This December, many of you opened your Christmas gifts and received one of the hottest items of the season, a smartwatch! Although they have been on the market for the past few years, many smartwatches can now function independently from your cell phone and, in essence, act as a mini cellular device. There are some benefits to using a smartwatch as opposed to a smartphone, especially because their GPS vibration settings can help you pay more attention to the road than your maps. However, smartwatches can be just as distracting to drivers as a smartphone, and if you were injured in an accident because a driver was paying more attention to their device than the road, you have a right to seek compensation.
Distracted Driving Statistics
According to the Center for Disease Control’s Injury Center, distracted driving causes nearly one in five motor vehicle crashes in the United States. Generally, experts claim that there are three categories of distracted driving that contribute to most motor vehicle accidents:
- Visual: When a driver’s eyes are not on the road at the time or immediately before the accident;
- Manual: When a driver’s hands or feet lose contact with the steering wheel or pedals, and
- Cognitive: When you are not focused on driving, i.e., daydreaming.
The reason why texting while driving with a traditional smartphone is extremely dangerous and has been the focus of legislators is because it takes your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind off of driving all at the same time. This means you are visually, manually, and cognitively distracted, while many accidents are caused by only one type of distraction. When it comes to using a smartwatch, this is just as true. Although the watch is closer to the wheel, you still have to use one hand to text from and control it. Further, many drivers still need to look at the watch and think about what they are texting. There is little difference between distractions caused by a smartwatch and those caused by a smartphone.
Unsurprisingly, drivers under the age of 20 have the highest rate of distraction-related fatal car crashes, the majority of which are attributed to texting and use of electronic devices. It was further reported that, when compared to European drivers, Americans had a higher rate of distracted driving incidents overall because they were more likely to be emailing, texting, or talking on a cell phone while driving. There is little indication that these statistics are any less true now that smartwatches are becoming increasingly popular.
Florida Texting while Driving Laws
The Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law was designed to do the following:
- Improve roadway safety;
- Prevent crashes related to text messaging;
- Reduce injuries, death, and property damage; and
- Reduce healthcare costs.
It would seem that Florida’s texting while driving law would cover the use of smartwatches because they can be used in a handheld manner even if they are not being used in such a manner at the time of the accident. If the distracted driver is entering letters or numbers into the “device” or reading or sending messages, then he or she is guilty of texting while driving. If you are injured in an accident involving a driver who may have been using her smartwatch, you may inform the police and the office may be able to issue the driver a citation if there is evidence that use of the electronic device was a contributing cause of the accident. With that citation, you will have additional evidence to present to the insurance company regarding the other driver’s negligence.
Although criminal citations are not per se means of proving negligence in a related civil case, i.e., a court case brought by private citations for money damages after an accident, the court will often consider a citation to be evidence of the other driver’s negligence, and the liable driver must then prove otherwise. Even without a citation, because texting while driving, including on a smartwatch, is illegal in Florida, if you are able to prove that the driver violated the law and that law caused your injuries, then you may be able to get judgment in your favor without having to prove that the other driver owed a special duty to you.
Recovering Compensation After a Distracted Driving Accident
If based on the facts of the accident it seems clear that the driver was using an electronic device, such as a smartwatch, your attorney may be able to request their phone and cloud records to see if the time certain messages were sent or calls were made matches up with the time of your accident. They may also be able to use the gadget’s GPS in order to place the defendant at the scene of the accident. For this reason, it is important to make note of the exact time and place where the accident took place. You may be able to recover compensation for the following if you were injured by a distracted driver:
- Medical bills;
- Lost wages;
- Pharmaceuticals and specialized medical equipment;
- Household assistance;
- Lost earning capacity; and
- Loss of spousal or parent companionship and support.
Distracted driving is the type of accident that is generally preventable. Accordingly, if you’ve been injured in an accident and you believe distracted driving played a role, do not hesitate to contact a Florida personal injury and car accident attorney.
Contact a Clearwater Personal Injury and Car Accident Attorney Today
If you were injured by a distracted driver, whether you were a pedestrian or in another vehicle, the accident may have been the result of texting or using an electronic device while driving. With the plethora of mobile devices available today, there is no limit to what young drivers are using. The Dolman Law Group has your premier personal injury lawyers in the greater Tampa Bay area, and they have experience fighting for your right to compensation after a Florida car accident. Contact them today online or at (727) 451-6900 for a free, no-risk consultation about your car accident.