criminally responsible for the accidents they cause, a guilty verdict won’t help compensate for the serious setbacks many victims may experience in the aftermath of their accident. In these instances, civil courts can help fill the gap by awarding compensation for the variety of issues accident victims face, including:
- Medical bills - Severe or chronic injuries may result in unmanageable medical bills. The at-fault party may be forced to cover these expenses if negligence is proved.
- Quality of life - If your accident has left you permanently disabled, or is preventing you from engaging in work or other activities which you were capable of performing prior to the accident, the defendant may be forced to financially compensate you for a loss of quality of life.
- Lost wages and missed work - Financial compensation may be awarded to cover lost earnings as a result of the accident, which includes salary as well as bonuses, pay raises, and promotions.
- Wrongful death - Losing a family member to a distracted driver creates an emotional wound which may never fully heal. However, financial compensation can help to make the grieving process more bearable by taking care of medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, lost financial support for family and surviving children, and lost earnings.
If you or a family member has been the victim of a crash caused by a distracted driver, you and your family may be suffering in a variety of ways. During this stressful time, you may be unsure of the next steps. Since the PA statute of limitations is only two years, it’s important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. He or she can begin building a case for you and earn the compensation you need in order to recover physically, mentally, and financially.