Distracted driving has become a leading cause of car accidents, and if you’re involved in such an incident, proving the other driver wasn’t paying attention is crucial to your claim. Work with a Buffalo, TX and Caldwell, TX lawyer with extensive experience when you bring a car accident lawsuit that asserts distracted driving by the other driver.
Identifying Distracted Driving: What Counts?
The first step in proving distraction is understanding what it entails. Distracted driving isn’t just about texting. It can include eating, using a GPS, adjusting the radio, or anything else that takes the driver’s focus off the road, and Texas law has been increasingly stringent in its efforts to curb this type of dangerous behavior.
General Distracted Driving
Texas law has strict limits on cell phone usage while driving, but many people are unaware that the law actually also prohibits things like eating while driving. The police cannot pull over a driver only for eating, but if the driver is pulled over for any other reason, a ticket for eating while driving can be issued. Anything can constitute a distraction if it affects a driver’s ability to control their vehicle safely.
If a driver is found to be distracted enough by any activity, such as eating, to the point that it impairs their driving, they could be stopped by law enforcement and penalized for distracted driving or even reckless driving. If the police issue this type of penalty at the accident scene, it will go a long way to helping you prove distracted driving.
Texting and Handheld Device Use
The law prohibits reading, writing, or sending electronic messages while driving except under very specific circumstances, such as emergencies or by certain emergency first responders. However, it is legal for drivers to text when their vehicle is stopped, such as at a traffic light or stop sign, and it is allowed to use certain hands-free devices to communicate.
Certain drivers are subject to more stringent restrictions. Drivers under the age of 18 and those driving with learner’s permits are forbidden from using wireless communication devices at all while driving, except in emergencies.
Whether a driver’s behavior will qualify as distracted driving will depend in large part on precisely what they were doing and how it affected the accident: it can be complicated, especially as various municipalities in Texas have unique rules. A good car accident lawyer with extensive experience and expertise in both state and local Texas law is absolutely necessary for proving the other party’s liability.
Gathering Evidence to Prove Distraction
Right after the accident, if you’re able to do so safely, gather as much evidence as possible. Take photos of the scene, look for witnesses, and if you saw the other driver on their phone or engaging in other distracting activities, make a note of it immediately.
If the other driver was using their phone, your attorney might be able to obtain a subpoena for their cell phone records to prove they were texting or calling at the time of the accident. Traffic and dashcam footage can also be invaluable in showing what the driver was doing just before the collision.
Witness Accounts and Police Reports
Eyewitnesses can be critical in corroborating your account of the other driver’s distraction. People who were at the scene, such as pedestrians or other motorists, might have a clear view of the driver’s actions. If you’re able, talk with anyone nearby after an accident and get their contact information. Your lawyer can approach them in a winsome way and ask for their help.
Always call the police to the scene of the accident. The officers will file a report, which may include their observations or findings regarding distraction. And if the other driver was cited for distracted driving at the scene, this would significantly bolster your claim.
The Challenge of Proving Distraction
Directly proving distraction can be difficult, since there may not be immediate, direct evidence, meaning it often comes down to one person’s word against another’s. By piecing together evidence, such as erratic driving behavior and eyewitness accounts, your lawyer may be able to build a strong case to prove the other driver was distracted.
Sometimes, there’s indirect evidence that can imply distraction, like the lack of skid marks, which could indicate that the driver didn’t brake before a collision when a normal driver would: that’s often because they weren’t paying attention. A skilled car accident lawyer will know what to look for and will be able to connect you with accident reconstruction experts who can make the most of both direct and indirect evidence.
Strengthening Your Case
Keep a detailed account of your recollections of the accident as soon as possible after the event. Even if you don’t think you saw anything that would immediately suggest the other driver was distracted, an expert might recognize something from your testimony, so get it all down on paper or voice recording as soon as possible.
In today’s digital age, people often post about their activities, sometimes even while driving. Work with your lawyer to check if the other driver posted on social media around the time of the accident. This information can sometimes be accessed publicly or may be obtained through legal channels during the case.
GPS and Infotainment Systems
Modern vehicles are equipped with GPS and infotainment systems that can store data on their use. An attorney can help retrieve this information, which could show that the driver was interacting with these systems instead of focusing on the road.
Get Expert Help for Your Caldwell, TX and Buffalo, TX Car Accident Lawsuit
Hire an Attorney
An experienced personal injury attorney can be instrumental in helping to prove another driver’s distraction. They know how to work within the Texas legal system and have the resources to gather evidence that may not be readily available to you.
In some cases, accident reconstruction experts can determine whether a driver’s actions were consistent with being distracted. Their testimony can provide a professional evaluation of the accident that supports your claim. Your lawyer will have experts to turn to.
Countering Defense Tactics
Be prepared for the defense to argue against your claims of distraction. Preparation and evidence are crucial in countering these arguments. Using visual aids like diagrams, charts, or even animations can help explain your version of events to a jury in a compelling and understandable way, and an experienced lawyer will know how to put together a compelling story from the evidence that shows what really happened.
Evaluate any settlement offers carefully with your attorney to ensure they cover all of your damages, both immediate and future. Deciding whether to settle or go to trial is a significant decision that should be made based on the strength of your evidence, the likelihood of proving distraction in court, and the advice of your legal counsel.
Proving the other driver was distracted at the time of a car accident can be hard, and it takes experience to assemble the pieces of the puzzle and build a compelling case to support your claim for compensation. If you’ve been in a car accident and know or suspect the other driver was distracted, don’t try to go after them alone. Contact Brian Gutierrez, Personal Injury Trial Lawyer now for a free consultation with an experienced lawyer who will fiercely defend your rights.