As an experienced injury lawyer based in Atlanta, I know first-hand that Georgia car accident lawyers have been concerned with the link between cellphone usage/texting and car accident. In fact, I wrote about this fast developing problem back in a July 2009 blog.
Now, Gwinnett County officials are exploring further charges against an Atlanta-area resident who was involved in a car accident on Sugarloaf Parkway which killed a Gwinnett county pedestrian. After an exhaustive investigation, the woman has been charged with vehicular manslaughter and investigators believe there may be a link between texting and the wreck.
All Georgia drivers are charged with driving safely. This is a basic Rule of the Road. Georgia’s Traffic Laws (Georgia Code) can be found under Title 40 – Motor Vehicles and Traffic; Chapter 6 (Uniform Rules of the Road). If someone is distracted while they are driving their car, and this results in an accident, the at-fault driver is responsible for all of the harm they have caused because they were legally “negligent” and this negligence caused the accident. The fairly new legal theory that is creeping up now, is: if a driver is on their cell phone (talking or texting) and causes an accident, can punitive damages be assessed against them.
While this question may be new to some, we have been dealing with it for years and the short answer is: Yes. A Georgia driver who causes a wreck because they were on their cell phone is subject to a claim for punitive damages if the victim’s attorney uses the facts and the law to show that the unlawful behavior showed a “conscious disregard” or a “conscious indifference” to the welfare of others. In today’s society, this law firm has little doubt that this can be effectively proven. In fact, there really is nothing special about driving and texting, except that it is so prevalent these days. The “wrong” in this instance is that the texting driver is not paying attention to the road. If they cause an accident, they are liable for all of the damages that flow from the accident. It used to be that someone was inadvertently distracted and this caused an accident because they were not careful and they allowed their attention to the road to be diverted. While this is bad enough, the difference with texting is that these people are making a conscious decision to drive without paying attention. I have seen this on side road, 2 lane road and at 70 MPH on the interstate. It is wrong, and not only does it constitute negligence, it may very well warrant the aware of punitive damages if a case like this gets tried to a jury.
As experienced injury lawyers, we at Robert J. Fleming has had great successes helping seriously injured clients value their automobile accident cases. If you or a family member has been seriously injured and by a driver who was talking on a cell phone or texting and would like help in valuing your case, please contact us for a confidential and thorough case evaluation. You can contact Mr. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 for a free case evaluation.