Georgia law prohibits drivers from touching their cell phones while driving, meaning that they are not allowed to write, read, or send text messages, e-mails or social media content while driving. Nor are drivers allowed to record videos with their phones or touch their phones to stream music or other programs. Cell phone usage can be impactful to a case involving an accident. A driver who causes an accident because he or she was using a cell phone can not only be held responsible for the wreck, but could also be found to be so reckless that punitive damages meant to punish or deter such behavior are appropriate.
Georgia law allows a plaintiff to seek and for a jury to award punitive damages where the defendant shows willful misconduct, malice, wantonness, oppression, reckless and an entire want of care which would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences. Punitive damages are separate from medical bills, lost wages, pain & suffering, and other losses for which an injured victim of a car accident can receive compensation.
There is a strong argument that using a cell phone inappropriately while driving is an intentional act that is reckless and shows lack of care for the consequences. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration texting is a most alarming distraction, and texting while driving has been proven to be 6 times more likely to cause a motor vehicle collision than drunk driving. Sending or reading a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.