The winds are a changin'. As of October 1, 2014, Florida drivers are no longer permitted to text and drive.
The statistics are staggering. Texting while driving is more distracting than driving drunk. I recently spoke with an officer at a highway safety education event who said that 3 out of 4 accidents he investigates are related to texting!
In an effort to educate students across the state, I have been invited to speak with a fantastic panel for the Dori Slosberg Highway Safety Foundation. We are conducting seminars for high school students in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
These are some of the most productive and fulfilling engagements that I have ever been involved with. It is truly new information for these young drivers to hear that, not only are they fully responsible for the damages they causing an automobile, but that their parents are equally responsible for their mistakes. They are confused and almost in disbelief when I explain that if they seriously harm or kill a human being in their automobile, their parents can lose everything they have ever worked for because of their accident.
With the new anti-texting law, it is now illegal to text and drive. Therefore, if a teenage driver crashes and injures someone while texting, they will not only be responsible for all of the compensatory losses (like pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical bills), but they will also be responsible for a very likely punitive damage verdict. Those punitive damages, or punishment damages, can be millions and millions of dollars over and above the original multi-million dollar compensatory damage verdict! What's worse is that punitive damages are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. That means that until you fully pay them, you never get rid of them.
I believe it is important for teenagers to hear that an accident they have when they are 17 or 18 years old can stick with them until they are 40 years old or sometimes for life. When I explain to students that we would be able to take half of their paychecks 20 years down the road, they stare back at me in complete and utter shock.
It is a great feeling! You really feel like you are teaching these kids a hard life lesson that will hopefully stick in their minds next time they are out on the road and get a text from a friend.
The attorneys at LaBovick Law Group are passionate about enforcing the laws and protecting the injured. We will use every law at our disposal to provide our clients the maximum amount of justice the law permits. That now includes the new texting and driving prohibition.
Young drivers here is your warning: Do not drink and drive. Do not text and drive. Do not allow your passengers to ride without their seatbelts fastened. Acting wild or engaging in horseplay while you are driving can have serious consequences. It is easy to make a mistake, but it is your responsibility to take all the precautions necessary so that those mistakes do not happen.
Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by boulemonademoon
Brian F. LaBovick, Esq. is the founder and managing shareholder of LaBovick Law Group, a boutique trial law firm focusing on injury cases throughout the state of Florida. Mr. LaBovick is dedicated to helping victims and protecting their rights within our legal system. He is an award-winning and AV-rated attorney.