Texting While Driving Is a Major Cause of Washington, D.C. Car Accidents

Although texting while driving is illegal in Washington, D.C., it still presents a serious danger to D.C. drivers. According to recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, about nine people are killed, and over 1,000 injured, every day in the United States in incidents involving a distracted driver.

Last month, a federal appeals court decided a case against Apple alleging that the iPhone’s text notification caused a fatal car crash involving a distracted driver. According to the plaintiff’s complaint, the at-fault driver received a text message on her iPhone as she was driving on the highway. That driver allegedly looked down to read the message, and when she looked back up at the road, she was unable to avoid a crash. She hit another vehicle, killing two adults and rendering a child paraplegic. The driver was convicted of criminally negligent homicide.

Representatives of the victims in the crash sued Apple in federal court, claiming that the crash was caused by Apple’s failure to warn users about the risks of distracted driving and by Apple’s failure to implement a lock-out mechanism. At the time, Apple had secured a patent for a “lock-out mechanism,” to prevent users from using certain functions while driving. The plaintiffs claimed that Apple was liable in part because it did not implement the lock-out mechanism on the iPhone 5, which the driver was using at the time of the crash. The plaintiffs further claimed that Apple was liable because there is “an unconscious and automatic, neurobiological compulsion to engage in texting behavior” when a user receives a text message notification. Apple moved to dismiss the lawsuit, and the court granted the motion, dismissing the plaintiffs’ complaint. The plaintiffs appealed the decision.

Proving Causation

Failing to prove causation will result in the dismissal of your personal injury claim, as the case above shows. And as the case shows, plaintiffs must prove not only that the injury was actually caused by the defendant’s conduct, but also that the accident was foreseeable or that the defendant should be held responsible.

The Court’s Decision

The appeals court decided that, under Texas law, a smartphone manufacturer cannot be held liable for injuries caused by a smartphone’s notification. The court considered dram shop liability, which holds businesses liable for injuries caused by intoxicated patrons served by the business. The court noted that liability in those cases was created by a law passed in the state, and that no such law exists yet for smartphone manufacturers. Ultimately, the court decided that it could not find that Apple’s conduct was a substantial factor in causing the injuries in the case, and dismissed the case against Apple.

Have You Been Injured?

If you have been in a car accident or other accident, speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Suffering a devastating and potentially long-term injury can be a stressful and overwhelming time for you and your family. The personal injury attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC represent accident victims in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. Our dedicated personal injury lawyers have decades of experience handling all types of personal injury claims. To discuss your claim with an attorney, call 410-654-3600 or contact us online.

More Blog Posts:

Washington, D.C. Car Accidents Occurring on Private Property, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, January 10, 2019

Recovering After a Washington D.C. Pedestrian Accident, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, December 27, 2018

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