Man is texting on his cellphone while driving
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Contrary to popular belief, merely being on your phone at the time of an accident does not automatically make you at fault. In legal terms, fault will be tied to the concept of negligence. Negligence refers to the failure to exercise reasonable care, resulting in harm to others. Whether you were on your phone, eating, or adjusting the radio, the crucial factor is whether your actions constituted a breach of the duty of care expected on the road.

Furthermore, it is important to note that North Dakota follows a modified comparative fault system, which means that more than one party can share responsibility for an accident. If both parties are found to be at fault, the degree of fault is assessed, and the injured party’s compensation is reduced by their percentage of responsibility. This approach recognizes that accidents are rarely black and white, and assigning fault requires a careful examination of the circumstances.

It is also important to note that North Dakota does have distracted driving laws in place that may come into play in these kinds of cases. While using a phone while driving is legal in North Dakota, certain restrictions exist. Texting while driving is explicitly prohibited, and drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using handheld electronic devices. If an accident occurs while a driver is in violation of these laws, it can significantly impact the determination of fault. However, violating these laws does not automatically make the driver at fault; it is one of several factors considered in assessing negligence.

To hold someone responsible for an accident, it must be established that their actions directly caused or contributed to the collision. If being on your phone can be linked to the cause of the accident, such as distracted driving leading to a rear-end collision, it becomes a relevant factor in determining negligence. However, causation is a complex element that requires a thorough investigation.

There may also be mitigating factors at play. After all, there can be a number of mitigating factors that can influence the determination of fault in accidents involving mobile devices. For instance, if another driver ran a red light, resulting in a collision with a driver on their phone, the primary fault may lie with the driver who violated traffic signals. The mere presence of a phone in the equation does not negate other contributing factors that may have played a role in the accident.

Contact Pringle & Herigstad for Consultation

The assumption that being on your phone at the time of an accident automatically place you at fault is a misconception. While distracted driving, including phone use, can be a factor in determining negligence, it is just one element in a comprehensive evaluation. If you find yourself involved in an accident where phone use is a factor, you can count on the experienced legal guidance of our team at Pringle & Herigstad. Contact us today.