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Proving Liability in a Texas Distracted Driving Case

Posted on Sunday, May 27th, 2018 at 6:42 am    

If you have been hit by another driver and suspect that the driver wasn’t concentrating at the time, how can you prove it? It’s all very well being told that personal injury claims can only succeed if there is sufficient proof that you were not to blame and that it is your responsibility to show that the other driver was negligent, but how do you do it? The good news is that while it is not always possible to prove that the driver who hit you was a distracted driver, in many cases it may be possible, but you will need the help of an experienced and dedicated car accident attorney.

Distracted driving is one of the most common reasons for car accidents in Texas

Statistics held by the Texas Department of Transport (TxDOT) for 2017 show that there were a total of 537,475 traffic crashes. Of this total number it has been estimated that 19%, nearly 110,000, involved some kind of distracted driving. Of these distracted driving accidents, there were 2,889 people with serious injuries and 444 fatalities.

Distracted driving in Texas is defined as driving when the driver fails to concentrate sufficiently on their driving because of something that is taking up their attention. Many distracted driving crashes happen because the driver is using a cell phone, making or taking a call or texting, but there are other distractions while driving, too. Here are some examples:

  • eating or drinking;
  • talking to a passenger;
  • dealing with an annoying flying insect;
  • adjusting or programming a GPS system;
  • grooming;
  • reading a magazine, book or newspaper;
  • staring out of the side window.

Because of persistent accounts of cell phone use by drivers, the Texas state government finally passed a law last year (2017) banning the use of cell phones for texting while driving. However, law enforcement has not resulted in many citations, despite research which has revealed that more than 80% of Texan drivers actually admit to have used their cell phone for calls or text messages while driving at some time.

Checking a driver’s cell phone records may be possible

If you have been hit by another driver and believe that the driver was texting or making a call just before you were hit and that this caused your injuries, you may be able to make a personal injury claim against the driver. Proving that the driver was using a cell phone may not seem easy. If police can’t catch drivers doing it, how could you? The answer is that your attorney may make a legitimate request for the other driver’s cell phone records to the insurance adjuster dealing with the claim during discovery. If the driver refuses to give permission, or the insurer is unwilling to co-operate, then the attorney has the option of filing a subpoena. Subpoenas are legal requests for information. Generally, if the case seems to rest on phone records then the sub-poena request will be granted. The records may then determine once and for all whether the driver was actually using the cell phone at the time of the crash or just before it.

Heads Up, Texas!

The Texas DOT is well aware of the human misery caused by distracted driving and has been campaigning to convince Texan drivers to change their ingrained habits. A recent campaign launched this year is called HeadsUp, Texas! The slogan is based on the fact that drivers who have their heads down while driving are probably texting (or asleep!). In fact, police are on the look-out for drivers with their heads down, but have had little success so far in dealing with the problem. The Texas DOT is also telling Texans to use their common sense when dealing with a call on their phone or an urgent need to send a message. The main advice is to turn off the phone while driving or pull over somewhere safe to deal with it.

If you have been hit by a distracted driver in or around San Antonio and are considering filing a personal injury claim, contact a San Antonio Personal Injury attorney at 833-210-4878.