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Tip for Michigan Car Accident Lawyers: Prove Texting Caused Accident

September 24, 2008 by Steven M. Gursten

It’s no surprise that texting while driving on Michigan roads greatly increases the likelihood of getting into a serious car accident. But one recent tragedy is providing a shocking, real-life example — that automobile accident lawyers can also learn from.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating a Los Angeles Metrolink commuter train crash, which resulted in 25 deaths and 128 people injured. According to published reports, it’s suspected that the engineer of the train was text messaging when the train ran a stop signal and crashed into an oncoming freight engine.

Like the National Transportation Safety Board is doing, Michigan personal injury lawyers have the ability to prove a driver who caused an accident was texting. At the beginning of a lawsuit, they can simply subpoena the driver’s cell phone records from the carrier by obtaining the defendant’s cell phone number, just like lawyers did in the legal proceedings of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

If a driver caused a catastrophic car accident because he had his eyes and hands on his cell phone instead of the road, personal injury attorneys can build a substantially better case for their clients using cell phone records as evidence to prove the defendant’s negligence.

Anti-Texting Laws in the Works, but on Hold in Michigan

Meanwhile, anti-texting laws are following a national stream of general bans on cell phone use while driving.

A Sept. 16 MSNBC story said five states expressly prohibit texting while driving: Alaska, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, Washington State as well as the District of Columbia. And at least 16 states are considering legislation that would outlaw or restrict the practice of texting while driving, says a February U.S. News and World Report article. Those states are Michigan, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

In Michigan, Sen. “Buzz” Thomas (D-Detroit) introduced Senate Bill 783, which would stick drivers caught reading, typing or sending text messages on a cell phone or electronic wireless device like a BlackBerry, with $100 fines. The punishment would be a secondary offense, meaning police could only ticket drivers for violating the rule if they were pulled over for another reason. The bill was last referred to the Committee on Energy Policy and Public Utilities, but has been stagnant since last September.

To our appreciated readers, what are your thoughts on texting while driving and instituting a law to stop it? To our lawyer readers, have you ever used texting records to prove a negligent driver caused an auto accident? Give us your feedback below.

This post was written by Steve Gursten, managing partner of Michigan Auto Law. To learn more, visit Steve Gursten’s LinkedIn profile.

Related information:

Michigan Car Accident Legal Resource Center

Protecting Your Rights Before a Car Accident

Basics of Michigan No-Fault Insurance Law

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