Distracted driving is widely considered to be even more dangerous than driving while intoxicated. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that distracted driving causes a million accidents and thousands of deaths each year in the United States. Indeed, it has been estimated that texting while driving increases your odds of an accident by 2,200 percent. Distracted driving includes but is not limited to the use of electronic devices such as cell phones – a hurried commuter who shaves while driving, for example, can be sued under Illinois negligence law if an accident results, according to distracted driving lawyers Holman & Stefanowicz.
Illinois Distracted Driving Statutes
Due to the fact that hand-held electronic devices have proliferated only in recent years, Illinois distracted driving law has rapidly evolved as the legislature struggles to keep ahead of the problem. Some of the most important features of Illinois distracted driving law include:
- Illinois drivers cannot legally use cell phones while on the road unless they have hands-free technology such as headsets or bluetooth.
- Illinois drivers may not text while driving under any circumstances.
- Bus drivers, commercial drivers and “novice drivers” (drivers under 19 years old) cannot use cell phones while driving even with hands-free technology.
- All cell phone use is prohibited in highway construction zones.
- Illinois distracted driving law carves out several exceptions to the foregoing prohibitions – using a cell phone to report an emergency situation, for example, or using a cell phone while stopped in traffic in neutral or park.
If a driver break one of these laws and thereby causes an accident, a claim for damages by a victim of the accident will be strong.
Negligence and Distracted Driving
It is possible for a victim of a distracted driving accident to win damages even if the defendant did not break any of Illinois’ distracted driving laws. The defendant, for example, may have been talking on a hands-free cell phone immediately prior to the accident. If the victim can prove that the defendant was thereby distracted, and that this distraction caused the accident, the victim can still win the lawsuit by showing that the defendant’s use of a cell phone was negligent under the circumstances of that particular accident.
Under Illinois comparative negligence law, if the defendant can prove that the accident was partly your fault, your damages can be reduced by your percentage of fault (i.e. if your damages were $100,000 and you were 25 percent at fault for the accident, you would receive only $75,000). If you were at least 50 percent at fault for the accident, you may receive nothing and you might even end up having to pay the defendant. The comparative negligence standard applies to an out-of-court settlement as well, because the defendant (or his insurance company) is likely to agree to pay no more than he thinks you could win in court
Illinois car accident law is complex, and the application of the law varies from case to case so it is always wise to consult with an experienced attorney.