How Does Distracted Driving Impact an Alberta Personal Injury Award?

If the driver of the vehicle who hit you was texting while driving then you could have a much stronger case. For one thing, RCMP now treats distracted driving as a form of impaired driving.


The penalty for driving while distracted is a $300 fine and 3 demerit points. Drivers don’t go to jail for it necessarily like they would for a DWI, but the law still treats these infractions very seriously.


If we can prove the driver who hit you was texting while driving or distracted in some other way then it may be possible to attach 100% of the fault for the case on that driver, which means you’ll have the upper hand in any negotiations we conduct on your behalf. That’s a case that is likely to garner a high settlement without ever requiring a trip to a courtroom.


If you were the distracted driver then your case could be in real trouble. If the defendant can prove you were on your cell phone during the accident then there’s a good chance your claim will be thrown out and your case will be denied. At best, you will be hit with a hefty contributory negligence penalty.


If both drivers were distracted then there is a good chance they will both be assigned roughly 50% of the liability. In Alberta that means neither one of them are going to recover enough money to make the case worth pursuing.


Distracted driving is ubiquitous enough to ensure that both parties almost always subpoena cell phone records during the discovery phase of the case. A good lawyer will examine these records to discover if the driver was talking or texting during the accident.


Cell phone forensics can also tell if a driver was operating music apps while the accident occurred, or attempting to program the GPS, two things that many drivers do, dangerously, while the vehicle is in motion. You should always situate both your music and your GPS before starting the car.


If you’ve been injured in an accident and aren’t sure whether you have a case, ask yourself what you were doing at the time of the accident before reaching out to a lawyer. Driving while operating a cell phone is one of the few cases where taking the insurance company’s first offered settlement and keeping your own mouth shut may be the smartest thing you can do.


Note, some actions are not distracted driving. For example, you still have a case if you were drinking a coffee or a soda while driving. If you were using a bluetooth speaker phone or an earphone in a hands-free or voice activated manner then that, too, can be proven, and you probably still have a case.


If you were doing everything you were supposed to be doing and a driver hurt you because that driver wasn’t paying attention to the road? Then call us, because we’re happy to fight for you just as long and as hard as we need to.


Not sure? Contact us for a free consultation. We’ll give you the facts and we’ll give them to you straight.

About Donald I.M. Outerbridge

Donald became the Executive Director of Merchant Law Group LLP starting in 1993, nearly 30 years ago. His experience managing law firms at various levels and in multiple provinces across Canada goes back even further to 1981.