We have all been told to never text and drive, and it is with good reason. Texting is one of the most dangerous types of driver distractions. According to the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), an estimated 80% of collisions involved some form of distraction. In fact, 10% of fatal crashes are due to distracted driving. Cell phone use is most likely to occur between drivers ages 15 to 29 years of age, and females are more likely than males to be distracted.
It is estimated that over 480,000 drivers use cell phones when driving, which creates a huge potential for disastrous accidents for anyone that is on the road. In a world where communicating with another person, even when driving, is just a click away, we are more likely than ever to be driving while distracted, making it that much more important to put the phones away when driving.
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Ontario Law and Texting
In Ontario, it is against the law to use your cell phone if you are behind the wheel. Under the Distracted Driving Law, any type of handheld device use is illegal, and it does not matter what you are doing. Even simply holding your phone while driving is against the law.
The only electronic devices you are allowed to use when driving are GPS units and Bluetooth devices. However, you still cannot handle these items when you drive. If you need to make an adjustment, you need to have a passenger handle the task for you or pull off to the side of the road and park.
Texting when stopped at a stoplight is also against the law. Your car needs to be lawfully parked or turned off in order to be allowed to use your cell phone. Failure to abide by these laws can result in monetary fines, criminal charges, and even sentencing.
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Fines for Texting and Driving
If you choose to risk it and break the laws, here is a look at the punishment you could be facing if you get caught. Drivers who are caught texting and driving, but do not cause injuries to another person can face fines up to $1,000 and have three demerit points added. If you are a novice driver with your G1 or G2 you will have the same fine. However, rather than getting demerit points, your license will be suspended, and your process will be cancelled. This means you will have to start again from the beginning.
If you endangered or hurt another person, not only will you face monetary fines up to $2,000, but you will be charged with careless driving, could face jail time up to six months, get at least six demerit points, and have your license suspended for up to two years. In some situations, you may also be charged with dangerous driving if you killed someone or caused them serious injuries. Jail time for seriously injuring a person can be as much as 10 years in jail and killing someone could result in up to 14 years in jail.
Who Pays for Texting and Driving Injuries?
A driver who is texting and causes injuries is legally responsible for the damages that they caused. People have a duty to take reasonable care to not harm others when they are behind the wheel. Breaching that duty by texting and driving is considered negligence, and when negligence results in injuries, the driver who was negligent is responsible for their actions.
Insurance companies will typically pay for two types of claims – property damage claims and bodily injury claims.
- Property Damages – These damages pay for repairs to vehicles as well as the cost of a rental vehicle while the damaged vehicle is in the shop getting repairs. This damage coverage also typically pays for any personal items that were lost in the accident such as clothing or glasses.
- Personal Injury Damages – There are two types of claims. First-party insurance provides access to accident benefits coverage, no matter who is at fault, to certain types of specific benefits eg. medical treatment, income replacement, attendant care etc. Third-party claims relate to claims made for damages for pain and suffering, past and future medical and dental expenses, out-of-pocket expenses, and lost wages both past and future.
While insurance coverage is required under the law, what happens if the negligent driver was a teenager or unemployed person who does not have the required insurance coverage? You may still have legal options and an experienced Thunder Bay car accident lawyer can help advise you of those options.
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Additional Compensation Sources
Anyone can file a car insurance claim, but it can be more difficult to track down financial sources that will cover wrongful death or catastrophic injuries. To nail down that type of compensation, you may need a lawyer on your side. Oddly enough, statistics show that the higher the income bracket of the driver, the more likely they are to text and drive.
If a teenager or college student is a negligent driver, they may have a parent that has them on their insurance policy or on an umbrella policy. An umbrella policy is designed to pay additional compensation for large claims that exceed the policy owner’s auto policy limits. As a last resort, your lawyer will look for coverage under an underinsured motorist coverage.
Contact an Experienced Thunder Bay Texting and Driving Lawyer
The experienced lawyers at Preszler Law Firm will work to search for ways to get you the compensation you are entitled to if you or your loved one was injured in a texting and driving accident. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.