Snapchat, a popular social media application, encourages its users to live in the moment. With over 100 million active users and eight billion video views every day, it is an incredibly popular platform with mainly young people, but has also expanded its reach to many other generations.
However, just last week Snapchat has come under considerable fire. An Atlanta man suffered a serious brain injury after being in an accident with a teen driver who was allegedly using Snapchat while driving. Within the application, users can select different filters. The at fault driver allegedly selected a filter that displays a user’s current speed overlaid on a photo or video taken by the user. The teen took a snap that reportedly showed her going 113 mph in a 55 mph zone. Snapchat responded to the lawsuit and said that it warns users not to use the feature while operating a motor vehicle, but this warning does not appear each time the feature is used and the lawsuit questions if the warning is sufficient.
The distracted teen using Snapchat failed to notice a car merging onto the highway and struck the other vehicle so violently that the other driver spent five weeks in the hospital. After the accident, the teen posted another photo from the Snapchat application, with a caption claiming she was lucky to be alive. This accident adds to the increasingly growing number of crashes that can be attributed to distracted driving. In 2014, over 3,000 people were killed and over 430,000 were injured in distracted driving crashes. With car accidents caused by distracted drivers growing at alarming rates, laws are being passed around the country to help quell the number of serious injuries and deaths that are caused in these types of negligence.
What Is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving has become more and more of a problem in recent years. The development of portable technology has made drivers of all ages less and less attentive to the road. The United States Government defines distracted driving as activities that divert a person’s attention away from driving. This includes using a cellphone, eating, watching a video, adjusting the radio. According to one study, it takes the average person five seconds of not looking at the road to respond to a text, which is the equivalent of traveling the length of a football field blindfolded if driving at 50 mph.
Distracted Driving Accidents
The National Highway and Safety Administration has indicated there are three types of distracted driving. The first type is a visual distraction where a driver physically takes their eyes off the road. This would include looking down at a cellphone screen or turning around to view something in the back seat. The next type of distraction is a manual distraction. This involves taking your hands off the wheel. Without having both hands on the wheel drivers lack full control of their vehicle. The last type of distraction recognized by the NHTSA is cognitive distraction. This would include distractions such as daydreaming or even talking to a passenger.
Distracted Driving in Georgia
Georgia has several laws that prohibit distracted driving. Some are bans on cellphone use all over the state and there are additional local regulations from cities and municipalities. As of 2010, the Georgia legislature enacted a law that prohibits texting while driving. Violating this statute will get drivers 1 point on their license and a fine, but the higher risk comes from the failure to pay attention to the road which could result in the accident. Despite there being a ban on texting while driving, there is no general ban on the use of cellphones while operating a motor vehicle. The 2010 law expanded Georgia’s existing distracted driving statute. The ban applies to all drivers with particular focus on teens.
Georgia Comparative Negligence
Georgia negligence law requires drivers to use a certain degree of care while on the road. This degree of care requires drivers to act as any other Georgia driver would in the same or similar circumstances. Georgia allows an individual to recover in a car accident even if they were partially at fault. Georgia lets individuals recover damages if they were partially at fault, but prevents recovery if the individual was 50 percent or more at fault. This means that even if a court determined you were 49 percent at fault in an accident, you still may be able to recover damages. However, determining who is negligent in a car accident can be a difficult process, and while distracted driving is often a contributing factor to car accidents, it cannot always be said that it is the sole cause. Having an experienced attorney who understands negligence law on your side is an incredibly important component to recovering the compensation you deserve after an accident.
Damages in Distracted Driving Cases
In a 2011 case, the Georgia court of appeals held that the use of a cell phone alone is not enough to create an award of punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded in Georgia when there is willful misconduct or wantonness. The court highlighted that even gross negligence is not enough to rise to the level of punitive damages. Punitive damages in Georgia are generally awarded when the at fault driver has been speeding or driving under the influence. However, evidence is growing that cellphone use while driving is as dangerous as drunk driving, so the Georgia courts may revisit this issue. While punitive damages may be unavailable, someone who has been injured by a distracted driver can still recover damages for medical bills, loss of wages and pain and suffering.
How Can a Georgia Accident Lawyer Help?
If you have been in an accident with a distracted driver, a knowledgeable Georgia auto accident attorney can provide legal help to assist you with your injuries. The Georgia Injury attorneys at The Law Office of John B. Jackson can fight to protect your legal rights. Car accidents can change your life, and we are here for you to help you get back on the right track. Contact us today for a free consultation on your case.