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The Challenge of Proving Distracted Driving as a Cause of Atlanta Car Accidents

October 18, 2013

Anyone that commutes to work or drives their child to school in Atlanta has probably observed motorists driving into an adjacent lane, changing lanes without looking or failing to stop at a light or signal.  These dangerous driving practices often are the result of drivers looking down into their lap to read a text message or engaging in a cell phone conversation.  While distracted driving is a common cause of car accidents in Atlanta and throughout Georgia, there can be challenges when attempting to prove that cell phone activity caused a collision resulting in severe injuries or wrongful death.

A recent story in the Associated Press (AP) describing the tragic death of a 17-year-old girl in a fatal distracted driving accident illustrates the problem.  The young girl reportedly told a friend in her final words prior to the deadly crash: “I am going to crash!”  Despite these last fateful words, the police attributed the accident to driving errors made by an inexperienced driver according to the article.

The National Safety Council reports that cell phone-related crashes are drastically underreported.  The National Safety Council studied over 180 fatal crashes over a three year period involving strong evidence that a cell phone was being used by the driver and found that only an average of 31 percent of the crashes were coded in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s accident database as involving a cell phone.  According to the report, almost half of the cases where the driver admitted using a cell phone during a car accident were not reported that way in the crash database.  Although the federal agencies crash database reports 32,000 traffic fatalities in 2011, federal data only indicates 385 of these crashes involved the use of a cell phone. 

This lack of reporting of cell phone use as a cause of car accidents is also relevant for establishing causation in a negligence claim or lawsuit.  There may not be evidence that a distracted driver was using a cell phone to talk or text for a number of reasons, such as:

  • Lack of precision in establishing the time of the collision
  • Reluctance to admit distracted driving
  • Obstacles faced by law enforcement in obtaining cell phone records
  • Tendency of law enforcement to attribute the accident to other factors where possible

Many times it is not necessary to establish that a driver was using a cell phone while driving in a Georgia car accident lawsuit if unsafe driving practices or traffic violations can be proven.  And sometimes the use of a cell phone was just one of seeral factors that may have contributed to a collision.  However, there are many cases where the issue of fault is unclear so proving that a motorist was distracted by a cell phone can be important evidence of negligence.  Our Georgia cell phone car accident lawyers often engage in an investigation to establish that a driver was distracted by a cell phone, which may include:

  • Careful analysis of the accident report and witness statements
  • Obtaining cell phone activity logs and other cell phone records
  • Deposition of the driver and anyone who records show the driver was texting or talking with near the time of the accident

If you or someone you love has been injured in a collision with a distracted driver in Atlanta, our Atlanta auto accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to those throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. We have been protecting the rights of injured people and getting them the compensation they deserve for over 38 years.

No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333).  You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.


Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.