The dangers of texting while driving are a fruitful source and typical topic of discovery in all motor vehicle cases. After all, if texting or cell-phone usage can be proven, the odds of proving distracted driving (and thus a better negligence case) also increase. One issue that has recently arisen is whether proof of texting opens the texter to a punitive damages claim. In Pennsylvania, the answer might be “yes.” In the case of Deringer v. Li, an Allegheny trial court judge has recently suggested, in an unpublished decision, that texting might rise to the level of recklessness (as opposed to mere negligence) and thus open the texter to a punitive damages claim. We shall have to see if this decision is followed or endorsed by other Pennsylvania courts.
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