Louisiana has the unfortunate distinction of being the worst state in the country when it comes to distracted driving – particularly drivers using a mobile device to text or chat while operating a vehicle. Drivers in New Orleans use their phones more while driving than vehicle operators in any other U.S. city.
These distractions have significant consequences: people who use their phone the most while driving is six times more likely to be involved in a crash than the least distracted drivers. According to Louisiana State University’s Highway Safety Research Group, there were 317,391 drivers involved in crashes related to distraction in 2017 in Louisiana. Over 2400 of those were directly attributed to cell phone distractions and another 700 related to other electronic devices.
If you’ve been involved in an auto accident where the other driver was distracted, you deserve to be compensated. The experienced personal injury attorneys at the Patrick Yancey Law Firm have successfully handled these kinds of cases and can help you recover what you deserve.
Louisiana Distracted Driving Laws
The state of Louisiana takes distracted driving very seriously. It has enacted numerous laws to attempt to discourage distracted driving and reduce the number of injuries and fatalities:
- All drivers are prohibited from text messaging or using social media while driving.
- Drivers under 18 years old may not use any kind of wireless devices – including cell phones (hand-held or hands-free), text-messaging units, and computers – while operating a motor vehicle.
- Drivers in school zones during posted restricted hours may not use any kind of wireless devices – including cell phones, text-messaging units, and computers – while operating a motor vehicle.
- Drivers with learner’s permits and intermediate licenses are prohibited from using cell phones (hand-held or hands-free) while driving.
Gov. John Bel Edwards signed Senate Bill 91 into law in June 2016. This law increased the fines for violating the ban on texting and social media to $500 for first-time offenders. Repeat offenders are subject to a fine of $1,000 per offense and a 60-day license suspension. If the person is involved in a crash at the time of the violation, the fine doubles.
Fault, Liability, and Recovery
If you’ve been injured in a crash caused by a distracted driver, you must first prove who was at fault and to what extent. Determining what led to any crash requires a careful evaluation and assessment of evidence. This can include reviewing
- Police reports
- Photos of the accident scene and vehicles
- Witness statements
- Mobile phone records
- Social media accounts
- Information on road conditions and weather
- Accident reconstructions or other expert analysis
- Data from traffic signals, in-vehicle systems, or other sources
The state of Louisiana has a “fault-based system.” This means that the judge or jury will attempt to identify who was legally at fault in the event of a car crash and hold that driver (or his insurance company) accountable for injuries or property damage. You cannot recover compensation for your injuries or other damages unless you can prove that another party was liable for the crash.
The statute prohibiting texting while driving requires that a law enforcement officer investigating the crash indicate on the written accident form that a driver was using a wireless telecommunications device at the time of the crash. This increases the penalties the driver is subjected to by the state and can be important evidence of fault.
Even if you are the victim of an accident, you can be held partially liable if you were engaging in reckless or distracted driving or otherwise disobeying traffic laws. This is called “comparative negligence” (Louisiana Civil Code 2323). Although it doesn’t prevent you from recovering compensation for your injuries, it will reduce the amount of your compensation. If a court determines you were 20 percent at fault for the accident, for example, it would reduce the amount of your award by 20 percent.
Hire an Experienced Louisiana Car Accident Lawyer
It’s vital for anyone involved in a vehicle crash to retain experienced legal counsel, regardless of the severity of his or her injuries or extent of the vehicle damage.
A knowledgeable attorney will evaluate the facts of your case and advise on the best course of action to ensure you receive the most compensation possible for your injuries, vehicle damage, and other losses. This can include recovering costs for future medical care, wage loss, and other compensation for your pain and suffering.
The Patrick Yancey Law Firm understands the issues involved in auto collisions, especially those caused by distracted drivers. Our friendly, understanding advocates will help you resolve your issues in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible and recover the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.