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Proving Distracted Driving Accident Claims in Court

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for civil law.jpegMost people agree that using a smartphone or other device while driving is dangerous. Yet many people admit they routinely engage in such behavior.

In response to this environment, Texas lawmakers approved a limited cell phone ban in 2017. But as outlined below, this law only goes so far. As a result, there are still many distracted drivers on Parker County streets and highways.

These crash victims often sustain serious injuries, such as broken bones, whiplash, and head injuries. So, they may be entitled to compensation for their economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Negligence Per Se and Distracted Driving

The aforementioned law basically only applies to texting while driving. "Texting" is broadly defined as any written electronic communication, such as text messages, emails, and social media posts. So, if the driver is engaging in prohibited behavior at or near the moment of the crash, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) may be liable for damages as a matter of law.

It does not matter if the tortfeasor "beats" the charges in court or the ticket is dismissed for some other reason. In a civil case, the jury determines all the facts, including guilt or innocence of a traffic violation.

Ordinary Negligence and Distracted Driving

Negligence per se claims are easy to prove in court. But this doctrine only applies if emergency responders gave the tortfeasor a citation. Officers often issue citations like these to help insurance companies determine fault. But in a serious injury crash, responders may be more concerned with tending to injured victims and securing the scene than in helping the insurance company decide whose rates to raise.

Additionally, as mentioned, Texas' cell phone ban is limited. It does not apply to web surfing, picture taking, Facetiming, recording video, or any other smartphone activity. The law also does not apply to using a hands-free device. There is considerable evidence that hands-free devices are just as distracting as hand-held ones. They may be even worse.

In these situations, victims may rely on ordinary negligence. Drivers have a duty of reasonable care. That duty requires them to drive defensively and avoid accidents if possible. Using any wireless device in any way arguably violates that duty of care. Evidence on this point includes:

  • Web surfing log,

  • Call history,

  • Text message log, and

  • Phone usage history.

Tortfeasors can easily destroy this evidence with just a few taps. So, a Weatherford personal injury attorney must immediately send a spoliation letter to the tortfeasor. This letter prevents the tortfeasor from "accidentally" destroying physical evidence, such as cell phone use records.

Distracted driving crash victims have several legal options. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Weatherford, contact Herreth Law. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no money or insurance.

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