Cell phones have made it easier for people to stay connected and to access data while on the go. However, cell phones can cause car accidents, whether the driver is using them to talk or to text. And while many states, including Illinois, have passed bans on the use of cell phones while driving, doing so has not been able to halt the use of cell phones while driving.
Consequently, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is looking for other strategies to halt the use of cell phones while driving. Last week it suggested that insurance companies could help limit this widespread problem if they simply refused to pay out for accident claims caused by drivers texting or talking on their cell phones.
And while the NTSB’s idea makes sense and even seems like it could work, insurance companies are not jumping on board. To explain their reluctance to adopt the NTSB’s suggestions, insurance companies explained that one of the main reasons to have insurance is that insurance companies will cover the cost of injuries even if the auto accident is caused by careless or even reckless behavior. And as an insurance specialist and spokesperson for the Consumer Federation of America said, “An accident is an accident.”
A spokesperson for State Farm echoed these sentiments when explaining that an insurance company will pay for a car accident even if the driver is found to be intoxicated or otherwise impaired. And if an insurance company will pay for accidents caused by a DUI, then it seems unlikely that they would refuse to pay out on a car accident caused by texting or talking on a cell phone, especially as it relates to those injured by another driver’s negligence.
Take for example a pedestrian walking in a crosswalk who is hit by a driver who is texting while driving. It is difficult to imagine the insurance company refusing to pay for the innocent pedestrian’s injuries simply because its client was texting. So while the NTSB’s suggestion seems logical, when you begin to examine it more thoroughly, it becomes clear that it will not only punish the guilty drivers, but also the innocent victims.
So even if the law prohibits drivers from using of cell phones while driving, insurance companies will still cover damages that arise out of these types of car accidents. Regardless of whether a driver is drunk, texting, or otherwise distracted, insurance companies will still pay the cost of injuries or damages arising out of that negligence. To do so is the whole point of insurance.
However, insurance companies are not philanthropists, but rather are companies whose main goal is to make money off the service they provide. Therefore, drivers who routinely engage in such risky behaviors as talking or texting on their cell phones will find that their insurance rates go up. Therefore, while these negligent drivers might not be liable for the full costs of their accidents, they will be responsible for paying higher insurance rates than those drivers who follow the law.
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois automobile accidents matters for individuals and families for more than 35 years in and around Chicago, Cook County, and surrounding areas, including Orland Park, Tinley Park, Summit, Naperville, and Elk Grove Village.
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