Most people in Montana are probably aware by now that texting and driving is a serious threat to safety. A number of safety campaigns have publicized the dangers. Yet people continue to do it, and it continues to cause accidents-some of them fatal.
Recently a 42-year-old male pedestrian was killed on Highway 2 in Glacier County. He was struck by a vehicle driven by a 29-year-old woman, who admitted to Montana Highway Patrol troopers that she was reading a text message at the time of the crash. She said she thought at first she had struck a horse in the roadway. Authorities say that speed and alcohol were also contributing factors in the accident.
Drivers have a legal duty to pay attention to their surroundings and keep a lookout for pedestrians. Failing to do so constitutes negligence, and if that negligence causes an accident, the distracted driver will be liable for any resulting injuries or deaths.
Text messaging is a particularly dangerous form of distraction. Typing or reading a text message on a cell phone takes the driver’s eyes off the road for several seconds and requires the driver to refocus their eyes on the small screen in front of them. During those critical seconds, a car traveling at highway speed can travel several hundred yards-with a driver who is essentially blind.
When a person dies in a distracted driver accident, surviving family members have the right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver. The family can recover compensation for loss of income and loss of companionship, as well as other damages. A wrongful death recovery can help a grieving family deal with the financial after-effects of a fatal accident, and give them some sense of justice being done.
Source: KXLH.com, “Name of victim in fatal crash near Browning released,” Sept. 30, 2013