Can A Plaintiff Seek Punitive Damages If Defendant Was Texting At Time of Car Accident?

Some car accident victims ask that question, because, in their eyes, texting seems like such an innocent action. Actually, it is not. Texting exemplifies the type of distraction that can present a danger to others.

Why is texting so very dangerous?

Performance of that act interferes with the body’s normal control of eye-hand coordination. It decreases the ability of the person doing the texting to prepare for an imminent emergency. Unfortunately, the successful completion of a text eliminates the ability of law enforcement to discover the performance of an unlawful act. No emergency has arisen. The driver did not have to prepare for any emergency.

Still, the mere proof that a defendant had been texting, at the time of an automobile accident does not give the plaintiff the automatic right to seek punitive damages. That plaintiff needs to seek legal help, in order to make such a charge.

What information should the lawyer seek, in order to help his or her client?

The lawyer must find out if the other driver’s actions were willful and wanton. Had the driver started a round of text messages, or was the driver responding to such a message? If the latter situation applies to this particular case, what was the nature of the message, and who sent it?

If the driver had gotten a text message from a caregiver, someone that was caring for the driver’s elderly mother or father, the court might be less likely to agree to saddling the sender of the text message with punitive damages. On the other hand, if the message had gone to a friend or lover, the court would feel more inclined to seek the payment expected for such damages.

The personal injury lawyer in Sarnia would also collect the facts that showed all the harm done to his or her client, as a result of the accident, the one caused by the effort to send a text message. The bulk of those facts would probably come from the victim’s medical reports. If the court could be shown that the defendant’s actions had harmed the plaintiff, then it would feel more inclined to honor a request for imposition of punitive damages.

Keep in mind that the final decision could be the one made by a jury. In this type of case, a jury does not have to feel that the plaintiff’s case has been proven beyond the shadow of a doubt. The jury only needs to find that the plaintiff’s evidence has shown two things to be true?

What are those two things? The jury must find that it is more likely than not that the defendant was negligent, and that the defendant’s negligence caused the plaintiff to be harmed.