Flint & Soyars PC
Legal Options After a Texting and Driving Car Accident
A National Crisis
What do a twenty-one-year-old construction worker headed to a temporary job, a twelve-year-old boy on an errand with his mother, and a thirty-five-year-old off-duty police officer have in common? They are part of a tragic group of national statistics that represents fatalities of distracted driving.
In all three cases, the operator of the other vehicle involved in the accident was operating a mobile device at the time of the accident. While the real-life accidents described above happened across the country, Texas is certainly no stranger to similar tragedies.
Records going back to 2011 show that on average, thousands of accidents occur annually in Texas that are directly attributable to the driver at fault having been distracted by using a mobile device.
A Crisis That Isn’t Improving
But, you may be thinking, in addition to hearing a lot about this horrible kind of accident, I’m also hearing a lot about laws that have been or that are about to be passed, to stop this kind of behavior.
Surely, these horrible statistics are dropping? However, a study conducted by the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT), showed that in one year alone (2011), more than three thousand people were in vehicle accidents as a direct result of distracted driving, either as passengers in a vehicle being driven by a distracted driver, or as a result of coming into contact with one.
And while some of these accidents were caused by “traditional” methods like “light in the eyes” or “kids fighting in the backseat”, a disturbing number of them were caused by a driver having a conversation or reading and writing (texting) with a mobile device prior to the accident.
A few years after the release of the TXDOT study, a National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration study indicated that highway fatalities during 2014-2015 were up eight percent nationally overall.
While other factors like low gas prices and nice weather may have played a role here, many safety and law enforcement experts pointed fingers at texting while driving.
A Crisis That’s Deadlier Than Drunken Driving
If you’re thinking that reading and writing while driving, an activity that requires the vehicle operator to be looking directly at the road at all times while operating the vehicle is a bad idea, you’d certainly get no complaint from the experts.
You are six times more likely to get into a car accident while texting and driving than you are while operating a motor vehicle intoxicated. Driving a car is an activity that requires extreme mental concentration.
Research has shown that while texting, drivers are taking far longer to read and send messages than they think they are, and during that time, their eyes are not where they should be.
So since drivers are bad at both multi-tasking and unfortunately, texting self-control, the law will protect us from those texting while driving, correct?
A Crisis That’s Being Slow To Be Resolved
Yes and no. Despite pressure from both parties of an otherwise partisan Congress, no national laws currently exist to address this type of distracted driving.
A number of states have drafted such restrictions, many of them amended in recent years to address growing problems with texting while driving. But distracted driving laws vary greatly state by state. Texas has no state-wide cell-phone driving law, unless one is a novice driver.
However, communities can establish their own regulations, and more than sixty jurisdictions across the state have approved ordinances forbidding the use of hand-held devices while driving, texting while driving, or using mobile devices in a school zone for drivers of all ages and classes.
Fines range from two to five hundred dollars, and depend on the community the infraction occurs in. Some Texas communities continue to have no driving and device prohibitions at all.
Defending Yourself Against Device-Distracted Drivers
Since Texas legislators seem to be reluctant to issue regulations concerning texting and driving, it’s not surprising that busy law enforcement officers in some communities don’t feel that apprehending texting scofflaws is a priority.
In any case, it’s difficult to prove that a driver was texting, looking at GPS, playing Candy Crush, or watching a movie instead of the road. This means drivers have to protect themselves against those who text and otherwise while driving.
This can be accomplished by driving defensively, and keeping a keen eye peeled for drivers who swerve unexpectedly into other lanes, drive well below posted speed limits, ignore stop and other warning signs, and are oblivious to changing traffic signals.
They can abstain from texting themselves while driving, refuse to be the passengers of those who do, and monitor their children’s own cell phone and driving use, and always present them with the best examples.
But unfortunately, even being proactive won’t always protect one from being the victim of a texting driver. Victims finding themselves in such situations may well need the services of a Texas personal injury lawyer.
Why Protecting Yourself After Such An Accident Can Be Difficult
To the victims of a “texting car accident”, the facts seem pretty obvious. But as a Texarkana car accident lawyer could tell them, things are not quite that simple.
Texas’s sporadically enforced “texting and driving laws” mean that victims can’t expect compensation from a law with lesser penalties than some traffic violations.
But that doesn’t mean that victims of such accidents don’t experience real pain and suffering. And those problems don’t end after impact. After a Texting and Driving Car Accident often include repair expenses, lost income, and medical problems. Some of these unfortunately remain issues for years.
But, you’re thinking, that’s why we have auto insurance. Surely their policies pay for damages in this type of accident. And indeed they do. But remember, insurance companies are huge, for profit companies that aren’t going to make payments unless they absolutely have to.
It’s the job of insurance investigators not just to collect facts, but to dispute the cause of accidents to avoid these payouts. When they do agree to make these payouts (called settlements), it’s their job to convince victims to take as small a settlement as possible.
In many cases, pressured, frightened, victims agree to settlements worth thousands less than what they were entitled to.
How Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help
And texting while driving accidents can often offer opportunities for insurance investigators to dispute the cause of an accident, especially if there are no independent witnesses to it.
In such cases, the help of an El Dorado car accident lawyer can be invaluable. Such attorneys can interview witnesses, review official law enforcement documents, and work with experts to reconstruct accident scenes and collect evidence.
It’s been said that there are three real witnesses to an accident involving texting while driving: the operator of each vehicle, and the device being used for texting.
You can’t issue a request for the driver’s device to be examined to see if it was used in such a way that contributed to your accident.
But your lawyer, as an officer of the court, can. And your attorney can also file paperwork, schedule court dates, deal with insurance companies for you, and assist you with getting money for medical and living expenses as your case pends, as well.
Contact Us Today For A Consultation
As wonderful as the digital highway is, it’s impossible to constantly avoid irresponsible drivers on it. And while more and more Texas communities are continually adding device and driving laws to protect motorists and passengers, it’s a big state.
If you or a loved one finds yourselves in the unfortunate situation of being victims of such an accident, don’t hesitate to call a Texarkana car accident lawyer or personal injury lawyer.
He or she will help you in the aftermath of such an accident, and get you back on the literal road again as quickly as possible.