Determining Liability in a Clarksburg Texting While Driving Truck Accident Case
On-the-road truck drivers are far away from their company’s base of operation and away from their families as well, so they often use cell phones to communicate. Although cell phones are a large part of the way truck drivers talk to their employers, shippers, brokers, and the party receiving the cargo, they must adhere to the traffic safety laws just as other motorists do.
West Virginia law prohibits using a cell phone while driving unless it can be done hands-free. This law bans texting, talking on the phone, and navigating the internet or engaging on social media while operating a motor vehicle. Because texting while driving is against the law in Clarksburg, this behavior by either plaintiff or defendant can influence the determination of liability in a truck accident case.
Plaintiff Use of a Cell Phone During an Accident
West Virginia and Clarksburg adhere to a legal principle known as comparative negligence, where the fault may be attributed to both drivers if both caused the incident. The percentage of fault is awarded to assess the compensation entitled to the injury claim accurately. However, if the plaintiff claiming damages is found to be partially responsible, damages may be reduced by a corresponding percentage.
For instance, if the other driver is found to be 70 percent responsible for a wreck, but the plaintiff is found to be 30 percent responsible, the plaintiff’s damages could be reduced by 30 percent to recognize their contribution to the cause of the collision. If the plaintiff’s contribution or comparative negligence is more than 50 percent, they may not be able to recover any damages at all.
Defendant Use of a Cell Phone During an Accident
It is a common occurrence that the use of a cell phone while driving causes an accident by a distracted driver. Studies are indicating that distracted driving is more frequent and dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol.
If the defendant was using a cell phone at the time of the truck accident, the principle known as negligence per se might apply. Meaning that if a lawyer can prove the defendant has violated a safety statute and that violation led to injury, the plaintiff only must show what the damages are to receive their entitled compensation. They do not have to prove the defendant was at fault for the wreck.
A defendant’s proven negligence could also give rise to what is known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded to the plaintiff to punish the defendant and deter similar conduct from others in the future. A defendant that was using their cell phone in a manner that is in violation of the law in Clarksburg could be subject to a claim for punitive damages.
Multiple Drivers Using a Cell Phone at the Time of an Accident
If the injured party and the at-fault driver were both discovered to be using their cell phones at the time of the accident, there would have to be an assessment of whether the injured party’s use of the cell phone was a contributing factor to the truck accident. If it was not a contributing factor, the fact that the injured party was using the cell phone would have no impact on their claim to compensation.
For instance, if a driver using their cell phone at a stoplight was hit by a driver from behind also using their cell phone, the fact that the first driver was using their cell phone is of no consequence, because it had nothing to do with causing the wreck.
Evidence Needed in a Truck Accident Claim Involving a Cell Phone
The records from the phone company will be invaluable in assessing who was at fault in a truck accident caused by cell phone use. Records will not be turned over by the phone companies without a subpoena, but the information contained in them could include a timestamp of calls made or received. There could also be information about when texts were sent and received.
If someone was browsing the internet or using social media platforms, the records might show the time and length of data usage. That is why when truck accidents occur, it is crucial to get an attorney involved as soon as possible to be sure that the necessary information is obtained as evidence.
A Clarksburg Attorney Could Help Determine Liability in Your Texting While Driving Truck Accident Case
A lawyer could determine to what extent the use of a cell phone was a cause of the wreck by asking that the truck driver and trucking company preserve that information. Ensuring that none of this evidence is deleted or destroyed, intentionally or mistakenly, can be important when determining liability after a Clarksburg texting while driving truck accident.
If you have been involved in an accident where one or more of the drivers were using a cell phone, calling a meticulous truck accident attorney today could help you recover the compensation you deserve.