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Motor vehicle accidents: Did you get hurt by a distracted driver?

You saw him in your rearview mirror. In fact, you saw him extra well because his face was illuminated by the cellphone in his hand. He didn't apply his brakes and was still barreling down the road at 40 mph when his sport utility vehicle slammed into the back of your compact sedan.

Thank goodness your children and your husband weren't in the car. They might have gotten hurt, too, and then what would your family have done? You survived with a broken femur and a broken rib. The doctor says you're going to be alright, but you can't work for a month, and you need plenty of bed rest.

I see lots of people texting-while-driving: Isn't it illegal?

The above situation can happen to anyone, and unfortunately, it often does happen. Also, if you look around, you will see countless drivers with smartphones in their hands performing all manner of tasks. Most of them are texting and updating their social media accounts.

It's illegal to use a smartphone while you're driving in New Jersey. Here's what the law says specifically:

-- No texting: You can't read or send texts on a cellphone or smartphone while driving.

-- No talking: You can't use a hand-held device to talk or listen to someone talking while driving. If you do talk on your phone while driving, you need to have it on hands-free mode.

-- No distracted smartphone use: You can't update your social media statuses or other surf the web or take photos or video with your smartphone while driving.

Can I pursue a legal action after being hurt by a distracted driver?

New Jersey courts are beginning to view distracted driving and particularly driving while distracted by a smartphone to be a pernicious legal violation on par with drunk driving. In fact, some studies show that texting-while-driving is even more dangerous than driving drunk.

If you were hurt by someone who was distracted by a cellphone, the law is on your side. You can pursue financial claims in civil court to seek compensation for the costs associated with your medical care, lost income due to time spent unable to work, pain and suffering, and perhaps punitive damages, court costs and legal fees and other categories of damages.

Source: Nov. 30, -0001

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