Should Punitive Damages Be Allowed in Texting and Driving Collisions?
In Illinois, punitive damages are not obtainable unless the judge grants the plaintiff permission to seek them at trial. Punitive damages are not intended to compensate the plaintiff for the harm done to her. Instead, they are designed to punish the defendant for acting “with an utter indifference or conscious disregard for the safety of others.”
One example where judges will allow the plaintiff to ask the jury for punitive damages is where the defendant is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Recent studies show that texting and driving is at least as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. In addition, there has been a proliferation of public service advertisements warning drivers of the dangers of texting and driving. On the other hand, the public’s tolerance seems to be much higher for texting and driving than drunk driving. Many people react much differently to seeing someone with one hand on the steering wheel and the other guzzling a beer than somebody who is texting.
What is your opinion? If a driver harms someone while texting and driving, should he be subject to punitive damages? Contact us with comments or questions at (866) 400-4450.