Car wrecks caused by people who are texting behind the wheel often have devastating consequences, especially if they are head-on or high-speed collisions. To make matters worse, it can be difficult for a person injured in such an incident to hold the responsible party liable for damages, since texting while driving is not a crime for most adults in Missouri.
However, just because recovering compensation after this type of accident is more complicated, it is not impossible. With assistance from qualified car crash attorneys, individuals who suffer injuries in texting while driving car accidents in Chesterfield could still be able to recover compensation based on a theory of negligence.
As of 2020, Missouri is one of only three U.S. states or territories that does not prohibit texting while driving. Currently, Revised Statutes of Missouri §304.820 only makes it illegal for drivers under the age of 21 to read, write, or send electronic messages while operating a motor vehicle on state highways. This statute also prohibits commercial drivers from using any handheld device while operating a commercial vehicle.
However, while texting behind the wheel is not expressly illegal for adults over the age of 21, it could still qualify as a negligent act if it directly leads to an accident that causes someone else to be injured. Since distracted driving could be considered a breach of the duty of care that all drivers owe each other, evidence that a defendant was texting while driving immediately prior to a car crash in Chesterfield could support an injured plaintiff’s case against them.
Once negligence has been proven in a civil claim stemming from a car accident, the injured party can seek financial restitution for every injury and loss they sustained as a direct result of that incident. Typically, a local attorney will help a claimant seek both objective economic damages like medical bills and costs of car repairs, and subjective non-economic damages like physical pain and loss of enjoyment of life.
In addition, Missouri is a plaintiff-friendly state in that it maintains a pure comparative fault system for personal injury claims, meaning that there is no amount of fault a plaintiff could bear for their own injuries that would bar them from recovery. However, a partially negligent claimant’s final damage award may still be reduced proportionately based on their percentage of fault.
Qualified legal counsel from the area could work with a person harmed in a texting while driving car wreck to contest any allegations of comparative fault the defendant attempts to levy against them. They could also ensure an injured plaintiff files their case within the five-year statutory deadline set by R.S.M. §516.120.
Arguably, one of the most valuable pieces of evidence in a collision caused by a distracted driver is the police report. Oftentimes, a police report will cite the at-fault driver for inattention or possibly the use of a cell phone. In some cases, the at-fault driver could be issued a citation for texting and driving, or they may admit to using their cell phone while behind the wheel. A lawyer could also speak with any witnesses or, in serious cases, subpoena the cell phone company of the at-fault driver to get their cell phone records.
A police officer has the right to look at a defendant driver’s phone and try to determine if they were texting and driving. However, getting access to the cell phone records is not an easy task for either law enforcement or a local attorney. This is usually reserved for cases that involve catastrophic injuries or fatalities. In most cases, investigations are limited to interviewing witnesses, the driver, and examining the physical cell phone.
When a driver is looking at their cell phone, that means they are not looking at the road ahead or paying attention to other drivers and pedestrians around them. If you are hurt by a driver who was distracted by a text message, you may have grounds to file suit against them and recover significant compensation.
It can be difficult to achieve successful outcomes in Chesterfield texting while driving car accident cases without help from an experienced legal representative. Call today to schedule an initial meeting and find out how a seasoned attorney could help you with your claim.