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What Constitutes ‘Distracted Driving’ In Florida?


Distracted driving has become a serious negative trend across the United States in recent years, playing a role in approximately 10 percent of fatal car accidents in 2019, causing over 3,100 deaths. The majority of distracted driving accidents could be avoided, which is why it is beginning to be taken so seriously by law enforcement. This is particularly true in states like Florida that see a high number of tourists year-round, which leads to a high number of vehicles on the road. If you believe you have been injured by a distracted driver, you may be able to receive compensation for the harm you have suffered.

Many Varied Distractions

Distracted driving has no precise legal definition; rather, it is generally understood as any instance of driving while engaged in another task where one’s full attention is not on the road. A ‘distraction’ can be visual, manual, cognitive, or in rare cases, all three. Other common distractions include everything from talking to passengers, changing the music or the GPS, and eating, among others. Sometimes, occurrences outside the vehicle can also amount to a distraction as well, such as “rubbernecking” at an accident or event.

Texting and driving in particular poses an extremely high risk to all on the road. It is one of the rare actions that can constitute a distraction of all three types, because it takes your eyes and attention off the road, and it has been linked to elevated death rates both in Florida and nationwide, particularly among those aged 18-25. Florida originally passed a law regulating texting and driving in 2013, but it was not until 2019 that the law became a primary offense (in other words, an offense that law enforcement can stop someone for without any other cause) and began to affect rates of distracted driving for the better.

Establishing Negligence

Florida has what is known as no-fault auto insurance, which means that even if a negligent driver causes an auto accident, you generally may not file suit against them unless your injuries are particularly severe and your medical bills pass a certain threshold. Florida drivers are required to carry at least $10,000 in personal injury protection coverage, and $10,000 in property damage liability coverage, and this coverage is to be used in accident claims in most cases.

If your medical bills total more than $10,000, the tort immunity is lifted and you can file suit in district court. If you are able to do so, you may also start ahead of the game, so to speak; there is a doctrine referred to as negligence per se that states that if someone breaks a law and injures someone that law was designed to protect, they are negligent as a matter of law. This means that you, the injured plaintiff, do not have to spend time establishing negligence step by step; you can simply point to the law being broken as proof of negligence.

Call A Tampa Auto Accident Lawyer

Florida’s roads are always busy, but they do not have to be as dangerous as they are. Distracted driving has been established as a danger to everyone on the road. If you have been injured in an accident with a distracted driver, it can be helpful to know that you have options in seeking compensation. The Tampa car accident attorneys at the Rinaldo Law Group are well versed in these types of cases, and are ready to work hard to protect your interests. Call our offices today for a free consultation.





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