Thousands of lives are claimed each year by distracted driving accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Sadly, almost all of these tragic crashes could have been avoided. Thousands of more people suffer serious or even catastrophic injuries that result in disastrous life changes, such as permanent disabilities, paralysis, amputations, disfiguring burns, and spinal cord injuries.
At The Law Offices of Hilda Sibrian, we are devoted fighting for the rights of those who are unjustly injured in distracted driving crashes. When someone else’s carelessness has caused your injuries, Texas law provides specific protections. Contact a Houston distracted driving accident attorney now, and schedule a free consultation to talk about your right to compensation.
What Is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is more than just cellphones. It involves just about anything that takes your eyes and focus off the task of driving. Here are some common examples of distracted driving:
- Maybe the most common and most readily acknowledged threat is cellphone use, in particular texting and driving or surfing the Web while driving. Younger drivers tend to be at the greatest risk, but just about anyone can get carried away with cellphone use while in the driver’s seat.
- Talking on the phone. In 2017, Texas passed legislation banning all handheld devices behind the wheel. This means making a phone call is also illegal if you are using a handheld device to do so. Even though hands-free devices and Bluetooth devices may be legal, your risk of causing a crash increases when any electronic device is used in the car.
- Putting on makeup or grooming. Putting on makeup, checking your hair, or looking at yourself in a mirror while driving are all obviously bad ideas because they take your eyes and concentration off of the road.
- Eating/drinking. When your hands and focus are both preoccupied with eating or drinking while driving, it puts you and others at risk. You will have slower reaction time and less flexibility to respond to hazards on the road. If someone stops abruptly in front of you, it may be very difficult to steer quickly if your hands are full.
- Smoking/vaping. Similar to eating and drinking, when your hands are preoccupied with smoking, lighting a cigarette, or vaping, it makes you less capable of avoiding a crash.
- Messing with dash controls. This is most common with rental vehicles and newly purchased automobiles because drivers may not yet be comfortable with all the controls. It is best to test out the controls before you get on the road. Make sure you are familiar with the operations, and do not try new controls until you have reviewed the owner’s manual.
- Passenger distractions. Passengers can also present dangers. Loud conversations or backseat passengers may redirect the driver’s attention away from the road. This is a particular danger for teen drivers.
- GPS/directions. Although modern GPS devices and cellphone GPS software make it easier to navigate than ever before, these can still present distractions if a driver is attempting to watch the screen or input an address into the display while driving.
Types of Distracted Driving
There are three general forms of behavior that qualify as distracted driving. Each can lead to serious and even deadly crashes in Texas:
- Visual distraction. A visual distraction is anything that takes the driver’s eyes away from the road. These typically include texting, dash controls, and things like makeup.
- Manual distraction. A manual distraction is anything that takes the driver’s hands and controls away from the wheel and the task of operating the motor vehicle. This may include petting an animal or holding food.
- Cognitive distraction. A cognitive distraction is perhaps the most dangerous because it can sneak up on a driver in an insidious fashion. It involves any distraction that takes the driver’s concentration and focuses away from the task of driving. This can include talking on the phone, being fatigued, or daydreaming, as well as in-depth conversations with passengers.
Distracted Driving Accident Injuries
The result of distracted driving is never good. At best, distracted driving accidents typically result in injuries to both the distracted driver and others on the road. At worst, they can be horrible fatalities.
Examples of common injuries include:
- Brain injuries. Minor head injuries can still have serious consequences, such as concussion and traumatic brain injury (TBI). In truth, there is really no such thing as a minor TBI. When a person suffers a serious blow to the head, with or without loss of consciousness, it is serious. TBIs can have lasting effects on a person’s well-being for years to come.
- Spinal cord injuries. Any spinal cord injury is serious. Depending on whether it is a complete or incomplete injury and wherein the spine it happens, a spinal cord injury can leave a victim permanently paralyzed and disabled.
- Wrongful death. Fatal injuries are common in Houston distracted driving accidents. When a close loved one is killed in a crash caused by a distracted driver, the surviving family members may have additional rights to compensation.
Distracted Driving Laws in Texas
- The State of Texas has outlawed texting and driving across the entire state.
- Teen drivers are prohibited from any electronic device use, even handheld.
- Local municipal governments can pass stricter ordinances as forms of distracted driving prevention.
- Every driver should contact his or her own local government and do some distracted driving research to stay educated about local rules.
Distracted Driving Statistics
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, there are more than half a million car crashes in the state each year. As many as 19 percents of these crashes, including many fatalities, can be directly linked to distracted driving.
Sources like Teensafe.com suggest that more than half of all crashes involving teens may involve some form of distracted driving. Plus, teenagers are as much as three times more likely to be involved in a distracted driving accident than any other age group of the driver.
How Our Distracted Driving Accident Lawyers Can Help You
After a serious crash, our Houston distracted driving attorneys get to work right away, putting everything we have into building your case. The car accident attorney assigned to your case will have years of experience dealing with aggressive insurance tactics. This means you can take comfort in knowing your rights are protected from the very start.
At The Law Offices of Hilda Sibrian, we know that these types of accidents should never happen. After all, there are plenty of simple options for learning how to prevent distracted driving collisions. Drivers can download applications that lock their phones while driving, they can turn off their phone while driving, or they can simply exercise self-control. So when you or a loved one are injured by a distracted driver, there is no excuse.
Still, there is a good chance the insurance company will try to minimize or deny compensation for your injuries. This is why you need a skilled distracted driving attorney today. Here are some of the ways we can help:
- Extensive research into your case. Our firm will carefully work to gather evidence and negotiate with the insurance company in order to help you pursue full compensation through an out-of-court settlement. Sometimes this works, and sometimes a trial might be necessary. Either way, we prepare each case with the understanding that it could go to trial.
- Experienced trial lawyers. By having a team of skilled litigators at your side, you can be confident that you are getting a fair deal. If the insurance company is unreasonable, we are here to help. We have helped many clients leverage their options through settlements and jury trials, so if the insurance company will not pay, we will not hesitate to take the case to trial.
- Uninsured motorist cases. Sadly, a lot of drivers do not bother to carry the legally required insurance coverage mandated by Texas law. When this happens, there can be a lot of confusion about how victims should pay for medical bills and make up for lost income. Fortunately, our attorneys also know exactly how to handle these uninsured or underinsured motorist claims. We will explain your options for filing a claim with your own insurance company for the damages you have suffered.
- Regular and confidential communications. Perhaps the most important part of having a Houston distracted driving lawyer on your side is having someone to talk to about the key issues of your case. As things come up, you are going to have questions. Our attorneys are great at providing clear and understandable communications to clients.
If you have been involved in a Houston distracted driving accident, contact The Law Offices of Hilda Sibrian today. The consultation is free, and we’ll only charge an attorney fee if we are successful in recovering money for you. But time is limited, so act now.