According to Texas DOT, distracted drivers account for more than 100,000 car crashes a year in Texas. Texas law now bans talking or texting on your cellphone unless you use a hands-free device. Most distracted driving accidents involve drivers aged 16 to 34 years old. In 2016 there were 455 deaths in Texas caused by distracted drivers. If you have been injured by a distracted driver, contact our Austin distracted driving accident lawyer for a free case review.
What is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving includes any activity that draws the driver’s attention away from driving. The most common forms of distracted driving include:
- Talking on the phone
- Posting or reviewing social media or other websites
- Adjusting the radio or music player
- Interacting with navigation devices
- Checking email
In fact, the US government includes interacting with passengers as distracted driving and releases statistics on accidents where that was a contributing factor.
Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer – Proving liability
A distracted driving accident lawyer may have to obtain phone records, social media logs, or other records that prove the driver’s attention was diverted when he crashed into you. Sometimes we have to file a lawsuit in order to obtain those records, but sometimes the other party will admit to the distraction without the need to file suit.
If you have been injured by a distracted driver you should make notes of how the driver was distracted, keep records of any admissions made by the driver at the scene, note any handheld devices you see the driver holding at the scene, and ask witnesses whether they saw what the driver was doing right before the crash. If you or a witness saw the distracted driver with a handheld device or saw him otherwise distracted, make sure you and the witness tell the police before you leave the scene. The more information the officer has from the scene, the more accurate his report will likely be.
Third-Party Liability in Distracted Driving cases
Not only is the distracted driver liable for the injuries he caused you, but his boss might be as well.
If a company requires their drivers to interact with their phones or devices they may have liability if their driver is distracted and causes an accident. Generally speaking, an employer is responsible for the negligent actions of his employee while the employee is performing tasks on behalf of the employer. So if your boss sends you to the store to pick up supplies, and you get into an accident on the way, your boss might be liable to someone you hurt if you’re involved in an accident on the way.
This type of lawsuit is fairly common, and most often seen in truck accident cases. If a trucker negligently crashes into someone while driving for his company, then the company is generally held responsible. While we handle cases like these every day, each one is different and requires a different set of evidence to prove in court. But, the underlying legal theories are generally the same.
Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer – Products Liability
Another growing trend in lawsuits is the liability of third-party companies for causing distracted driving with the products they sell. Companies like Uber, Lyft, and some technology companies that provide phone apps that distract drivers are being sued for providing unsafe technology. These cases are generally filed as a products liability action.
Companies like Apple have defended claims made against them for distracted driver accidents. Plaintiff’s lawyers have claimed that Apple owes all Americans the duty of providing safe products and that providing products that distract a driver’s attention is an unsafe product. Apple counters they are not responsible when someone uses their product in an unsafe manner. They argue the consumer is responsible to use their Apple products safely. This is likely to become a hotly contested debate as time goes on.
Apple has announced they will roll out a distracted driving feature on the upcoming version of iOS 11 this fall. Families of those killed by distracted drivers have claimed Apple has possessed this technology since 2008, and have argued this is one reason Apple should be held responsible for the death and injuries of people involved in crashes while using Apple products.
So far we haven’t found any successful cases against these companies under this theory of liability, but as the distracted driving disable feature becomes more common on such devices, it is likely that it will become the industry norm. Industry norms are another way a distracted driving accident lawyer can prove a company violated industry standards, and increase the odds of winning a case under a products liability theory.
Advice to parents
We encourage all parents to talk to their kids about distracted driving and model safe driving habits. Disabling your call, message, or email notifications will help young drivers keep their eyes on the road and their attention on driving. Like in most other matters in life, kids will do what they see their parents do no matter what their parents tell them. By having this conversation with your kids, and modeling good habits, you will keep your family safer, and help make Texas roads safer as well.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed by a distracted driver, contact our Austin distracted driver accident Lawyer for a free case evaluation. Our consultations are free, and we represent most of our clients on a contingency basis. You don’t owe us any lawyer fees unless we collect money for you.