We hear a great deal about distracted driving these days. Texting, talking, recording, even posting to social network cites have all been blamed for serious injury crashes in the past several months. It seems like a new study of the carnage caused by distracted drivers appears every month. The New York Times is even running a series on the topic. http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/technology/series/driven_to_distraction/ It seems like an epidemic has been loosed on the highways and biways of our country and there is nothing that can be done about it.
Making distracted drivers face full personal responsibility is one place to start. The facts about what causes crashes must be admissible in every case. One role of jurors in our courts is to enforce safety rules that protect everyone from danger. In the area of distracted driving the courts are failing to give jurors information they need to complete their mission. We are seeing more and more cases where courts rule that, when the defendant in a case admits fault, the facts supporting the admission are not told to the jury. In other words, the defendant can hide his own conduct from the jury. The defendant is still free to attack the injured victim of that conduct while pretending to accept fault. Acceptance of fault however has two parts, accepting what you did is wrong and doing everything you can to make it right. The tactic of hiding the basis of fault switches the focus of the case from the misconduct of the defendant to any form of character assassination the defense (read insurance company) can dream up to turn on the injured victim. Defense tactics include stalking injured persons with video cameras in an attempt to record a minute of activity that the company’s hired gun doctors can claim is inconsistent with the injuries diagnosed. This is then put before jurors in a vacuum in which trust is shifted to the defendant who is “doing the right thing” by admitting fault. The whole story is never told, the safety rules are weakened and the body count piles up.