Punitive Damages in Texting and Driving Cases

texting while driving


There’s no denying that texting and driving is dangerous, yet many drivers still do it every day. Driver inattention and distraction causes hundreds of thousands of accidents each year, and the personal injury attorneys at Thomas, Conrad & Conrad Law Offices have handled many car accident cases where victims are severely injured due to someone else’s negligence.

What Is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving involves any activity that takes your attention away from driving; including texting, talking on your cell phone, eating, adjusting the stereo or GPS system, and talking to passengers or dealing with pets or children in the car. Anything that diverts your attention from the task of driving could be considered distracted driving.

Distracted driving is a rapidly growing and dangerous problem in the U.S. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, (NHTSA), sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. Texting while driving is illegal in the state of Pennsylvania. Talking on a cell phone while driving is not, but they can both be considered distracted driving. Texting and driving distracts drivers three different ways:

  • Visually—Texting while driving takes the driver’s eyes off the road
  • Manually—It also takes the driver’s hands off the steering wheel, and
  • Cognitively—Texting takes the driver’s focus off driving

What Are Punitive Damages?

Unlike compensatory damages, which are intended to “make a plaintiff whole,” punitive damages are designed to punish a defendant for particularly egregious or outrageous conduct and to serve as a deterrent to prevent others from wrongdoing. Punitive damages are rarely awarded in car accident cases unless a drunken driver is involved. However, texting and driving could be considered outrageous or reckless behavior if that behavior causes harm to another person.

To award punitive damages, Pennsylvania courts typically require that a defendant’s mental state was above and beyond gross negligence, which means that their outrageous conduct was accompanied by a reckless indifference to the safety of others. The vast majority of drivers are well aware that texting and driving puts their lives and the lives of others at risk, so seeking punitive damages may be possible if you are involved in an accident with a driver who was texting.

Filing For Punitive Damages In A Texting and Driving Case

Hiring an experienced car accident attorney who understands the ins and outs of personal injury law is essential to successfully litigate a case involving punitive damages. If you have been injured or have lost a loved one in a texting and driving accident, contact Thomas, Conrad & Conrad Law Offices at 610-867-2900 to schedule a free consultation today.


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