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Tampa Man Loses Both Legs to Accident Caused by Texting Driver

As a Fort Lauderdale car crash attorney, I have followed with interest the ongoing national debate over whether to outlaw text messaging while driving. That’s why a report on an accident in Polk County from Tampa Bay Online Nov. 10 caught my eye. According to the article, Stephen Horne, 26, is charged with reckless driving causing serious bodily injury in an Aug. 25 accident that took place in Bartow. He allegedly was texting when he ran his car into 20-year-old Emmanuel “Manny” Mejia, who was working behind a trash truck for Florida Refuse. The resulting accident cost Mejia both legs, a finger and a thumb.

The charge specifically links Horne’s text messaging to the crash. That makes it the first of its kind in the 10th Judicial Circuit, which includes Polk County as well as Highlands and Hardee Counties. The state’s attorney, Jerry Hill, said Horne made an intentional choice to focus on texting rather than on his driving. This may have been the rationale for charging Horne with felony reckless driving rather than a lesser misdemeanor charge. Horne faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

My heart goes out to Mejia, a young father whose life has radically changed because of someone else’s unsafe choices behind the wheel. As a Coral Springs auto accident lawyer, I am pleased that the state’s attorney’s office is treating texting while driving with the seriousness it deserves. A series of studies over the summer exposed just how dangerous the practice can be. Possibly as a result, the federal Department of Transportation called a “distracted driving summit” at the end of September, which focused largely on texting while driving. Legislation to ban the practice has been introduced in Congress, and safety experts urge states without such a ban (including Florida) to do likewise. Strict enforcement of any ban, along with existing recklessness laws, could do a lot to convince drivers to take these dangers seriously.

Cohn, Smith & Cohn has more than 25 years of experience helping people involved in catastrophic Florida auto accidents. Our Delray Beach car wreck attorneys represent people who were seriously injured, or lost a loved one, because of someone else’s carelessness behind the wheel. Under Florida law, these victims have a legal right to sue the person responsible for causing their accidents — regardless of whether any criminal charges were filed. In a lawsuit, accident victims can recover compensation for a lifelong disability, the loss of a loved one, physical pain and emotional trauma. Just as importantly for many families, they can recover all of the costs of the accident, including lost earnings from not being able to work, as well as the cost of all past and future medical bills. Our goal is always to get clients the money they need to get medical care, make ends meet and move past their accidents as much as possible.

If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a traffic accident that was no fault of your own, Cohn, Smith & Cohn can help. To set up a free, confidential evaluation of your case, please contact us online or call (954) 431-8100 today.

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