A New York father is pushing for a new law which would give police the right to examine a driver’s phone after they’ve been involved in an accident to determine if the driver was using the phone at the time.
Sparked By A Tragic Loss
Ben Lieberman, the man behind the “Textalyzer”, was inspired to build the device, which would allow police officers to plug a phone into it and analyze whether or not it was in use at the time of the accident, after his son was killed in a car crash in 2011.
Evan Lieberman was only 19-years-old at the time of the accident which occurred while he and three friends were on their way to their summer job around 8 in the morning. Evan was a passenger in the car and was riding in the backseat with his seat belt on, when the driver, another 19-year-old, drifted over the center line and into oncoming traffic, causing a head-on collision with another car. All four passengers were injured.
Evan’s injuries were the worst. He was hospitalized and doctors performed several operations to address the massive damage done to his internal organs. Despite their best efforts, he never left the hospital and passed away one month after the accident.
Anytime that there is a fatality in a car accident, the Department of Motor Vehicles performs an investigation. The driver of the car told the police that he had fallen asleep while driving and that was why he had drifted across lanes, but Mr. Lieberman just felt that there was another cause. He was shocked when he discovered that the police never bothered to look at the driver’s cell phone records. He chose to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf.
It was through this suit that the driver’s cell phone records were obtained. They showed that the browser on his phone had been activated at 7:00 a.m. and was still on at the time of the accident. At trial, the judge found that the driver’s action “constituted gross negligence in the operation of a motor vehicle” and that it showed a “reckless disregard for life”. His license was suspended for one year.
Evan’s family has created a group called Distracted Operators Risk Casualties (DORCs) which is dedicated to stopping distracted driving and saving lives. But some argue that raising awareness simply isn’t enough and that the root of the problem runs much deeper.
Are Cell Phones Addicting?
According to a survey conducted by AT&T, 61% of people admitted that they text while driving, 33% admit to checking their email, and 17% admit that they take selfies while driving. That doesn’t even begin to cover the numerous social media apps such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter which people feel compelled to check on a regular basis.
What researchers have found that is that cell phone use is an actual physical addiction – the use of the phone triggers the release of serotonin and dopamine in the brain which provides instant gratification, much like some drugs. Some therapists also believe that people use the cell phone as a way to self-medicate by distracting themselves from what’s really bothering them.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mobile phone overuse is a form of dependence syndrome. This means that when people are prevented from looking at their phones, they physically experience withdrawal symptoms.
Questioning whether or not you are addicted to your phone? The following are signs of possible cell phone addiction:
- Finding that you feel the need to use the phone more and more often to achieve the same sense of pleasure.
- Feeling signs of withdrawal if you are unable to use the phone for any reason. This may include:
- Arguing with loved ones about the amount of time you use the phone.
- Experiencing a loss of sense of time due to excessive use.
- An urge to constantly obtain the newest applications and phones.
Excessive cell phone use can also have negative physical effects such as:
- eye strain
- neck pain
- an increase in illnesses due to an increase in exposure to germs
- a physical injury caused by accidents due to distraction.
Of course, when injuries are caused by distraction, it’s not just the cellphone user who gets hurt.
What Can I Do If I Was Injured By A Distracted Driver?
Accidents can happen to anyone at anytime. While we understand that the moments after an accident are disorienting and painful, remembering these steps may help to protect you in the long run.
- Call the police. Even if all drivers involved have insurance, it is important to have the police come to the scene and create an accident report. In this report, they will describe the cause of the accident, the damage done to the vehicles involved, and any injuries sustained by the drivers and passengers.
- Take pictures. While you shouldn’t be using your phone while driving, the camera feature found on most devices can be used to document the damage and injuries sustained in the crash.
- Collect witness information. If anyone saw the accident be sure to get their name, phone number, and address.
- Go to the doctor. Even if you aren’t sure that you were injured, it is important to get an exam because the symptoms of some serious injuries don’t show up until hours or days later.
- File an insurance claim. You should notify the insurance company that you were involved in a crash. However, you should avoid making a recorded statement with an adjuster until you have spoken to a car accident attorney.
- Contact an attorney. While this may seem like a drastic step to some people, it is an excellent way to ensure you are kept financially safe.
Why Shouldn’t I Talk To An Adjuster?
Policy holders frequently assume that the insurance company is on their side and exists to protect them and their well-being. Sadly, the insurance industry has evolved into one that is focused on making money and former insurance adjusters have reported that their employers trained them to ask questions which may lead to the reduction of a payout or denial of a claim.
Can An Attorney Really Help?
Yes! In addition to handling communication with the insurance company, an attorney can also inform you of any other legal avenues available to you. This may include a third-party lawsuit against the driver who caused the accident or, if you were driving for your job at the time of the crash, a workers’ compensation claim.
Can I File Both?
Yes, it is possible to file both a workers’ compensation claim and a third-party personal injury lawsuit at the same time. Through these claims, it may be possible to obtain the compensation you need to pay for medical treatments, cover the loss of wages from being unable to work, and even payments for emotional and physical trauma.
The last thing that any accident victim needs to deal with is the stress of dealing with the logistics of either of these claims. Any attorney can help you file all the necessary paperwork, handle any communication involving insurance companies, and can most likely negotiate a higher settlement on your behalf than you would have been able to on your own.