In 2016, distracted driving contributed to 8,210 crashes in Tarrant County alone. Twenty-three people lost their lives that year and hundreds more suffered incapacitating injuries because careless drivers decided another activity was more important than safe driving. Distracted driving accidents are incredibly tragic because they are so easy to prevent. A text, the last fry in the bag, or finding the right radio station on your mobile device can wait.
When distracted drivers cause devastating accidents around Fort Worth, the attorneys at The Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert are here to help. We have seen how distracted driving behaviors ruin the lives of those who cause accidents and those who suffer from them. Our ultimate goal is to use our legal skills to reduce the total number of distracted driving accidents on Texas roadways. If you suffered from a distracted driving accident, you deserve compensation for your losses and the opportunity to discourage dangerous distracted driving behavior in the future.
What Is Distracted Driving?
Many people associate texting or mobile phone use with distracted driving. While mobile device use accounts for a large portion of distracted driving incidents, other behaviors also fall under the category of distracted driving. Some of the most common types of distracted driving include eating while driving, reaching for an object in the vehicle, manipulating vehicle radios and navigation systems, and putting on makeup while driving.
When you travel at speeds of 50 mph or faster and take your eyes off the road for a matter of seconds, you can travel hundreds of feet. In that time, you could miss an obstacle in the road, veer into an oncoming traffic lane, or run a red light. Anything that takes your attention away from the task at hand increases the likelihood of an accident.
Texting While Driving Accidents
Texting is one of the most dangerous distractions behind the wheel for any driver of any age or experience level. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported more than 3,400 deaths in 2016 alone from distracted driving and texting while driving remains one of the leading causes of distracted driving deaths throughout the United States.
Texting behind the wheel is so dangerous because it encompasses the three main types of distractions into a single act.
- Manual distractions are things that require the driver to take his or her hands off the steering wheel or vehicle controls, such as typing a message on a cell phone.
- Visual distractions are things that divert a driver’s eyes away from the road, such as looking at a cell phone to read a text message.
- Cognitive distractions are things that divert a driver’s attention away from driving, such as thinking about a text conversation instead of driving.
Drivers should do their best to eliminate distractions behind the wheel, and this especially applies to cell phone use. It is best to connect a hands-free device to answer calls if necessary for work, but Texas law does allow drivers to talk on cell phones. Ultimately, it is best for drivers to keep their phones silent while driving and only use them when parked safely.
Texas Ban on Texting and Driving
As of September 1, 2017, texting while driving is completely illegal in Texas. Violations of the new texting and driving ban may only lead to small fines and misdemeanor charges for first-time offenders if they do not cause accidents. However, a driver convicted of texting and driving and causing a serious accident that causes injury or death to another person faces fines up to $4,000 and up to one year in prison.
In addition to criminal charges from the state for texting while driving violations, a driver who does cause an accident due to texting behind the wheel is liable for any civil damages resulting from such actions.
- A plaintiff who files a civil suit against a driver for an accident caused by texting while driving can claim his or her medical expenses as damages in the lawsuit. This includes both immediate and future medical costs for all injuries resulting from the accident.
- Plaintiffs can also claim compensation for their property damage, such as the repair bill for a damaged vehicle or the replacement cost for a destroyed vehicle.
- A plaintiff may qualify for lost income compensation if his or her injuries required missing work for an extended period. In the event a serious accident causes a severe injury that leads to a permanent disability and the victim can no longer work, testimony from an expert witness may help prove the extent of his or her lost earning capacity and lead to compensation for lost future wages.
- Plaintiffs in personal injury cases may receive compensation for their pain and suffering based on the jury’s assessment of the facts in the case and testimony from expert witnesses.
How to Prove the Driver Who Hit You Was Texting
If a texting driver caused your accident and you know or suspect that he or she was texting behind the wheel, the burden of proof rests on the plaintiff so it is up to you and your Fort Worth distracted driving attorney to prove that the at-fault driver was indeed texting while driving. This may require a subpoena for the defendant’s phone records, securing footage from traffic cameras that covered the scene of the accident, or testimony from eyewitnesses who may have spotted the defendant using his or her phone behind the wheel.
Your Distracted Driving Accident Attorneys in Fort Worth
Vehicle accident cases are time-sensitive. Evidence and memory of the incident fade quickly. Talk to a local distracted driving attorney at The Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert as soon after your incident as possible to better understand your options for recovery. Without physical evidence of the distraction, we must often rely on police reports and witness accounts to prove a distraction contributed to the incident. Our attorneys know where to look to find evidence of distractions. We can help you hold careless and dangerous drivers accountable for their poor driving decisions.
If you were involved in a distracted driving accident in Fort Worth, reach out to us at (214) 200-4878 for a free consultation. We will work tirelessly to protect your right to compensation after injurious and deadly vehicle accidents.