Texting While Driving Causes Auto Accident and Prompts Lawsuit

Date: December 24, 2009

Paul was approaching the light at Hamlin corners having finished work in Scranton. At the same time, Karen was approaching the same intersection coming back from Stroudsburg. Both parties entered the intersection with Paul running into the side of Karen\’s vehicle. When the State Police arrived to investigate, both drivers were insistent that they had the green light.

Eventually, a lawsuit ensued with both drivers suing the other alleging that each one had the right-of-way. Karen insisted that when she got a glimpse of Paul going into the intersection, he appeared to be on his cell phone. Paul denied the same stating that he was giving full attention to the road and, in fact, had a green light.

Once the litigation started, Karen\’s attorney did subpoena the cell phone records from Paul\’s provider. They actually showed that Paul would have been on the phone at the very time that the accident happened. In fact, he apparently was texting somebody. Paul\’s attorney attempted to keep this evidence out.

Issue: Will Paul\’s attorney be successful in keeping this evidence out?

Answer: No. The evidence will be admissible for two reasons. Paul\’s credibility will be cast in doubt since he stated he was not on the phone or operating his phone at the time of the accident when the records showed just the opposite. Additionally, the jury will be able to infer that Paul in fact was not watching the road at the time of the accident because he was texting on his blackberry and, therefore, he was distracted from the conditions that presented themselves. In all likelihood, Karen will win her lawsuit when all the facts come to light.

Disclaimer: The above article is for instructive purposes only and each case is fact sensitive. Consultation with an attorney should be obtained instead of reliance upon the legal issues discussed in this column.

Tom Cummings
Thomas P. Cummings has been a Partner with Dougherty Leventhal & Price, LLP since 1996 and has been with the firm since 1991. He focuses his practice on workers’ compensation, Social Security Disability and personal injury cases.