Distracted Driving Accident Claims Involving Smart Phones: Pursuing or Defending Litigation

Conducting Pre-Suit Investigations and Discovery, Leveraging Expert Witnesses, Vicarious Liability Considerations

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Recorded event now available

This CLE webinar will provide counsel with a review of increasing litigation over distracted driving accidents involving smart phones. The panel will provide an overview of state approaches to regulation of device use while driving and outline strategies for pursuing or defending distracted driving claims.


According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,477 people were killed and 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2015 alone. Driving while using smart phones to talk, text, email or browse social media sites is all too common and greatly increases the chances of an accident occurring.

Public awareness of injury and fatality rates caused by distracted driving combined with increased state legislation restricting the use of mobile devices while driving has led to a wave of public injury lawsuits by victims of distracted driving. Bringing or defending claims alleging distracted driving requires special considerations, especially during investigation and discovery.

Electronic devices uniquely offer the potential of detailed records that may be subject to discovery. Interrogatories, requests for production, and recruitment of experts must be tailored to address issues of functionality and the impact on safety. Vicarious liability issues involving parents and employers must also be explored.

Listen as our panel of experienced personal injury attorneys discusses the latest developments in distracted driving claims involving smart phones and a review of related state legislation. The panel will outline strategies for conducting pre-suit investigations and discovery, and recruiting expert witnesses, as well as important considerations for potential employer or parental liability.


  1. Distracted driving state and federal laws and regulations
  2. Distracted driving civil liability cases
    1. Initial considerations
      1. Case intake
      2. Investigation/evidence preservation
      3. Expert witnesses
    2. Pleading the case—elements and amendments
    3. Distracted driving discovery
      1. Written discovery
      2. Depositions
    4. Settlements and verdicts
  3. Vicarious liability of employers or parents
    1. Initial considerations—policies, procedures, protocols
    2. Commercial vehicles—evidence preservation
    3. Pleading the case—elements and amendments
    4. Discovery
      1. Written discovery
      2. Corporate depositions
    5. Settlements and verdicts—maximizing your case


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • What kind of accident-related records should be obtained during investigations and discovery—both from the smart phone itself and from connected companies and servicers?
  • What issues of direct and vicarious liability should be investigated?
  • Are there possibilities for presenting or defending contributory negligence claims?
  • What are the state and federal rules and regulations affecting smart phone use by drivers?


Steven M. Gursten, Atty
Michigan Auto Law, Farmington Hills, Mich.

Mr. Gursten focuses his practice on serious auto and truck accident injury and wrongful death cases. He frequently lectures at legal seminars throughout the country on trial advocacy, trucking litigation, and traumatic brain injury cases. He has recovered the top-reported jury verdict for a car or truck accident in Michigan for multiple years, according to published reports. He serves as President of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and a Past Chair of the American Association (AAJ) for Justice Truck Accident Litigation Group. 

Jacob J. Liro, Partner
Wicker Smith O'Hara McCoy & Ford, Miami

Mr. Liro focuses his defense litigation practice in the areas of construction, transportation, professional malpractice, employment and catastrophic injury. He is a member of the firm's Transportation Practice Group and is on their Transportation Rapid Response Team. He is frequent author and presenter on automobile negligence, among other topics.


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