Distracted Driving Accident Awards Up as Defendants Must Answer Cell Phone Questions

questions, Hartford personal injury attorneyWhen a driver causes an accident because he or she was talking or texting on his or her cell phone, he or she is not likely to admit the truth to the police officer on the scene. Instead, it is often left to investigators and others working on behalf of the injured victim to prove that the at-fault driver was distracted at the time of the crash. Recent procedural changes in Connecticut, however, have made it easier for claimants to address distracted driving concerns following an accident.

New Interrogatory Questions

Beginning on January 1, 2017, the Judicial Branch of the State of Connecticut amended the standard questionnaire—known as interrogatories—that injured victims send to defendants (and vice versa) during the discovery phase of car accident cases. For the first time, both parties in such a case must answer under oath prior to trial whether they “were using a cell phone for any activity including, but not limited to, calling, texting, e-mailing, posting, tweeting, or visiting sites on the Internet for any purpose, at or immediately prior to the time of the incident.”

While a person may hesitate to tell a responding police officer that he or she was texting, lying under oath an entirely different matter. Based on each party’s answers, it may be necessary—and much easier than before—to request cell phone records to substantiate or disprove the sworn statements. There are still challenges, of course, but the new questions open the door to further investigation when necessary.

Uptick in Awards

Over the last several years, fatalities and serious injuries attributed to distracted driving crashes have gone up throughout the state of Connecticut. Police and personal injury lawyers say they are seeing more cases in which there are no signs that a driver tried to stop—a common indication that he or she was texting at the time.

As a result, settlements and verdicts for those who have been hurt are also increasing. According to the Connecticut Post, two of the state’s largest auto accident awards in the last decade—both well over $1 million—were granted in cell-phone related cases. One was a settlement, and the other was a jury verdict, which suggests that the courts are also taking a harsh stance against distracted driving. Officials and members of the legal community believe that such awards will continue to go up with the new interrogatories now being used.

Injured By a Distracted Driver?

If you or loved one has been injured in an accident caused by a driver who was texting or talking on the phone at the time of the crash, you need an advocate who will fight to protect your rights. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney in Connecticut for help. Call [[phone1]] for a free consultation at Woolf Law Firm, LLC today.

 

Sources:

http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Court-awards-rising-in-distracted-driving-suits-12178007.php

https://www.jud.ct.gov/Publications/PracticeBook/PB.pdf

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