Car accidents caused by distracted driving, often by someone using their cell phone, are a serious danger here in Austin and throughout Texas. In fact, distracted drivers caused over three thousand car accidents last year in Texas alone. While there are other forms or causes of distracted driving, the large majority of car crashes caused by distracted driving are due to cell phone use. While this problem is more prevalent among younger drivers, it is a significant problem across all demographics.
If you were recently involved in a car accident and you believe or suspect the other driver was using their cell phone at the time of the crash or distracted for some other reason, the experienced accident and injury attorneys at Sandoval & James can help. Feel free to contact us to better understand your rights, consultations are completely free.
The Danger of Using a Cell Phone While Driving
Cell phone use while driving causes numerous unnecessary car accidents every year. Unfortunately, these unnecessary crashes are often severe, commonly resulting in serious injuries or death. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), cell phone use and other forms of distracted driving killed 2,841 in 2018 alone. This includes 1,730 drivers, 605 passengers, 400 pedestrians, and 77 bicyclists that were all killed by distracted drivers.
Even though they make up only a small portion of the drivers on Texas roadways, statistics have shown that cell phone use while driving is far more prevalent among teenage drivers. Cell phone use combined with that lack of overall driving experience among teenage drives means they are not only more likely to be using their cell phone while driving but also more likely to cause a crash when they do so.
Due to the danger distracted driving presents, Texas recently passed laws making it a crime to any electronic messages while driving. While the penalty for texting while driving is relatively minor, a misdemeanor with a fine between $25 and $99 and up to $200 for repeat offenders, if someone causes a crash while texting and driving, the consequences could be much more serious. For example, if they cause a car accident resulting in serious injury or death, they could be fined up to $4,000 and spend one year in jail. It’s possible they could also be charged with criminally negligent homicide or vehicular manslaughter, both of which could result in even large fines and longer sentences.
This law bans not only texting while driving but also using other apps to send or receive messages, such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Tik Tok. Texas does allow for some limited use of a cell phone while driving, including the use of hands-free functions and GPS. However, looking at or operating a cell phone, even for these limited purposes while driving is still illegal and, more importantly, dangerous. This means that activating the hands-free or GPS on your phone must be done while the vehicle is stopped.
What to do After a Car Accident with Someone on Their Cell Phone
If you were hurt or injured after a car accident with someone who may have been on their cell phone and you are still at the scene of the crash, you should contact the police and report your suspicions to them right away. This may prompt the police to investigate whether the other driver was in fact using his phone. If the police cite or arrest the other drive for using his phone, it can help you establish that the other driver was the one who caused the crash. For more information on what to do at the scene of a car accident visit our page for further reading
If you believe you were in a crash with someone on their cell phone, it is also important that you speak with an attorney right away. An experienced injury attorney will notify the other driver and his insurance company of the driver’s duty to preserve his cell phone and related records so that you can later prove he was using the phone if needed. It is important to speak with an attorney even if you believe you were responsible for the crash. If the other driver was on their phone in an illegal way (other than hands-free or GPS), they may be liable for the crash even when they would normally not have been.
There are other factors that can impact who is liable for a crash involving cell phone use or other types of distracted driving. For example, if the person using their phone during the crash was working, their employer may also be responsible for the injuries caused by the crash. This is particularly true if the employer knew or should have known that their employee used their phone while driving. An experienced accident and injury attorney can help you determine who was responsible for a crash involving someone on their cell phone.
If you have been in a car accident that was caused by a distracted driver and are looking for an attorney, feel free to contact Sandoval & James. If you are comfortable coming into our office, we would be happy to sit down and discuss your matter. You can also give us a call and we will try to answer any questions that you may have. Initial consultations are completely free.