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Proving Distraction: What Options Do Victims Have?

Yet another distraction-related crash appears to have injured a California police officer this week. A 17-year-old driver caused a chain reaction crash that ultimately caused another car to hit a motorcycle officer. The crash threw the officer from his motorcycle and hospitalized him with serious but undisclosed injuries.

After the wreck, an official from the California Highway Patrol said "there is evidence to indicate the teen was texting and driving." Texting and driving is not only illegal in California - it is also strong evidence that the driver's negligence is to blame for the victim's injuries. 

All of this raises a question about car accident lawsuits: how can victims prove whether another driver was texting or surfing the web? There are several possible answers. In many cases, offending drivers readily admit that they were not paying attention because of a phone-related distraction. Sometimes a passenger or a nearby observer is willing to testify to what happened.

If none of these routes are available, judges are often willing to order drivers to disclose their phone records during the early phase of a lawsuit. An experienced personal injury lawyer can piece together what happened by linking phone records to the timeline of a crash. These kinds of evidential inferences can mean the difference between successful recovery and a lost case.

Source: U-T San Diego, "CHP: Cop hurt in crash caused by texting teen," Teri Figueroa and Susan Shroder, May 29, 2013

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