Somerville Texting and Driving Accident Lawyer
Distracted driving is not just dangerous, it has become something close to an epidemic. According to government data, the number of crashes in Massachusetts attributable to distracted driving rose 170 percent between 2014 and 2016, provoking a number of changes to state laws regarding what drivers can do behind the wheel of their vehicles.
If you were injured in an accident caused by someone on their phone, a dedicated Somerville texting and driving accident attorney could likely help you pursue a civil case against them in addition to whatever criminal penalties they may be facing. Once retained, a qualified Somerville texting while driving accident lawyer could work with you to collect evidence of liability, take stock of all your damages, and seek appropriate compensation to the fullest extent that civil law allows.
For a free case review, call the Somerville texting and driving accident lawyers at the Law Office of John J. Sheehan (617) 977-6647 today for a free case review.
Texting While Driving as Grounds for a Civil Case in Somerville, MA
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 §13B makes it a misdemeanor offense to send a text-based message on any Internet-enabled device while driving. Furthermore, a bill signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker in late 2019 will make it illegal to use any handheld device while driving as of February 23rd, 2020.
If a driver violates the law by texting behind the wheel, they may face criminal penalties if they are caught doing so by a law enforcement officer. However, if they cause an accident because of this reckless behavior, anyone injured as a result could file a separate civil lawsuit against that negligent driver for damages sustained.
Since texting while driving is a criminal act, it generally fulfills the criteria for legal negligence, as acting in such a dangerous way violates the duty of care that all drivers have to protect other drivers on the road.
More specifically, drivers owe one another a duty to use the same care and skill that an ordinary driver of reasonable prudence would use when driving. If they fail to meet this level of care and skill, they can be held liable for the ensuing injuries and damages. Violating a traffic law such as the texting while driving law – which was written to keep people safe – automatically shows a violation of this legal duty, supplying many of the elements of a negligence lawsuit.
In order to recover compensation on these grounds, though, a plaintiff would need to prove that the driver’s texting proximately caused the wreck that injured them, so seeking assistance from a Somerville texting while driving accident lawyer is still recommended.
“Proximate cause” is a legal concept separate from a “cause in fact” and shows that the cause was closely related to the accident in such a way that the defendant can indeed be held liable. For example, the fact that someone at the store sold the driver a cell phone was part of the chain of causation that led to the driver texting behind the wheel, but that is not closely related in time or place to the accident. Instead, we have to show that the driver’s texting while driving directly led to the crash, without intervening issues in order to hold them liable for the crash.
Lastly, there must also be damages for you to be able to use the defendant’s texting while driving as grounds for a lawsuit. Damages in a car accident case most commonly involve the cost of repairing your vehicle, the costs associated with your injuries, and the pain and suffering from the injuries themselves. We go into more detail about damages below.
Proving the existence of these damages is nonetheless an important element of your case. Without some harm to redress, you have no case. Our Somerville texting and driving accident lawyers can help you find proof of your damages to help prove each element of your case in court.
Damages You Can Recover If You Were Injured in a Somerville Texting and Driving Accident
Distracted driving accidents can result in serious injuries such as broken bones, spine and brain damage, burns, lacerations, and harm to internal organs, especially if the crash such a driver causes occurs at high speed. Financial costs associated with treatment of these and other injuries typically form the backbone of any personal injury lawsuit a subsequently injured person elects to pursue.
Of course, medical bills are not the only type of loss our Somerville texting and driving lawyers can pursue compensation for. Other recoverable economic damages include loss of wages from an injury keeping the plaintiff out of work, loss of future wages due to long-term effects of an injury, and repair or replacement costs for damaged personal property.
Calculating lost wages can be a complex procedure and may need to take into account your projected career path before the injury: wages you received at the time of injury; potential future raises; the ultimate projected age you would have retired at; etc. We may need to hire a financial expert to help calculate these damages and provide their projections to the court. Personal property damage, such as the damage to your vehicle, will also need estimates and repair bills to prove these costs.
In many cases, non-economic damages may be recoverable as well. These can include but are not limited to pain and suffering, loss of consortium, loss of enjoyment of life, and ill effects stemming from a newfound permanent disability. Calculating and proving these damages is something our Somerville texting and driving accident lawyers will be able to help with. We can use our experience with other cases to help estimate what your specific injuries should be worth. We can also use your testimony about the experience to help show the jury how severe your case was and what non-economic damages you deserve.
However, in order to get non-economic damages for a car accident in the first place, you must meet some thresholds set by Massachusetts’ no-fault insurance rules. This usually requires showing some sort of serious injuries as well as at least $2,000 in economic damages before non-economic damages are available.
Massachusetts typically does not allow punitive damages, so you cannot get additional damages to punish the defendant. However, they can still be punished via the criminal case that can also be filed against them for texting while driving.
Proving Texting While Driving Cases in Massachusetts
Proving that a driver had their cell phone in their hand and sent or read a text when the crash occurred is often a bit more difficult than it would appear. Testimony that you actually saw the driver looking down at their phone when the crash occurred will be the best evidence of this. The driver’s admission to texting while driving or “looking down for a second” would also supply good proof of their texting while driving. However, other evidence might be available as well.
We may be able to subpoena phone records and logs from the phone itself to show that a text was sent or received around the same time as the crash. However, this does not necessarily supply evidence that the driver was actually looking at their phone or that they had it in their hand. To prove this, you will need additional evidence such as an eyewitness account.
Lack of Skid Marks Indicating Distraction
If a driver was very distracted at the time of the crash, they might not have seen the dangers and might have crashed without hitting the brakes. When this happens, there will be no skid marks. Therefore our Somerville texting and driving accident lawyers might be able to use the lack of skid marks as proof that the driver who hit you was distracted.
Police Officer Testimony
A police officer’s observations might also be able to help you prove that the driver was texting and driving. If the police officer saw the driver texting soon before the crash, that can supply proof that it helped contribute to the crash. Additionally, the police officer will be in a good position to hear the driver’s post-crash account of events. This might potentially include an admission that they were texting or that they looked down at their phone while driving.
If the police officer has enough evidence to charge the driver with texting while driving, they can potentially testify to that information as part of your civil case as well. Our Somerville texting and driving accident lawyers will seek out a copy of the police report and subpoena the responding officer to get their account of events and look for evidence that can help prove your claim.
Next Steps to Take After a Texting and Driving Accident Lawyer
Although cell phones provide a valuable service, they have also made roadways more dangerous in the form of distracted drivers. Following a crash caused by such a reckless individual, you may be wondering what to do next and how you will ever make up for the financial losses this incident forced upon you.
By talking to a Boston texting while driving accident lawyer, you could get a much clearer picture of your legal rights and have professional help identifying and pursuing the best course of action for your unique circumstances.
In many cases, our attorneys can help you file a lawsuit to get the damages you deserve. But it is important to act quickly. Witnesses might forget what happened, evidence of skid marks could go away over time, and phone logs might be overwritten. Although the law in Massachusetts allows three years for a lawsuit, you should begin your case much sooner by contacting our Somerville t4exting and driving accident lawyers as soon as you can.
Get Help from Our Somerville Texting While Driving Victim’s Attorney
For a free case review, contact the Law Office of John J. Sheehan today. Call (617) 977-6647 today to start discussing your case with a Somerville personal injury lawyer.