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Is a driver at fault for a crash for texting at the wheel?

On Behalf of | Jan 24, 2023 | Personal Injury

The determination of fault for a motor vehicle collision is key to the protection of everyone involved. The person who caused the crash provides the insurance coverage that pays to repair other people’s vehicles and for their health care needs following the collision. If the person who caused the crash broke the law or did something negligent, they could also be subject to a personal injury lawsuit when insurance coverage is not sufficient given the impact the crash has on others.

Numerous mistakes might lead to someone causing a motor vehicle collision. People get behind the wheel after drinking or fail to maintain a vehicle, so the brakes don’t work at a crucial moment. Would texting at the wheel also constitute a mistake that makes someone liable for a crash?

Distracted driving is a primary infraction in Illinois

If there is proof that someone texted while driving, the officer evaluating the crash will very likely hold them at least partially responsible for the wreck. Illinois treats texting at the wheel as a primary infraction.

Police officers can stop a vehicle to issue a citation when they notice that someone has committed a primary infraction even if everything else they do is appropriate and legal. Speeding and driving the wrong way on a one-way street are also examples of primary infractions.

An officer could very easily determine that texting while driving was the underlying cause of someone’s crash. However, the driver who had their phone in their hands may not admit immediately to doing something that they know is both a traffic violation and negligent.

Drivers who believe they spotted signs of distraction at the wheel before a crash may need to notify the police officer at the scene of the collision about their suspicions. Police officers can potentially obtain app and data usage records or even security or traffic camera footage that would help them validate someone’s claims of a driver texting at the wheel.

Given that it is a violation of traffic laws and also an unsafe habit, a driver who texted the wheel might open themselves up to civil litigation in addition to responsibility for the crash and the police report. Familiarizing yourself with Illinois traffic laws will help you pursue financial justice after a motor vehicle collision leaves you injured or without transportation.