What Should I Do if I’m the Victim in a Texting and Driving Accident?

 

Texting while driving accidents happen all too often in the Denver area, but if you were a victim, you should know Colorado texting and driving laws.

It seems like we read about texting and driving accidents every day. I heard a story last April that made me mad and deeply sad at the same time. A California teenager was texting while she was driving, and ended up rolling her car three times, but survived with just scrapes and bruises. And yet, one year later, she again texted while driving, lost control of her car and crashed. She died the next day. I suppose the silver lining is that she didn’t kill anyone else.

What is it going to take for people to learn that texting while driving is a deadly choice?

I’m actually not going to rant any more about how people should know better. They just should by now. This blog is about what you should do if you are the victim in a texting and driving accident and the Colorado texting and driving laws you should know to protect you..

First, here are the facts: A texting driver is legally liable for the damages that he or she causes in an accident. Why? Every state in the country imposes upon every driver a legal “duty of care,” (obligation) toward other drivers who share the road. This means every driver must look out for the safety and well-being of every other driver. When a person violates this duty by violating laws or safety guidelines (ie, by texting, drinking, speeding), they are considered negligent in any accident they cause.

Gather the Proof from the Texting and Driving Accident

Now, of course, proving a person’s negligence is another order of difficulty entirely. How do you collect evidence to prove that someone was texting while driving?  Here is a list of things to consider:

  • Cell Phone Records: It is tricky to get cell phone records. In fact, no cell phone company will hand them over unless they are forced by a court order or subpoena. If, however, you can get your hands on the records, they can provide powerful proof that the negligent driver was using his or her phone. Cell phone companies don’t keep records of text content for longer than a few days, but they do keep records on the fact that the text occurred and when it occurred. If you are involved in an accident involving a driver who was texting, I strongly recommend that you hire an attorney very quickly. That person should know how to move quickly to secure the cell phone records that you’ll need in your case.
  • Photographs and Videos: If you are physically able, take as many pictures and videos of the texting and driving accident scene as possible. (If you’re not able, but you can speak, ask a witness to get the photos and videos for you.) These images will help your attorney to understand the accident better, because they will show the point of impact, skid marks, stop signs and traffic signals.
  • Police Reports: Always call the police! As I’ve said before, I’ve never represented someone who regretted calling the police. I have met many, many people who wish they had called the police after an accident. When the officers arrive, make sure that you tell them if you suspect that the other driver was texting. The officer may issue the other driver a ticket for using a cell phone or texting while driving, and that will be a powerful tool for your Colorado personal injury attorney.
  • Witnesses: If you are injured by someone who was texting and driving, your most powerful weapon in your defense may be witnesses. Often, other drivers or pedestrians see people texting behind the wheel prior to any accident that they cause. How many times have YOU seen someone driving erratically only to pull up alongside and discover – yup! – they’re texting while driving. Witnesses may be as critical as a police report that charges someone with using their phone while driving.
  • Get the Care You Need: I know that it’s scary to think that your medical bills are going to pile up while a Denver accident attorney is working on your case. (In Colorado, you can’t recover any of your medical costs until your case is settled. There is no “pay-as-you-go” program.) But you truly do need to get medical care for your injuries. First, your injuries may impact the rest of your life negatively if you don’t get treatment. Second, you can’t get reimbursed for care you don’t receive! If you forego treatment, potentially setting yourself up for a lifetime of pain, and you ultimately receive a medical settlement – that amount won’t reflect the care that you SHOULD have gotten!

What are Colorado’s Texting and Driving Laws?

In 2009, the Colorado General Assembly adopted legislation that added new restrictions on cell phone use and texting while driving. (See this 2014 report for more.) Under the previous Colorado texting and driving law, only drivers with a temporary permit (ie 15- and 16-year-olds as well as other new drivers) were prohibited from using phones behind the wheel. Today, the following laws apply to cell phone use while driving in Colorado:

  • Minor drivers: Any driver under 18 years of age is prohibited from using a cell phone while driving.
  • Adult drivers: Adult drivers are prohibited from texting or sending other similar transmissions while driving. (I assume this would include social media posts.)

There are exceptions to these Colorado texting and driving laws. For example, drivers of any age can make a call or send a text during an emergency, including fear for your life, witnessing or experiencing a criminal act, reporting a fire, medical emergencies and more.

In 2014, Colorado lawmakers rejected an all-out ban on cell phone use while driving. There seemed to be disagreement about the language in the bill, but there was some agreement that Colorado might make its laws more restrictive in the future. I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, if you’ve been the victim in a texting and driving accident, please call me immediately at (303) 388-5304. Not only would I happily – free of charge – discuss your case and help you understand its merits, but I could quickly secure those cell phone records for you. And if you have any questions at all about this article, please contact me.


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