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Distracted Driving and Legal Liability

Distracted drivers pose a far greater threat to public safety than those who pay attention to their surroundings. The risk is so great that the federal government has set up a webpage to explain the issue and provide ideas for how it can be prevented. The state of Florida also understands the risks of distracted driving, and made April of 2016 Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

The statistics are troubling

According to the website’s statistics, in 2014 an average of 9 people were killed, and nearly 1,200 injured every single day as the result of distracted driving. And the Tampa area has it worse than most places. According to statistics from the Florida Highway Patrol, in 2015 there were more injuries caused by distracted driving in Hillsborough than every other Florida county except for Miami-Dade. This means that more populous counties–such as Broward and Palm Beach–had fewer injuries from distracted driving than Hillsborough did.

Some distractions, such as children quarreling in the back seat of a car, are as old as driving itself. There’s always going to be someone who thinks they can safely eat a hamburger and operate a vehicle at the same time. And while taking a pet out for a drive seems like a fun time for both the pet and its owner, the dog can also be a major distraction.

Phones are a major source of distraction

But far and away the biggest source of distracted driving is cellphones. And even where a hands-free option is available to drivers, the act of talking to another person on the phone is enough to cause a dangerous and perhaps deadly situation.

As smartphones and tablets have become more widely available in recent years, the number of accidents and fatalities has increased exponentially. And it isn’t only drivers who are at risk from distraction, either. Accidents involving distracted bicyclists and pedestrians are also on the rise, as more people become so focused on the screen in front of them that they forget to consider what is around them.

A modern culprit enters the picture

The 2016 craze surrounding Pokemon Go has raised this danger to a previously unseen level. Not only have drivers attempted to play the game while operating a moving vehicle, but pedestrians have become so engrossed in what is happening onscreen that they wander into traffic, without regard for the dangers this brings.

The duty that drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians have to exercise care and pay attention to their surroundings does not go away once distractions arise. People remain responsible for their actions, and the injuries or deaths that may arise from their negligence.

The makers of smartphones have not been held liable in court for distractions that their products have caused. The expectation is that drivers should understand their responsibilities well enough to put down their phones, and ignore any distractions, until they are safely arrived at their destinations. But this has not always been the case.

Receiving treatment and compensation

In the event of an accident caused by a distracted driver, an experienced lawyer can assist you with identifying the responsible party, and determining the amount and type of liability insurance available to pay for medical damages and other losses. At Barbas, Nunez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian, our experienced Tampa personal injury lawyers are available to help. Call toll-free at 1 (800) 227-2275 for a consultation today.

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