In light of the ban on texting while driving within the state of Pennsylvania, many are wondering about the future legality of drivers using handheld GPS devices on their cell phones. Although both cellular applications have useful purposes, they certainly can be distracting for drivers who need keep their eyes on the road.
Even though talking while driving is not banned under the new law, many citizens and lawmakers hope to see cell phone related car accident numbers decline. However, there has been a recent Pennsylvania case in the news concerning car accidents and cell phone use, and the outcome could very well set a precedent in the near future.
Cell Phone GPS Potentially Causes Car Accident
Questions about the potential legal repercussion of causing a car accident while using cell phone applications beyond talking have flourished since the recent ruling of Judge Terrence R. Nealon in the case of Rockwell v. Knott in Lackawanna County. In this particular case, the defending party was deemed not liable for punitive damages, primarily because the plaintiff could not definitively prove that the defendant was looking solely at the GPS when the accident occurred.
Thus, there would need to be eyewitness testimony definitively proving that the GPS function was distracting the driver from the road in order to make a claim for punitive damages. Unless surveillance video or a reliable witness like a police officer catches the defendant, going after such damages can be complex. However, the defendant can be held liable for damage due to negligent acts that occur while driving including talking, texting, and using handheld GPS systems.
What are Your Rights in Cell Phone Related Accidents?
In this particular case, punitive damages cannot be sought; however, the case will proceed against the defendant for negligence, which can help the plaintiff recover financial compensation for several types of damages including:
Pain & Suffering
Depending on the type of injuries you have suffered in a car accident due to a driver's possible negligence from being distracted by their cell phone, you need to know your rights. Even though a driver will may not receive a ticket for talking on their cell phone while driving under current law, it doesn't mean that they cannot be held for certain legal liabilities that result from to their negligent behavior while driving and using the device.
Only an experienced Pennsylvania car accident attorney will know how to best proceed with your case and decide what types of compensation you may be entitled to. If you have suffered harm in a car accident with a distracted driver suspected of using their cell phone behind the wheel, call a qualified car accident attorney to represent your rights and help you collect the compensation you deserve.