Determining Fault in a Texting and Driving Car Accident in Texas
Texting and driving can be a dangerous activity behind the wheel. If another driver was texting and driving when they hit you, it’s likely that they were at fault for the accident. However, the rules can be more complex if you were texting and driving while another dangerous driver hit you. If you need legal help with your texting and driving car accident case, contact the Arlington, TX car accident lawyers at The Queenan Law Firm today.
Texting and Driving Laws in Texas
Throughout Texas, it is illegal to text and drive. This includes not only reading and writing text messages but also reading or writing any other text-based messages on your cell phone. That means that posting to social media or checking your emails is also illegal behind the wheel.
Texas introduced these rules in late 2017 as a way to combat distracted driving. According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), distracted driving is a cause in one out of every 5 car crashes and is the cause of many deadly car crashes. This law helps prevent texting behind the wheel by creating a fine for texting while driving – and an even harsher fine if the texting causes an accident.
This law does not stop people from using their phones for other activities. Drivers can browse their contacts, make calls with a hands-free device, use their cell phone for navigation, or use it as a music player. They can also make calls to 9-1-1 and may answer texts if they think it’s an emergency.
Determining Fault in a Car Accident in Texas
Because texting and driving is illegal, it can be used as a key factor in determining fault in a car accident or truck accident. Like laws against speeding, running a red light, and other traffic laws, Texas’ texting and driving ban is designed to keep other drivers safe. This means that a violation of this rule can help prove fault in a car accident.
The victim of a car accident must prove their case in court (or to the insurance company) to show that the other driver was at fault. To prove your case, you must show 4 elements:
- The other driver owed you a duty;
- The other driver breached that duty;
- That breach caused your injuries; and
- You suffered injuries the court can compensate you for (known as “damages”).
In many traffic accident cases, traffic laws help show the first two elements of duty and breach. You can point to laws like speed limits or texting bans to demonstrate what the duty was (i.e. to follow the law), and that the other driver breached their duty (i.e. by breaking the law). With the texting and driving law, any driver who was texting while the accident occurred could be considered to have breached their duty and could be considered partly at-fault for the accident.
If there isn’t a law directly on-point, the duty is usually the duty to drive with the proper care and skill that a reasonably prudent driver would use. That may mimic the requirements of many laws, since the average driver should drive the speed limit, stay in their lane, use their blinkers, and keep their eyes on the road. Driving while staring at a text message or Facebook post would likely violate that duty, even without a statute on point.
Can I Sue if I Was Partially At Fault for a Car Accident?
If one person was breaking traffic laws while the other driver was following every appropriate rule and regulation, a car accident case is easy to figure out. However, in many cases the facts are far more complex.
Even with texting and driving, the rules are not always a clear deciding factor, especially if both drivers broke laws. If you took your eyes off the road to read a text, but the other driver was drunk, speeding, and running a red light in Texas, it is clear that they are at fault. However, a court may still consider you partly at fault for the accident if you were also violating traffic laws or texting while driving.
Texas uses a “modified comparative fault rule” for assigning blame. This means that a jury decides who was at fault for the accident and assigns them each a portion of the blame, as a percentage. If you were 51% at fault or more, you cannot recover damages – but as long as you are 50% liable or less, you can still sue the other driver and recover damages. However, your damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault (e.g. a 10% reduction if you were 10% at-fault).
Texas Texting and Driving Accident Lawyers Offering Free Consultations
If you or a loved one was injured in an accident that involved texting and driving in Texas, talk to an attorney at The Queenan Law Firm today. Our Arlington, TX personal injury lawyer represents the victims of car accidents, including texting and driving accidents, and fight to get them the compensation they need for their injuries. For a free consultation on your case, call our law offices today at (817) 476-1797.