At OnderLaw, LLC, our attorneys have seen firsthand the devastating accidents that distracted drivers can cause. When someone takes their eyes off the road, the risk of getting into an accident increases.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration defines distracted driving as any activity that takes a person’s attention away from driving safely. That includes texting or talking on the phone, eating, changing the radio station, using GPS, and many other tasks.
When you take your eyes off the road, even for just a few seconds, it could lead to fatal consequences. An individual driving at 55 mph can cross the length of an entire football field in only 5 seconds.
Imagine looking down at your phone for that amount of time. While you’re reading or sending a text, the environment around you changes. You might not notice that you’re merging into oncoming traffic, the car in front of you has slammed on their breaks, or a piece of debris is flying straight at you.
Everyone is busy. People are rushing to get to work or school, complete their errands, take care of their families, make time for a social life, and can’t find the time to communicate with others. The only free time they have is when they’re driving from one place to the next. So, they use that as their opportunity to send out necessary texts.
One of the most common reasons people of all ages text while driving is because they haven’t yet seen negative consequences for their actions. Even though they know it’s not safe, they believe they’re in complete control, and those who do get into an accident aren’t good at multitasking. Unfortunately, this flawed logic can lead to catastrophic and possibly fatal accidents.
Is it Illegal to Text While Driving in Missouri?
That’s a difficult question to answer. While Missouri did ban certain age groups from texting behind the wheel, it’s not illegal for everyone. Current laws only prohibit individuals under 21 years of age and commercial drivers from operating a motor vehicle and texting at the same time.
It seems strange that the law doesn’t forbid everyone from texting while driving. Adults could just as easily get into an accident as teenagers. However, the current law stands. Many people believe it’s unfair to single out a specific age group. The frequency of distracted driving accidents continues to rise, but lawmakers refuse to do anything about it.
How Do I Prove My Injury was the Result of Texting While Driving?
If you were hurt or if you lost a loved one because another driver was texting behind the wheel, you could seek financial compensation. Whether you were a pedestrian, on a bicycle, or in a car, it’s possible to pursue legal action against the responsible party.
Driving while texting is a careless act that puts other people at risk. Anyone who makes the conscious decision to do it should be held liable for the injured victim’s expenses.
Proving negligence is vital in any auto accident case. Negligence occurs when an individual doesn’t take the necessary steps to prevent injury to another person. Texting while driving is a clear act of negligence.
The state of Missouri follows standard fault laws. That means a person who causes a car wreck is liable for any physical harm, and their insurance company must pay for the injured party’s losses.
Providing sufficient evidence in an insurance claim could result in reimbursement of your costs. The most crucial evidence you should collect includes:
- A copy of the police report containing a citation against the other motorist for texting while driving
- The negligent driver’s auto insurance information
- Photos of the crash site, including damage to both cars
- Your medical records showing the necessary treatment of your injury
- Statements from people who witnessed the collision, such as bystanders and other drivers or passengers
When you file an insurance claim and submit the evidence and documentation you found, it could help determine the amount of compensation you deserve. The adjuster will review everything and provide a settlement offer they believe is fair for your suffering.
Factors that Determine the Value of Your Case
The majority of texting while driving accidents result in some sort of physical harm and vehicle damage. The amount of compensation you receive is dependent on various factors, including:
- The severity of your injury
- The duration of your treatment
- The amount of time you were unable to work
- Any permanent disabilities or long-term effects caused by the crash
- Total costs resulting from your injury
- Assessment of fault that contributed to the accident
All drivers in Missouri must carry auto insurance with liability coverage. Depending on the amount of the at-fault driver’s insurance, you could potentially receive compensation for your total damages. Damages are losses incurred from an accident or injury.
The damages from texting while driving accidents you’re entitled to include the following:
- Medical bills
- Car repair or replacement costs
- Lost wages
- Physical pain and suffering
- Rental vehicle
- Emotional or psychological trauma
- Loss of consortium
A unique rule that many states, including Missouri, follow is the pure comparative fault rule. Anyone who sustains an injury in a car crash that shares some of the blame can’t collect the maximum settlement available in a liability insurance claim from the other driver.
Let’s say the other person involved in the collision was texting while driving. A jury might decide that their actions were 80% responsible for your injury. However, they determine you hold 20% fault because you failed to yield the right of way. If there’s a $100,000 settlement available, the most you could receive is $80,000 ($100,000 minus the 20% shared blame).
The Negligent Driver Doesn’t Have Auto Insurance? There are Other Options
Even though it’s illegal to operate a car without liability insurance, many do it anyway. If you get injured in a texting while driving accident and discover the other person doesn’t carry insurance, you might think you can’t seek compensation. But that’s not true.
It’s possible to file a claim with your insurance carrier. UM insurance (uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage) provides reimbursement for medical costs in the event the other motorist lacks car insurance, or their liability coverage isn’t enough to cover your expenses.
Missouri law requires drivers to purchase UM with a minimum limit of $25,000 for bodily injury and $10,000 for property damage. Some people choose to purchase higher limits, while others accept basic coverage. Your insurance policy allows compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and vehicle repairs.
In addition to your UM insurance, you could also use your Medical Payments coverage. The law doesn’t require UM coverage on everyone’s policy, but it’s option. It works like health insurance and pays for your treatment upfront up to the limit you chose. The pure comparative fault rule doesn’t apply when seeking Medpay benefits. You can receive up to your maximum coverage available, even if you share some of the blame for the accident.
Insurance Claim vs. Lawsuit
No set rule dictates whether you should file an insurance claim or lawsuit. The choice is entirely up to you. Most people injured by someone who texted while driving start with an insurance claim. In many cases, the insurance company will settle for an acceptable amount, especially if there’s sufficient evidence that the other driver caused the accident.
In other situations, a lawsuit is necessary. Filing a lawsuit usually happens if the insurance company denies the claim, doesn’t offer a high enough settlement, or the driver’s behavior was so reckless that he or she should suffer the consequences.
Is it Expensive to Hire a Lawyer?
OnderLaw, LLC works on a contingency fee basis. We don’t charge any upfront fees or costs when we take on your case. We get paid when you get paid. If we’re unable to recover a settlement for you, you won’t owe us anything.
We also offer free consultations. If you want to seek legal advice at no risk, we’ll meet with you to discuss your texting while driving accident and determine if we can represent you.
Experienced Attorneys You Can Depend on
We’ve received recognition from various legal organizations for the cases we’ve taken on and verdicts we’ve reached. We received the highest AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell, a peer-rated review system where lawyers review other lawyers’ accomplishments and legal skills.
We also contribute to multiple charities and organizations, such as Parents for Window Blind Safety, St. Louis Ovarian Cancer Awareness, Toys for Tots, and Lupus Foundation of America. It’s important that we give back to our community and help those less fortunate.