Two years ago, the Maryland legislature passed a law making it a primary offense to talk on a cell phone while driving, and texting while driving has been against the law in Maryland for several years prior to the passage of that law. Since the passage of these laws, police have handed out thousands and thousands of these distracted-driving tickets to motorists in violation of the new law. However, according to a recent news report by a local NBC affiliate, drivers are not getting the message.
One Trooper interviewed in the article told reporters that a surprising amount of people are still using their hand-held phones while driving. He explained, “If they are not on it talking or texting, they’re using it for GPS, … They just haven’t got caught yet, and if they did, they just didn’t learn their lesson.”
Driving While Talking or Texting
The practice of driving while using a hand-held device is one of the most common forms of distracted driving. In fact, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration explains that drivers who text or talk on a hand-held device while driving are four times more likely to get into an accident resulting in serious injury to themselves or others. A spokesperson for the MVA told reporters that there are about 200 fatal accidents each year caused by distracted driving, many of which occurred while using hand-held devices.
The dangers of using hand-held devices have led 14 states and the District of Columbia to ban the use of hand-held devices altogether when driving. Many other states limit the use of hand-held devices for new drivers, commercial drivers, and school-bus drivers.
Despite the dangers of using these devices while driving—and the financial incentive to refrain from doing so—in Maryland alone, there were over 34,000 tickets issued to motorists in 2014 for using their hand-held devices while operating a vehicle.
Liability Under the Hand-Held Device Ban
The fact that the Maryland Legislature saw fit to pass a law making it illegal to talk or text on a hand-held device while driving means that these drivers can more easily be held liable for the injuries they caused. The specific legal doctrine is called “negligence per se,” and it allows a plaintiff to recover more easily when the defendant was engaged in illegal behavior at the time of the accident.
In order for the legal doctrine to apply, the plaintiff must show that the defendant was engaged in an activity that was prohibited by law, and that the kind of harm caused in the accident is the type that the law was trying to prevent. In the case of distracted-driving tickets, it is clear that the law is trying to prevent auto accidents, so plaintiffs injured in these kinds of accidents will likely have an easier time recovering for their injuries.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been involved in a Maryland car accident, and you believe that the accident was due to another party’s distracted driving, you may be entitled to monetary damages. Keep in mind that these types of lawsuits typically involve at least one insurance company whose job it is to get rid of the case as cheaply as possible. Therefore, you should be sure to seek dedicated legal counsel of your own to ensure that you are treated fairly throughout the process. To learn more, and to speak with an attorney about your rights, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney.
More Blog Posts:
Pennsylvania Police Search for Maryland Man Allegedly Involved in DUI Hit-and-Run Accident, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published May 26, 2015.
Mailman in Critical Condition after Single-Vehicle Accident in Prince George’s County, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published April 23, 2015.