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Drivers Could Be Subject To Punitive Damages If They Caused A PA Car Accident While Using A GPS

We all know about the dangers of texting while driving.  It only takes 2 seconds for a driver to take his eyes off the road and cause a serious car or car/pedestrian accident.  In Pennsylvania, it is illegal to text while you drive.  Click here to read more about PA's texting and driving ban.  However, texting while driving is only one type of distracted driving that can cause serious or fatal accidents.  Drivers are often distracted when they eat, put on make-up or use the GPS while they are driving.

In a recent PA car accident case in Lackawanna County, a trial judge ruled that a driver who causes an accident while using a GPS device may not only be found liable for the accident, but may also be subject to punitive damages if the driver had completely diverted his or her attention away from the road.

Though the trial judge in the Lackawanna County case of Rockwell v. Knott found that the driver was not subject to punitive damages because plaintiff could not prove that the driver was looking at the GPS rather than the road when the accident occurred, it is clear that the defendant would have been subject to punitive damages if plaintiff could prove it.

The trial judge stated, "[a] motorist arguably may engage in recklessly indifferent conduct, and thereby be potentially liable for punitive damages, if [s]he completely diverts his or her attention from the roadway to observe a low-positioned GPS device and nevertheless continues to travel on the roadway until [s]he collides with another vehicle[.]"

In general, injured victims of car accidents can recover several types of damages from the drivers at fault, such as:

  • lost wages,
  • medical expenses, and
  • pain and suffering.

A punitive damages claim is typically not allowed in ordinary negligence lawsuits.  Punitive damages are warranted when a person acts in such a way that he/she shows a patent disregard for the health and safety of others.  Therefore, this case opens the door for plaintiffs to recover punitive damages from the driver if they can prove the driver diverted his/her attention away from the road to use a GPS.

Related Content: A Look Back At A PA Texting While Driving Car Accident Case|PA Car Accident Lawyer

Help After A PA And NJ Distracted Car Accident

If you were injured in a car, truck or bus accident in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, feel free to contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at White and Williams LLP.  Daniel J. O’Brien, Esq. and his team have helped numerous distracted car accident victims in NJ and PA to recover damages.  Call for a free initial consultation 877.944.8396.


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