San Antonio Distracted Driving Lawyer
Our Lawyers Fight for Victims of Distracted Drivers
Approximately nine people are killed and more than 1,000 people are injured every day in distracted driving accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control. There is no doubt that distracted drivers have become a huge problem. In some areas, distracted driving has overtaken drunk driving as the number one cause of accidents. One of the most tragic realities about these accidents is that they are some of the most preventable crashes on the roads.
Many people think distracted driving only involves texting and driving. However, there are many other distractions that can take a driver’s focus off the road. When that happens and an accident occurs, those hurt by a distracted driver can file a claim for compensation. It’s essential for those hurt in these types of crashes to speak with a Texas distracted driving accident attorney as soon as possible.
Types of Distractions While Driving
There are three categories of distracted driving, according to the AAA Foundation. These are visual, manual, and cognitive distracted driving.
- Visual distracted driving occurs any time a driver takes his or her eyes off the road. Even if a driver keeps his or her hands on the wheel but looks down at a phone, or turns around to look in the back seat, it is a form of visual distracted driving.
- Manual distracted driving refers to drivers taking their hands off the wheel for any reason. Whether it’s to change the radio station or pick something up off the floor, if a driver takes his or her hands off the wheel, it usually means the driver was distracted.
- Cognitive distracted driving occurs any time a driver takes his or her mind off the road. This type of distracted driving is particularly difficult to detect. Drivers may have their hands on the wheel and be looking straight ahead at the road in front of them, but they are not concentrating on what they are doing.
Top Distractions While Driving
Any number of activities can constitute distracted driving. Some of the most common distractions while driving include:
- Daydreaming: This is, by far, the most common form of distracted driving. Drivers tend to get lost in thought and take their focus from the road.
- Cellphone use: Talking or texting on a cellphone is certainly a distraction, but so is even looking down at it.
- Outside factors: There are many things happening on the road around the driver. Accidents, signs, people in cars, and pedestrians are just a few of the things that can distract a driver from the road.
- Passengers: Passengers who are talking, moving around the car, or playing loud music can be distracting to a driver.
- Reaching: It may seem innocent to reach for something that fell inside the vehicle, but to do this, drivers must take their eyes off the road and their hand off the wheel.
- Eating and drinking: When eating and driving, people try to avoid spills and open packages, which is all very distracting. Even placing a cup in a cup holder can be a significant distraction.
- Adjusting controls: Adjusting the radio station, climate control, or anything else while the vehicle is in motion takes a driver’s eyes, and focus, off the road in front of them.
- Moving objects: Most people don’t expect things to move around in the car and take their attention from the road. However, an unexpected bug in the car or an unsettled pet can easily cause a dangerous distraction.
While these are common types of distracted driving, there’s one reason for all of them. Drivers become complacent and don’t see an issue with multitasking while driving.
Is Distracted Driving a Criminal Offense in Texas?
When a person is hurt by a distracted driver, the victim can file a claim against the at-fault driver for compensation. In addition to this, though, distracted drivers may sometimes face criminal charges in Texas.
Not all forms of distracted driving in Texas are illegal, but texting and driving is. It has been since Sept. 1, 2017. In fact, any driver caught using a handheld device for any reason can be charged with distracted driving. Drivers can use their phones in hands-free mode to listen to music, navigate their GPS, and call someone. Texting and driving is a misdemeanor in Texas, which means anyone convicted of it will have a permanent criminal record. The penalty is a fine between $25 and $99, although repeat offenders could face fines as high as $200.
When drivers cause serious injury or death while texting and driving, they can face fines as steep as $4,000. They may even spend up to one year in jail. Those convicted of criminally negligent homicide or vehicular manslaughter face much harsher penalties, including several years in prison.
What to Do If You Were a Victim of a Distracted Driver?
After being hit by a distracted driver, you should take the following steps to protect yourself and your right to compensation:
- First and foremost, call for medical attention and report the accident to police.
- While you’re waiting for emergency personnel to arrive at the scene, exchange information with the other driver. You should get the driver’s insurance information, contact information, license plate number, and driver’s license number.
- If you can, you should take pictures of the accident scene and locate eyewitnesses to collect their contact information. Witnesses are invaluable during an accident claim.
- You will need to speak to your insurance company after an accident, even if you weren’t at fault for the accident. Before you do, though, you should speak to an attorney. An attorney can manage communication with the insurance company, yours and that of the at-fault driver, throughout the duration of your case.
Talk to a Distracted Driving Lawyer Now
If you have been hurt by a distracted driver, you need a knowledgeable Texas car accident lawyer. At Ketterman Rowland & Westlund, we have the necessary experience and resources to prove another driver was distracted and that they caused your accident. These cases are extremely challenging, and insurance companies don’t want to pay what you’re entitled to receive. Don’t try to handle this on your own. Contact us today for your free consultation.