If anyone needs any more convincing on the dangers of texting while driving, just consider the case of Cacilia Carter.
Carter is a 26-year-old Florida woman who just won a $4.3 million lawsuit because of severe injuries she suffered in a car accident that involved texting and driving.
As the Daytona Beach News Journal reported last month, Carter was comatose for three weeks following the 2010 crash, suffered brain damage that continues to affect her speech, and has become permanently disabled, requiring a wheelchair to get around.
Damages Exceed Florida’s No Fault Law
Although Florida has a No-Fault Auto Insurance Law that’s designed to resolve claims of up to $10,000 out of court, Carter was able to take her case to trial because of the extent and severity of her injuries.
Citing reports from the Florida Highway Patrol, the News Journal says Carter was a passenger in a car driven by her then-boyfriend, Joseph O’Guin, who was texting and driving while at the wheel. O’Guin ran a stop sign, and the car was then struck by a tractor trailer. Neither Carter nor her boyfriend were wearing their seatbelts.
The accident happened before Florida instituted its ban on texting while driving. Nevertheless, Carter sued O’Guin, arguing that his negligence caused the crash. A judge agreed and decided to award Carter $4.3 million.
Carter’s attorney told the News Journal it’s unlikely she’ll actually receive any of that money. O’Guin was uninsured at the time. And who has $4 million just sitting in their bank account?
But the high damage award, based on the nature of Carter’s injuries, should get the attention of anyone who doubts the risks involved in texting while behind the wheel.
Texting While Driving More Dangerous Than DUI
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, which has launched a national campaign to combat distracted driving, texting takes your eyes off the road for just over four and a half seconds. “At 55 mph,” the campaign’s website says, “that’s like driving an entire football field blindfolded.”
One study conducted for NHTSA found that text messaging had the highest level of “distraction potential” than other activities motorists often undertake while driving, such as tuning the radio or dialing a phone number.
What’s worse, texting appears to be even more hazardous than drunk driving. Using the results of an experiment conducted by Car and Driver magazine, some statisticians have estimated that texting while driving is as much as six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated.
What Should I Do If I Am Injured?
In the unfortunate event that you become the victim of someone else’s negligence, qualified legal assistance is necessary to ensure that you receive the full value of your claim. That’s true whether your case involves negotiating a settlement with the insurance company or going to court and having a judge or jury decide the matter.
We will make sure you understand the process and help you get the care and compensation you need to recover from the crash. From our office in Brandon, we help clients in Tampa, New Tampa, Plant City and throughout east Hillsborough County and Florida. Contact Reed & Reed for a free consultation.