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The driver who hit me was texting. Am I eligible for punitive damages?

Texting and driving is becoming a more prevalent problem and unfortunately a regular occurrence on the road. This careless action can easily lead to serious car accidents resulting in severe injuries or even fatalities.

As a result, you may be seeking damages that go above what you would normally receive in a personal injury claim.

You may be eligible to collect punitive damages.

We posed this question to attorney Alaina Sullivan, and this is how she explained the matter:

What Are Punitive Damages?

Punitive damages are monetary awards that go beyond what is necessary to compensate the victim of a car accident for his or her loss and are intended to punish the at-fault driver.

These types of awards are not for property damages or medical bills but go more to the level of pain and suffering and emotional distress.

If a behavior is considered so egregious or reckless that it is considered more than just mere negligence, the victim may be awarded punitive damages.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving can mean many things. It can mean playing with the radio and taking your eyes off the road long enough to hit another vehicle. It can mean attending to a crying child in the backseat while not paying attention to moving traffic.

A Lawyer Explains A Personal Injury claim where the other driver was texting

Distracted driving includes three different levels. Your distraction can be visual, meaning the driver takes his or her eyes off the road. The distraction can also be manual, meaning the driver’s hands were physically removed from the wheel.

More importantly, the distraction can be cognitive in nature. Drunk driving is cognitive but can also be visual and manual.

Texting and driving is distracted driving. Texting takes your hands off of the wheel and your eyes off of the road.

Even more importantly, texting can cause the driver to have a slower reaction time when it comes to obstacles on the road.

Texting and Breaking the Law

According to the National Safety Council, in 2014 cell phone use while driving led to over 1 and 4 car accidents in the United States. Many states have already passed laws making texting while driving a crime.

In terms of seeking punitive damages, some courts may see that the driver’s willful violation of a law, putting others’ lives at risk on the road, as an egregious act that would require punishment more than just what compensatory damages would require.

That extra element could assist you in seeking damages that punish the driver for the wrongdoing committed.

Reckless Behavior

Just like any form of distracted driving, texting and driving is seen as reckless. Add the fact that it may be illegal in your state, you have a behavior that is extremely risky and likely to cause serious if not deadly injury.

It is because of this level of recklessness that courts award damages that go above and beyond what would be given in a normal accident. These awards would include punitive damages.

Contact an Attorney Today

If you were the victim of distracted driving, you may be wondering how to best pursue compensation for your injuries, damage to your car, and the physical and emotional pain that came with your accident.

The claims process may be complex, and having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side can help ensure that you get the best compensation for your case.

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