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Texting and Driving Accidents in Texas

Houston car accident attorneys discuss the dangers of distracted driving

Texting has become an extremely popular method of communication for people of all ages. Most people in the country now have smartphones, and many send texts throughout the day to make plans with friends, share information, or check in with loved ones. Texting is a fast, efficient, and easy way to reach out to others and has become second nature for many people.

That’s why some people think nothing of texting while they are driving. But that’s when texting becomes a serious problem – one that is extremely dangerous, and sometimes deadly. Most states now have laws specifically banning the behavior.

Texting while driving has been against the law in Texas since 2017. Violators face a fine of $25 to $99 for a first offense and up to $200 for subsequent offenses. But it remains a traffic safety issue. Distracted driving was the cause of nearly 1 in 5 accidents on Texas roads in 2020. These accidents resulted in 367 deaths and 2,205 injuries.

Texting is one of the most common sources of distraction for drivers, and also one of the most dangerous. Driving is an activity that requires the driver’s full attention. The NHTSA estimates that reading a text or sending one takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 5 seconds. Some drivers don’t see that as a big deal. But within those five seconds:

  • At 55 mph, a vehicle can travel the length of a football field.
  • A car can pull out on the road in front of the driver.
  • A pedestrian can walk into the road.
  • The vehicle in front can stop suddenly.

By the time the driver realizes what is happening, there often isn’t enough time to react to prevent a bad car accident.

The cost of texting and driving accidents

A texting driver can cause a rear-end accident, side-impact crash, or head-on collision. The consequences can be devastating for the driver and passengers of a vehicle that was hit, as well as any pedestrians who were involved. The damages victims of a texting and driving accident can suffer can include:

  • Medical expenses – These may include ambulance costs, diagnostic tests, X-rays and MRIs, surgical procedures, medication, and physical therapy. Some victims may require home healthcare and multiple follow-up visits with doctors.
  • Lost wages – An injury can prevent victims from being able to work for some time, resulting in a loss of income.
  • Loss of earning capacity – If a victim is unable to ever return to work because of injuries sustained in the accident, they lose the future income they would have earned.
  • Property damage – This typically involves the damage to a victim’s motor vehicle but can also include damage to other types of property.

Victims can also suffer other types of damages such as pain and suffering, mental or emotional pain or anguish, disfigurement, and loss of enjoyment of life. While these damages don’t have a specific dollar value attached to them, they are very real and victims have the right to seek compensation.

What to do after being injured in a texting and driving accident

First, take steps to protect your safety and your health. Call the police so they can secure the scene and conduct an initial investigation. Get medical attention, even if you think you are fine. The police and healthcare workers can also document your accident and your injuries. This documentation can be very valuable if you are seeking financial compensation.

If you are able to, take photos of the accident scene. Gather the names and contact information of the other driver and any witnesses. But even if the driver was clearly texting, don’t discuss who was at fault. That can be sorted out later. Report the accident to your insurance company. When you get a moment, write down your account of what happened.

Next, talk to an experienced car accident attorney.

An attorney can review the details of your crash, answer your questions, and go over your legal options for recovering compensation. Most car accident attorneys offer a free consultation and work on a contingency fee basis. They don’t get paid until they recover financial compensation for you.

How can I prove the other driver was texting?

A lawyer will have the resources to investigate your accident to look for evidence that the other driver was texting. This evidence can come from:

  • Phone records – An attorney can seek access to the driver’s records with a cell phone service provider to determine if there were any messages sent just before the crash.
  • Witness testimony – There may have been witnesses to the accident who saw the driver looking at a phone while behind the wheel.
  • Police reports – If the police were called to the scene, they will fill out an accident report that contains important details about what happened. These details may include phone use by the driver.
  • Video – Depending on where the crash occurred, there may be video evidence of a driver texting taken from traffic cameras, smartphones, or other devices.
  • Accident reconstruction experts – These experts are skilled at studying all evidence taken from a crash and determining how it happened.

Your attorney will also review your medical records to determine the total amount of damages you suffered as a result of the accident.

Recovering financial compensation

Gathering evidence to prove a driver was texting is important because it helps establish fault. Insurance companies may try to put some of the blame for the accident on you. Why? Because it can help them save money. Under Texas law, if you are found to be less than 51% at fault for the crash, any compensation you are awarded will be reduced by your percentage of fault.

A strong case that helps establish the other driver was texting at the time of the accident can convince an insurance company it is in their best interests to reach a fair settlement for your losses. Your attorney can then negotiate with the insurance company on a settlement that meets your needs and covers the damages you suffered.

Car accident cases involving drivers who were texting can be complicated. It’s important to be represented by a law firm that has experience, extensive legal knowledge, and a record of getting results in complex cases. Contact Smith & Hassler, Attorneys at Law to schedule a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Click here to download a printable PDF of this article, "Texting and Driving Accidents in Texas."

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