Across the United States to date, the ubiquitous presence and inherent danger related to cell phone use on the road, whether texting or talking, has led legislators in forty-four (44) states to implement bans and ordinances and criminal penalties for driving while distracted due to a cell phone or smartphone device. Like other motor vehicle violations as part of an accident event, texting while driving infractions may be grounds to file suit or argue on behalf of increased liability for negligent driver engaged in serious traffic violations known to distract drivers, and while greatly increasing the risk of an accident for the texting individual but also increasing the risks for other drivers, pedestrians, and passengers.
The Unpredictable Impact of Local Laws on Texting and Driving Lawsuits
When establishing negligence or civil liability, showing some element of criminality in the conduct of another party prior to an incident causing an accident is helpful from a civil law standpoint, as numerous local laws deploy anti-texting and ant-cell phone ordinances, which if violated carry anywhere from $200 to $500 in traffic fines, but the traffic violation and distracted driving leading to an accident may subject a defendant to strict or enhanced forms of liability in certain texting while driving lawsuits. However, municipal jurisdiction and the jurisdiction of local ordinances is often unclear and ultimately subject to the determination of law enforcement regarding ticketing drivers at the scene of an accident.
States and Local Laws Widely Vary, as Do the Statutes of Limitations in Texting and Driving Lawsuits
To date in the state of Texas, officials estimate that distractions by way of phone caused 459 deaths in the past year, with accidents linked to texting while driving reaching as high as 95.000 different auto crashes in the state of Texas alone in 2015. However, the state of Texas lacks a universal, state-wide ban on texting while driving, only restricting permit drivers and those drivers under the age of eighteen (18), drivers involving in bussing students of public schools, and outright bans all cellphone use for all drivers in Texas’ school zones.
The statutes of limitation in Texas, like all other states and tort claims, will vary regarding the applicable statutes of limitation period that a viable claims case can be made, however, in the bulk of claims emanating from a cause of action in texting while driving causing damages.
Certain states have already seen case law and legislation stating that employees of companies, even if receiving business calls or personal calls, may create a liability for their employer and company provided mile device or work related call, which is ultimately held as a partial or proximate cause of an accident causing injury by way of negligently operating a car while texting or talking on an employer-owned phone.
Proving Texting While Driving Is Not Incredibly Difficult, but Having Legal Counsel Helps
In many car crash cases, determining the fault of the parties involved, or the proportion of responsibility each party incurs a liability for the total damages of the accidents is resolved via insurance companies. Should a driver feel that their liability stemming from a proposed auto accident settlement does not include the inherent risk and probability of cause relating to the use of the wireless device, legal counsel is recommended/ Likewise, should a driver face damages or losses that are in excess of those recoverable under an auto insurance provider’s liability coverage, filing claims in civil courts against other responsible parties may be possible with the help of legal counsel.
How Legal Counsel Can Help Begin a Texting and Driving Accident Lawsuit
However, in various cases, car crashes may require filing suit to obtain appropriate compensation for losses. Providing documents or evidence of impairment of another party by way of use of a cell phone device will reliably ensure that a significant degree of fault most likely will be ascribed to the negligent vehicle operator, with some states imposing harsher rules on the imposition of liability for negligence claims arising from criminal acts, while conferring on defendant’s the right to seek punitive damages in certain cases. Should the law enforcement report not include specific citations or notations on the cell phone use of another driver, witnesses’ statements may be helpful. But with the help of legal counsel, most digital communications have a time-stamped delivery date, which can be found and augment a claims case for a plaintiff seeking compensations for damages sustained in a car accident involving a texting or talking driver.