With the increased dependence on our phones for communication, social interaction, work-related messages, entertainment, and directions, distracted driving has become a major problem on the roadways of Houston, TX. If you were injured in a car crash that was caused by a distracted driver, you may be wondering, “where can I find a car accident attorney near me?” Texas has very specific traffic laws, so you will want to find a knowledgeable attorney who can help you build your case.
Why Is Using a Cell Phone While Driving So Dangerous?
Numerous studies have proven that the human brain is not proficient at multitasking. Rather than focusing on multiple tasks at once, such as sending a text message and getting through an intersection, our minds alternate between the different activities we are engaged in. If a dangerous situation arises at a time when a driver is focused on something other than the road, the consequences can be deadly.
Activities like texting and checking Facebook messages are especially dangerous because they require the driver to take his or her eyes off the road. While mounting a cell phone on the car’s dashboard is slightly safer than keeping it in a place where the driver would have to look down to use it, completely eliminating the danger of using a cell phone on the road is impossible.
What Laws Regulate Cell Phone Usage While Driving?
The technology of hand-held devices is evolving quickly, and the rules pertaining to using a phone while driving are changing as we become more aware of the risks. The best way to understand whether or not the driver who hit you was breaking the law at the time of the accident is to speak with a personal injury lawyer who is familiar with the most recent legislation. In the meantime, here are some recent guidelines:
Texting and Driving
Texting while operating a vehicle that is in motion is one of the most egregious forms of distracted driving. In Texas, sending or receiving electronic messages while driving is illegal.
Exceptions are made if the driver was sending an emergency text or if he or she was stopped at a red light. However, failing to notice when the light turns green is considered a violation that can result in a ticket. Sending a message via voice-to-text technology as opposed to typing out the words is acceptable. These exceptions are not recognized universally throughout Texas, so your lawyer should look into the local laws pertaining to your case.
Other Forms of Cell Phone Usage
It is still legal to use a hand-held device for music and navigation, even if the vehicle does not have a built-in infotainment center. Again, local laws may vary in their guidelines for these types of usage.
Talking on the Phone
If a driver makes a voice call while operating a vehicle, he or she must use the hands-free mode unless the reason for the call is a 911 emergency. Drivers under 18 and individuals holding a learner’s permit are not allowed to use their phones manually or in hands-free mode.
Other laws in Texas regulate specific situations pertaining to cell phone usage. For example, in a school zone, any form of cell phone usage is illegal unless there is a 911 emergency. Also, bus drivers are never allowed to text or talk on their phones, even in hands-free mode. Your lawyer can comb through the legislation looking for specific rules such as these that might help you argue that the driver who hit you violated the law.
I Saw the Other Driver Using a Cell Phone: How Can I Prove They Were Driving Distracted?
If you were involved in a car accident and you suspect that the other driver was using a cell phone, you could be eligible to collect monetary compensation for your damages. Unlike in some states, Texas courts determine who pays for the accident by trying to understand which driver was at fault. If both drivers contributed to the crash but one was more to blame, he or she can be ordered to pay a percentage of the damages.
If you have evidence that the other driver was distracted, you may have grounds to argue that he or she was at fault. Even if other evidence indicates that you were at fault, showing that the other driver was distracted can help demonstrate that you were not entirely responsible for the accident. Presenting evidence is a process that needs to happen according to legal guidelines, otherwise, your case may not hold up in court. A lawyer may advise you to:
Check Surveillance Footage
If the accident happened under the watch of security cameras, they may have captured images of the other driver using his or her phone. Your lawyer can help you identify whether or not the site of the accident was being monitored. If it was, he or she will help you request the footage.
Get Witness Statements
Surveillance footage is not always available after an accident occurs, however, witness testimonies also constitute valuable evidence. If you were able to get the contact information of anyone who saw the accident take place, they may be able to say whether or not the other driver appeared to be talking on the phone or looking down at a message when the accident happened.
Subpoena Records From the Cellular Service Provider
Cellular service providers keep records of the exact times their customers place calls and exchange texts. By subpoenaing information from the other driver’s phone company, your lawyer may be able to show a match between the time of the accident and activity on the other driver’s phone.
Check the Police Report
Sometimes, at-fault drivers will voluntarily admit that they were allowing themselves to become distracted by their phones. When an admission of guilt occurs, it is often noted in the police report. If the officers who responded to your accident wrote that the other driver admitted to cell phone usage, the official report can be used as evidence in your favor.
Why Is It Important to Prove Fault in an Accident?
Pursuing compensation for your damages to the fullest extent of the law can result in an insurance settlement or a court-ordered payout that can go a long way toward helping you recover. Accidents can be more costly than they appear at first, and your injuries might require expensive treatments. On top of the medical expenses, you may have to spend more time away from work than you initially thought.
The risks of using a phone while driving are widely known. Therefore, when a driver refuses to limit his or her cellular activity to tasks that can be accomplished in the hands-free mode, he or she knowingly puts others at risk. You should not have to pay out of pocket for another individual’s bad judgment. If the other driver is found responsible for your accident, you could be entitled to monetary compensation for the following damages:
- Medical bills
- Transportation to and from medical facilities
- Equipment needed for at-home treatment
- Current and future lost wages
- Noneconomic damages
How Can I Find a Car Accident Attorney Near Me in Houston, TX?
If you would like to review your case with an experienced personal injury attorney, you can schedule a free consultation with one of our legal professionals. As one of the most long-standing firms in the state, we know Texas law to the letter. To make an appointment or request more information, contact Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner.