As a Davie tractor-trailer accident lawyer, I’ve written here several times before about the dangers of driving while talking on the phone. That’s why I was interested to see an article from Tampa Bay Online about the dedication of a part of U.S. 27 in Polk County to a phoning and driving victim. Heather Hurd, 26, died three years ago when a trucker distracted by his cell phone smashed into a line of cars stopped at a traffic light. The crash also killed Stephanie A. Phillips, 37, of Haines City. Hurd’s parents have become anti-distracted-driving activists since their daughter’s death and have successfully lobbied for a “Heather’s Law” banning talking on the phone while driving in their home state of Maryland. They and her 21-year-old brother were present Jan. 3 at a dedication ceremony for the Heather Hurd Memorial Highway near the site of the crash.
Hurd loved Disney World so much that she moved to Florida to work there. She was also planning her wedding at the park, and was on her way to meet a wedding planner on the day of the crash. As she waited at the stoplight, truck driver David Lunger of Jacksonville approached in his big rig. He told investigators he was using his phone, and they believe he also had exceeded limits on his hours behind the wheel. He failed to stop and smashed into nine stopped cars, killing Hurd and Phillips. Lunger was later cited and fined for careless driving, and died in 2009. Russell Hurd, Heather Hurd’s father, has made it a goal to pass a “Heather’s Law” in Florida and any other state that doesn’t already ban phoning and driving. Such a law was introduced in Florida last year and passed the state Senate, but was never introduced in the state House.
I hope that changes. As a Boca Raton trucking accident attorney, I’ve seen far too many cases of accidents caused by drivers distracted by cell phones. Many states already have bans on texting and driving, which may be an easier target because texting requires drivers to take their eyes off the road, or because texters tend to be inexperienced younger drivers. But research indicates that driving suffers if the driver is talking to someone not in the car, even if his or her eyes are on the road all the time, simply because of the cognitive demands of speaking to someone while also performing all the tasks needed to drive safely. Without a law against this behavior, it’s difficult to discourage this behavior or penalize the people who do it. However, even if there’s no criminal case against a distracted driver, victims and their families can always pursue legal claims against drivers whose distraction caused serious injuries or deaths.
Cohn, Smith & Cohn has practiced personal injury law in Florida for nearly 25 years. We put that long experience to work for our clients in cases of serious commercial truck accidents, which tend to be very medically, legally and emotionally complex. Because of their size, large trucks can do much more damage in a crash than a passenger car, which often means deaths or permanent disabilities for the people they hurt. This, in turn, means victims need to make sure they claim a lifetime of medical costs, lost wages and fair valuation for things like lost quality of life. Our Sunrise semi truck accident lawyers have extensive experience in valuing injury claims and will work hard to ensure that clients get the fairest possible settlement for their injuries, losses and financial costs.
If you or someone you love was hit by an at-fault truck driver, don’t wait before you contact Cohn, Smith & Cohn for help. To learn more or set up a free consultation, you can contact us through our website or call our main office in Broward County at (954) 431-8100.