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Negligent Security Seminar | March 2015

Florida personal injury lawyers



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    Texting While Driving: The New Frontier in Personal Injury Law

    In Florida, as in many states across the nation, texting while driving has become a significant public safety concern. This behavior endangers the driver, passengers, pedestrians, and other road users. As personal injury law continues to evolve, the legal implications of texting while driving in Florida are becoming increasingly significant.

    The Growing Problem of Texting While Driving

    Texting while driving is a form of distracted driving that has seen a worrying increase in recent years. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, distracted driving crashes resulted in 333 fatalities in Florida in 2021, marking the highest number recorded in the state in at least eight years.  In all likelihood this number is vastly understated.

    The state has implemented stringent laws to combat this issue. But motor vehicle laws often do not change behaviors.

    At Leighton Panoff Law, we have been writing, lecturing and teaching about the hazards of Driving While Distracted (DWD) for more than fifteen years.  We have published blog posts and articles addressing this enormous problem.  Drivers who engage in this conduct are far more likely to cause catastrophic harm than someone with their eyes on the roadway at all times.

    Florida Law on Texting While Driving

    Under Florida law, texting while driving is a primary offense, meaning law enforcement officers can stop drivers solely for texting while driving. The Florida Department of Transportation emphasizes the broad spectrum of activities considered distracted driving, including texting, which is one of the most dangerous due to the cognitive, visual, and manual attention it diverts from the road.

    Why is Texting While Driving So Dangerous?

    Texting while driving is considered one of the most hazardous forms of distracted driving, and for good reason. It combines three types of distractions – visual, manual, and cognitive – making it particularly dangerous.

    Here’s why:

    • Visual Distraction: Texting takes your eyes off the road. Even glancing at your phone for a few seconds can be equivalent to driving the length of a football field blindfolded at highway speeds.
    • Manual Distraction: When you text, you use your hands to type or read rather than keep them on the steering wheel. This reduces your ability to control the vehicle and respond quickly to changing road conditions or unexpected hazards.
    • Cognitive Distraction: Texting while driving takes your focus away from the task of driving. Your mind is not fully engaged in interpreting road signs, signals, or other drivers’ actions, significantly increasing the risk of accidents.
    • Delayed Reaction Times: Research, including a notable study by the Transport Research Laboratory in the UK for the RAC Foundation, has shown that texting while driving can severely delay a driver’s reaction time. In this study, drivers who were texting experienced up to a 35% slowdown in reaction time, a delay greater than the 12% experienced by drivers at the legal alcohol limit. This significant impairment highlights the danger of texting while driving, as delayed reactions can be critical in situations requiring immediate response to avoid collisions.
    • False Sense of Security: Many drivers overestimate their multitasking ability. The belief that one can safely text and drive creates a false sense of security, leading to riskier driving behaviors.
    • Increased Error Rate: Texting while driving increases the likelihood of errors such as swerving, speeding, failing to stop, or missing traffic signals, all of which can lead to serious accidents.  The concept of “inattention blindness” affects drivers who text while driving.

    Penalties and Consequences

    Beyond the physical dangers, texting while driving is illegal in many areas, including Florida. Getting caught can lead to fines, points on your license, and increased insurance rates

    However, the real impact of this behavior is often seen in the aftermath of accidents caused by distracted driving.

    Impact on Personal Injury Claims

    In personal injury law, the act of texting while driving can significantly impact liability in the event of an accident. If a driver is found to have been texting at the time of an accident, this can be seen as evidence of negligence or recklessness, potentially increasing their liability.

    Proving Liability

    Proving that a driver was texting at the time of an accident can be a crucial element in personal injury cases. Phone records, witness statements, and police reports can all contribute to establishing this fact.

    Texting while driving represents a new frontier in personal injury law in Florida. As the legal landscape continues adapting to the challenges posed by distracted driving, understanding the implications of these behaviors is crucial for legal professionals and the public. We can work towards a safer driving environment by highlighting the risks and legal consequences of texting while driving.

    If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident caused by a driver who was texting, it’s crucial to understand your legal rights and options. Navigating the complexities of personal injury law can be challenging, especially in distracted driving cases.

    At Leighton Panoff Law, we specialize in providing expert legal assistance to those affected by such incidents. Our experienced team is dedicated to ensuring that you receive the compensation and justice you deserve.  We have litigated and tried cases involving DWD and texting by drivers, including a recent $6 million recovery for the family of a man struck by a distracted driver.

    Don’t let a moment of distraction turn into a lifetime of consequences. Contact us today for a free consultation and take the first step towards protecting your rights.

    Article by:

    John Leighton

    A nationally-recognized trial lawyer who handles catastrophic injury and death cases. He manages Leighton Law, P.A. trial lawyers, with offices in Miami and Orlando, Florida. He is President of The National Crime Victim Bar Association, author of the 2-volume textbook,Litigating Premises Security Cases, and past Chairman of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America’s Motor Vehicle, Highway & Premises Liability Section. Having won some of the largest verdicts in Florida history, Mr. Leighton is listed inThe Best Lawyers in America (14 years), “Top Lawyers” in the South Florida Legal Guide (15 years), Top 100 Florida SuperLawyer™ and Florida SuperLawyers (14 years), “Orlando Legal Elite” by Orlando Style magazine, and FloridaTrend magazine “Florida Legal Elite


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