Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer in Mesquite
Helping Injured Clients Stand Up for Their Rights
According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), at least one in every five crashes is caused by distracted driving, with the main cause of distraction being electronic devices and activities such as texting while driving. The state has recently passed legislation addressing distracted driving and prescribing serious penalties for drivers who fail to keep their eyes on the road.
Does Texas Have Any Distracted Driving Laws?
In 2019, a new law became effective in the state of Texas, specifically prohibiting drivers from using portable wireless communication devices for electronic messaging while operating a motor vehicle. In other words, texting while driving is illegal in Texas. Unless a driver’s vehicle is parked or the driver is using a hands-free device, texting while driving is considered a misdemeanor in Texas.
In addition, new drivers who still have a learner’s permit may not use a cell phone during the first six months of driving. Licensed drivers under 18 may not use any handheld devices. The law also prohibits drivers from using any handheld device while driving through a school zone. School bus drivers are also prohibited from using handheld electronic devices while driving a school bus, especially if children are present.
It is worth noting that distracted driving can happen for a variety of reasons besides the use of a smartphone or electronic device. Activities such as eating, drinking, talking to a passenger, applying makeup, reaching or looking for something in the cabin, getting distracted while looking at something on the side of the road, adjusting the radio, and even daydreaming can all result in a driver’s attention being taken away from the task of driving and potentially leading to serious accidents. While Texas’ distracted driving laws specifically address the use of electronic devices and texting while driving, a driver who engages in other types of distracted driving and causes an accident may also be deemed at fault and may be financially responsible for the other party’s damages and injuries.
What Are the Penalties for Distracted Driving in Texas?
The new distracted driving laws in Texas come with significant penalties for drivers who insist on texting while driving or engaging in any other activities that would constitute distracted driving. For a first offense, the driver may be charged with a misdemeanor and be ordered to pay a fine that ranges from $25.00 to $99.00. For any subsequent offenses, the fine is increased to a maximum of $200.
However, if the driver causes death or serious bodily injury to another person, that driver may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. This is a criminal offense that may be punishable by a fine of up to $4,000.00 and up to one year in jail. There may also be other consequences, such as license suspension or points added to a driver’s record, which in turn could lead to higher insurance rates and could make it harder to take advantage of job opportunities that require a clean driving record.
What Are My Rights if I Was Hurt in an Accident Caused by a Distracted Driver?
If you were injured in a car crash caused by a distracted driver, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your injuries and financial losses. In most cases, the at-fault driver’s insurance company may be financially responsible for your losses, and you may file an insurance claim to obtain compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, damaged property (including your vehicle), pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
However, in some cases, you may discover that the distracted driver who caused your injuries was underinsured or did not carry any auto insurance at all. If that is the case, you may be able to reach out to your own auto insurance company to see if you may file a claim for your damages. You may also consider speaking to a distracted driving accident attorney to discuss the possibility of taking legal action and initiating a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent driver in order to recover compensation for your distracted driving accident case.
Can I Still Get Compensation if I Was Partially at Fault for My Accident?
The state of Texas follows a modified comparative negligence rule to help determine liability for accidents that result in losses and injuries, including distracted driving accidents. The rule allows you to recover compensation for your losses as long as you are not 50% at fault for your own accident.
In other words, if you are 35% at fault because you were also distracted, for example, you may still recover payment for your damages, but the amount you receive may be reduced by 30%. If you are 50% at fault or more, you may be barred from seeking any compensation. This is a good reason to get the help of a skilled personal injury lawyer. A lawyer can help you minimize your percentage of liability and thus maximize the amount of compensation you may be eligible to receive, even if you are partially at fault for your own damages.
At the Oberg Law Office, injured clients in Mesquite and surrounding areas can get the strong legal representation they deserve. If you were hurt in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, there is no reason to try and figure it all out on your own, especially if you need to go up against an insurance carrier that is not willing to cooperate and is probably looking for reasons to deny your claim or pay you as little as possible. The attorneys at the Oberg Law Office can handle every aspect of your case so you can get the settlement you deserve. Call our law firm at 972-672-9700 for a free case review.