New Orleans drivers may continue to use their cell phones, and New Orleans personal injury attorneys may continue to seek damages from drivers who cause accidents because they were on the phone. Both of these issues were the subject of a bill recently rejected by the Louisiana House of Representatives.
For years, efforts have been made in the Louisiana legislature to extend state limitations on cell phone use while driving. The current law bans the use of wireless devices, including cell phones, by drivers under the age of eighteen. The bill considered by the House of Representatives proposed that Louisiana join the growing number of states banning the use of hand-held cell phones by drivers of all ages. Use of hands free devices would have remained legal.
Proponents of the bill presented statewide data that supported the danger of using a hand held cell phone while driving. The bill authorized primary enforcement, which would have allowed an officer to stop and ticket a driver for using a hand held phone without being required to observe another offense – such as weaving — first. A conviction for this offense would have resulted in a $125 fine.
In addition to concerns that the proposed law would be too intrusive on citizens, the bill was also criticized in the legislature for a provision that would have made it impermissible to consider a driver’s cell phone use as a factor when determining negligence in a personal injury lawsuit. Because of this provision, the defeat of this bill may actually be good news for anyone injured by a driver who was distracted while using a cell phone.
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, please feel free to call us at 504-581-6411 or 855-GERTLER. We would be happy to answer your questions.