According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted
driving caused 3,477 in 2015 alone. Much of those lives were lost because
of mobile phone distraction; texting, emailing, tweeting, or just messing
with the phone behind the wheel of a car. To help prevent these deaths,
many states have enacted criminal laws to punish and deter such behavior.
For example, Kansas statute 8-15,111 states, “[N]o person shall operate
a motor vehicle on a public road or highway while using a wireless communications
device to write, send or read a written communication.” Breaking
this law results in a traffic citation. Surprisingly, Missouri has not
Traffic citations are criminal matters. So, how does breaking a texting-while-driving
law affect a car crash case, which is a civil matter? A criminal violation
or a violation of any statute that results in injury can be the basis
of a negligence per se cause of action. This allows an injury claim to
be made when a law is broken that is designed to prevent the injury sustained
and protect the person injured.
For texting-while-driving law violations that result in a wreck, the person
who was injured can make a personal injury claim against the texter for
breaking that law. These cases can be stronger than more general rules-of-the-road
violations because these laws are “written in stone” rather
than common sense rules. Breaking these laws is generally more shocking
and serious and juries are more apt to enforce them.
Keep this in mind if you’ve been in the victim of a car crash because
it can greatly help your case.