Distracted driving is a growing problem nationwide and in greater Baltimore. Maryland law prohibits the use of handheld devices and engaging in other distracted behavior while driving. However, the use of hands-free devices is not currently prohibited in Maryland. Despite the common belief that hands-free devices are safer for motorists, they still pose a serious risk.
Hands-Free Devices: Risks and Liability
The problem with pushing motorists to hands-free devices is studies continue to show they do little to eliminate motorist distraction associated with cell phone use.
The National Safety Council is among the organizations that have taken the lead when it comes to studying hands-free driver distraction. The organization reports motorists process up to one-third fewer moving images when listening or talking on the phone and miss seeing up to 50 percent of what is going on outside the windshield.
Even motorists in compliance with hands-free driving laws may still be found negligent in the event of an accident that results in serious or fatal injury. Maryland personal injury claims will hinge on defendant's breach of duty, actual losses suffered by plaintiff, and causation (defendant's actions or inactions caused plaintiff's losses and injuries).
However, Maryland's contributory negligence law can be a bar to recovery. Maryland has one of the toughest laws in the country, in that motorists who are found even partially at fault for an accident may be prohibited from collecting damages. This tough standard was reviewed in 2013 for the first time in 30 years. Unfortunately, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled 5-3 in Coleman v. Soccer Association of Columbia to uphold the law.
Only 5 states continue to use such a harsh standard. Most states use comparative negligence, which allows an injured party to seek recovery as long as he or she was less than half at fault for an accident. These tough standards in Maryland make it advisable to hire an experienced injury attorney before making statements to law enforcement or insurance companies, as admitting any blame may permanently bar you from collecting damages from another at-fault party.
If the negligence of a distracted driver caused your traffic accident, you should speak to an attorney at Mike Slocumb Law Firm. Contact us today and find out how we can help you.