Distracted Driving Accident Attorney in Houston
A significant majority of American drivers believe distracted driving is dangerous and support laws against it, according to a survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Drivers know it’s bad, but they still do it. Distracted driving continues to be a leading cause of traffic accidents in Texas and throughout the United States.
If you were injured in a Houston distracted driving accident, you have the right to demand compensation for your losses in a personal injury claim. Our distracted driving car accident lawyers can help determine the potential value of your case and seek accountability from the negligent driver on your behalf.
At Pines & Goldenzweig, PLLC, our compassionate attorneys understand how devastating a distracted driving accident can be for your health, your job, and your finances. Allow us to ease that burden by handling every detail of your claim while you focus on your recovery.
Contact us today to learn more in a free consultation.
What Is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is operating a vehicle while focused on any distracting, non-driving activity. Many different activities can divert a driver’s attention from the road, such as using a cell phone, interacting with passengers, and manipulating entertainment system settings.
Driving while distracted is dangerous because safe driving requires full concentration. Studies by reputable organizations such as the Cleveland Clinic show that most people can’t multitask effectively. Our performance worsens as we attempt to switch back and forth between tasks. Drivers must eliminate all distractions to remain focused and drive safely.
Although almost anything can compromise a driver’s abilities if they choose to focus on it, most distractions can be sorted into one or more of the three following categories:
- Visual distractions, which cause drivers to take their eyes away from the road ahead
- Manual distractions, which lead drivers to remove their hands from the steering wheel
- Cognitive distractions, which take a driver’s mind away from the task of driving safely
Experts say texting is one of the most hazardous driving distractions because it involves all three categories. Drivers must use their eyes, hands, and critical thinking skills to read or send a text message.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it takes approximately five seconds to read or send the average text message. It doesn’t sound like much, but that’s long enough to drive the length of a football field while traveling at just 55 miles per hour. Imagine choosing to do so with your eyes closed.
Common Forms of Driving Distractions
Texting while driving is extremely unsafe, but it’s far from the only dangerous driving distraction. Other common forms of driving distractions include:
- Talking on the phone – Even using hands-free phones can be unsafe because conversations are cognitive distractions. If you need to make a call, it’s always safest to pull over first.
- Adjusting GPS or vehicle controls – Many drivers use GPS to navigate, and modern vehicles come with an array of buttons and screens that operate all sorts of features. Adjusting GPS directions, climate controls, or radio stations behind the wheel is a risky distraction.
- Personal grooming – Checking your reflection in vanity mirrors, combing your hair, shaving, or applying makeup can distract your eyes, hands, and mind from the task at hand: driving.
- Eating or drinking – Many drivers think nothing of enjoying a morning coffee or a quick lunch while commuting. Unfortunately, eating or drinking while driving is a hazardous manual distraction that could cause a crash.
- Tending to passengers – Whether you have a child, adult, or pet in the car with you, you should never pay more attention to them than to the road. This includes turning to look at passengers, reaching into the backseat, or becoming absorbed in passenger conversations.
- Rubbernecking – Rubbernecking means staring at something outside of your vehicle, such as a flashy ad or traffic accident. This type of visual distraction can easily cause drivers to crash.
Compensation for a Victim of a Houston Distracted Driving Accident
The amount and types of compensation you could receive from a distracted driving car accident claim vary based on several factors, including the severity of the crash and your injuries. Money could be awarded to accident victims for losses such as:
- Medical bills associated with accident-related injuries
- Out-of-pocket costs for incidental expenses, such as transportation to medical appointments and home accessibility modifications
- Repair or replacement costs for your car or other damaged property
- Lost wages for missed work and lost future earning potential, if you’re unable to return to your previous job
- Physical pain, emotional suffering, and mental anguish associated with your injuries
If you were partially responsible for the wreck, it could affect your compensation. Under Texas comparative negligence laws, the money you receive for a distracted driving claim can be reduced in proportion to your percentage of fault.
Let’s say you were entitled to $10,000 in compensation for your losses after a distracted driving accident, but you were found 20 percent responsible for the crash. That would mean the most you could receive would be 80 percent of the total, or $8,000.
Texas law also states that you can’t recover compensation if you are found more than 50 percent at fault. A seasoned attorney like ours at Pines & Goldenzweig, PLLC, can help protect you from unfounded accusations of fault.
Proving Driver Distraction Caused a Crash
Distracted driving claims are separate from any criminal penalties a distracted driver may face. That means that even if the other driver was convicted of distracted driving charges, you and your lawyer would need to prove that their distracted driving directly contributed to your injuries to recover compensation.
That’s not always easy. An experienced distracted driving accident attorney can support your claim by identifying and preserving valuable evidence of the other driver’s negligence, such as:
- The police report – Police accident reports contain a wealth of potentially useful information, including details about others involved in the crash, traffic citations issued by police, and the responding law enforcement officer’s official opinion regarding who was at fault.
- Photos and video footage – If photos or videos of the accident exist, it might be possible to detect evidence of distraction, such as footage of a driver looking at a cell phone instead of the road.
- Eyewitness statements – Statements from witnesses could be extremely useful if anyone noticed the other driver’s distraction or other error before the crash.
- Accident reconstruction – Many lawyers work with expert accident reconstruction specialists, who analyze the evidence and create reports to substantiate what happened in the moments before a crash.
- Cell phone records – During the discovery process, your attorney can request the other driver’s cell phone records to look for evidence of texting or phone use while driving. In some cases, it’s necessary to file a subpoena to compel the other side to provide the records.
Statistics on Accidents & Injuries Caused by Distracted Driving
It’s easy to understand why distracted driving is dangerous, but the following distracted driving statistics prove the true impact of this irresponsible behavior:
- According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), eight people are killed every day in distracted driving crashes. On average, more than 3,000 people have died every year since 2010 due to distracted driving.
- Approximately 20 percent of those killed in distracted driving accidents are pedestrians, cyclists, or other people not in vehicles at the time of the crash.
- Teen and young adult drivers are especially high-risk groups for distracted driving, and 15- to 19-year-olds are most likely to drive while distracted of all age groups. Nine percent of all teen traffic fatalities involve distracted driving.
- Data from the Insurance Information Institute (III) suggest cellphone use was a factor in 13 percent of all fatal distracted driving crashes.
- According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), there were 80,451 distracted driving crashes throughout the state of Texas in one recent year.
- In Harris County, there were 10,085 distracted driving crashes that year, the second-highest rate in all Texas. These accidents accounted for more than 12 percent of the state total.
- There were 327 fatal distracted driving crashes throughout Texas, resulting in 368 fatalities. Harris County documented 14 deaths that year, the fifth-highest fatality rate in the entire state.
Contact Our Experienced Houston Distracted Driving Accident Attorneys
The distracted driving accident attorneys of Pines & Goldenzweig, PLLC, can begin work on your claim immediately, at no charge to you. Since we use a contingency fee system, we handle all upfront case costs. We get paid only if we recover money for you.
Right now, the most important thing you can do is take care of yourself. Let us handle the rest. Contact us today to discuss the details of your claim with our dedicated team in a free case review.