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California driving rule could affect personal injury cases

A new California law emphasizes the importance of safe driving by banning vehicle operators from holding their phones while driving. Officials say this should have a positive impact on personal injury rates by forcing drivers to focus more on the road. Drivers who are caught holding their phones in their hand while driving face potential fines of $20 for the first offense and $50 for subsequent violations.

This means that most California residents will have to invest in a mounted setup for displaying their phone if they want to use GPS or music features while driving. Experts say that one of the best locations for your phone would be to the left of the driver, mounted on the dash. This prevents potential obstruction by mounting the phone beneath the rearview mirror. Retailers say that seeking extra advice about your equipment can make the difference in your ability to safely operate your vehicle. The new law took effect on Jan. 1.

Why would this criminal statute matter in a personal injury case? Negligent or distracted drivers are often responsible for causing catastrophic injuries in a car crash or truck accident. These drivers may be distracted from the road by the use of a cell phone, particularly if they have one hand off the wheel so they can navigate or change their music station.

These negligent drivers should be held accountable for their poor decision-making, and criminal statutes such as this one can support civil cases related to distracted driving. Victims who suffer personal injury deserve to be adequately compensated for their injury claim. Civil compensation for car accidents can be related to medical costs, wrongful death, emotional distress, and a variety of other factors.

Source: ABC 10, "The low down on California's newest cell phone law," John Bartell, Dec. 27, 2016

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