Drivers can face all sorts of distractions when they are behind the wheel. In fact, when a driver is distracted while driving, the consequences can be just as bad as driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs.

Is Operating a Vehicle While Distracted Considered Negligent Behavior?

While this answer may seem straightforward, we need to be very clear about what is negligent and what is not because this plays a significant role in any potential personal injury claim that could arise as a result of a crash caused by distracted driving behavior.

What is Negligence While Driving?

Negligence behind the wheel of a vehicle can typically be defined as when a motorist fails to act in a responsible manner in a specific situation on the roadway. All drivers have a duty of care to operate their vehicles safely. There are various types of distracted driving behaviors that could certainly be considered negligent, including:

  • Holding a phone to the ear
  • Sending or receiving text messages
  • Browsing the Internet or email
  • Fiddling with the radio or GPS
  • Reaching for objects inside the car
  • Eating or drinking
  • Grooming or applying makeup
  • …and more

How Do You Prove a Driver Was Negligent & Distracted?

If you or somebody you care about has been injured in a car accident caused by the actions of a distracted driver, proving that the other driver was negligent can be challenging. First, we want to mention how beneficial it will be to have a skilled Montana car accident lawyer by your side to handle these cases. An attorney will be able to help investigate the incident and gather the evidence needed to prove what happened.

Some of the evidence that can be used to prove that a driver was negligent and distracted include the following:

  • Statements from any eyewitnesses who saw what happened
  • Possible video surveillance from dash cameras or from cameras on nearby buildings
  • Mobile device data records from phone companies
  • Vehicle “black box” data
  • Police reports
  • Driver statements

Believe it or not, it is not uncommon for negligent drivers to admit fault immediately following an accident. They could say something like, “I’m so sorry, I was looking at my phone.” In fact, some drivers may not even realize they have admitted that they were distracted. Ideally, it would be nice if an at-fault driver made this type of admission to a responding police officer so that the officer can note that in their report.

Can Phone Records Be Requested in Distracted Driving Cases?

Yes, if a vehicle accident is thought to have been caused by a driver who was using their phone when the incident occurred, it may be possible to obtain their phone records. However, this is not an easy process. The injury victim is not going to be able to call the phone company and simply ask for the at-fault party’s records.

However, a skilled personal injury lawyer in Montana will be able to help go through the court system to obtain a subpoena for these records. This will likely be necessary if a civil personal injury lawsuit has been filed and it looks like the case could be heading for a trial. The phone records could be obtained and admitted into the case as evidence. These records will be turned over to the other party during the discovery process, and they could help influence the decision about whether or not to settle before a case has to go all the way to trial.