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Hurt in Houston- Distracted Driving
Accidents can happen for a bunch of reasons. Sometimes they are unavoidable. But most wrecks are the result of distracted drivers.
Distracted driving is doing anything other than driving while operating a motor vehicle. Most drivers do it. Some examples of everyday distracted driving are
- Changing the radio
- Talking to passengers
- Talking on the phone
- Using navigation systems
People do these things all the time. Most of the time, nothing happens. Sometimes, being distracted causes an accident.
Is Distracted Driving Illegal?
Not all distracted driving is illegal. You can usually sip a soda or change the radio without breaking the law. However, circumstances matter. Even these activities may be reckless and dangerous if you are in a hazardous situation.
Using your phone while driving is always dangerous. It can also be illegal. It is against the law to
- Text while driving
- Use email while driving
- Use phones or handheld devices in school zones
- Use a cell phone while driving if you have a learner’s permit
- Use handheld devices while driving if you are under 18
- Use a cell phone if you are a school bus driver and kids are on your bus
In Texas, people cite speeding as the number one cause of accidents. Distracted driving is number two. However, we think distracted driving is the actual number one cause. Drivers who speed can also be distracted. Plus, proving distracted driving is more complex than proving speeding.
Distracted driving is more dangerous than drunk driving. It helps contribute to Texas’s deadly roads.
How Do We Prove Fault In Distracted Driving Cases?
There is no way to put this politely. People lie. Many times distracted drivers deny being distracted. They might even say you caused the wreck.
We do not always have to prove they were distracted. We only have to prove they were negligent. In other words, we must prove their actions, not what caused them.
What does that mean? If someone ran into you, we do not have to show why they did it. On the other hand, proving that a driver was distracted can help establish negligence. So, we may subpoena phone records or talk to witnesses from their vehicles. That can help us prove that the driver was doing things other than driving.
How to Avoid Distracted Driving
If you are here for info, we can help. These tips can help you avoid being a distracted driver.
- Turn off your phone while you are in the car.
- Pull over to a safe place and park if you need to make a call.
- Do not multi-task while driving.
- Do not eat while driving.
- Do not get dressed in the car.
- Do not put on makeup or do your hair in the car.
- Watch the road, and pull over if you want to see the scenery.
- Pull over if you are drowsy.
- Make any adjustments before you start driving.
Has a Distracted Driver Hurt You?
If a distracted driver hurts you, we can help. Contact the Salazar Law Firm today. We will schedule a no-obligation consultation.
During our consultation, we review
- Facts of the case
- Other damages
With that information, we can give you a reasonable estimate of your case’s value. Then, you know whether a settlement offer is fair. If not, we can help you fight for what you deserve.
Who Gets Hurt in Drunk Driving Accidents?
You may have heard drunk drivers are less likely to be seriously injured than their sober victims. That is true. Drunk drivers are less likely to tense up before a crash. That leads to fewer injuries and fatalities. It is not unusual for a drunk driver to walk away from a fatal collision with nothing more than scrapes and bruises.
What Are the Consequences of Drunk Driving?
In Texas, the consequences for DUI (Driving Under the Influence) and DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) can be pretty minor. While even first offenders can get jail time, a substantial fine, and a suspended license, many courts are lenient. Offenders can often avoid conviction by participating in a drug or alcohol rehab program.
A second DUI barely increases the stakes. It is only upon the third DUI conviction that things get serious, with a potential penalty of up to 10 years in jail.
However, there are other consequences of a drunk driving conviction. It can impact employment, child custody, and auto insurance rates, to name a few things. So, many drivers fight hard to avoid DUI convictions. That means our roads are full of people who should not be driving.
What Are the Consequences of a Drunk Driving Accident?
While the consequences for drunk driving may not seem strong enough, those for causing a drunk driving accident are more severe.
Causing serious injuries to another because of drunk driving is called intoxication assault. It is at least a third-degree felony, resulting in a hefty fine and a prison sentence of up to 10 years, even as a first offense.
Intoxication manslaughter is a second-degree felony, with a sentence of up to 20 years and a hefty fine.
Even if the driver only injures property, they could face additional charges. There is no specific DUI statute related to property damage. However, the state can charge them with reckless damage in addition to the DUI charge.
Many drunk drivers will flee the scene of an accident. That can result in additional charges.
Why Are Drunk Driving Cases Complicated?
Because the stakes are high, most drunk drivers will fight any claim you make against them. Many of them will face criminal charges. The criminal justice system is often slower than the civil justice system. However, the state can use their admissions in a criminal trial. For that reason, they may
- Deny responsibility
- Claim not to remember the event
- Deny being intoxicated
- Blame you for the accident
How Can Drunk Drivers Deny Being Intoxicated?
Many people believe that all drunk drivers are immediately tested at the scene of an accident. In Texas, officers can ask people to take a chemical test to determine intoxication. If the driver refuses, the officer can get a search warrant that allows them to take a specimen. However, if a driver delays the process, their BAC level may not be above 0.08 percent when tested.
Drivers do not even have to delay testing intentionally. Even in urban areas, there can be substantial time between when an accident occurs and when help arrives. First responders’ first job is to provide aid to injured people. So, it could easily be an hour or more between the time of the accident and the time of the BAC test. In rural areas, it could be hours before anyone discovers the accident.
In addition, drunk drivers often flee the scene of the accident. Remember, those drivers are less likely than their victims to suffer serious injuries. They may drive away from the accident or flee the scene on foot. Even if they leave their car behind, it may be hours or days before the police catch up with them. By that time, a BAC test is useless.
When an officer arrests someone suspected of driving while intoxicated, they will ask the driver to take a chemical test. The test determines whether the individual has alcohol and/or drugs in their system. In a standard DWI matter, drivers can refuse to participate.
If you are in a DWI-related accident, the officer will request that you submit to a chemical test. However, if you refuse, the officer will get a search warrant ordering you to provide a specimen.
Are Drunk Drivers Always at Fault?
You may think that as long as you can prove the other driver was intoxicated, you will automatically win your case. However, intoxication is only one factor in determining fault. So, you should be prepared for the drunk driver to try to blame you.
Can I Recover from a Drunk Driver if I Was Also Intoxicated?
Yes. If the other driver caused the accident, your intoxication would not keep you from recovering. However, it will make your case more difficult to prove.
What Type of Damages Can I Get In a Drunk Driving Case?
You can recover the same damages in a drunk driving case as in other auto accidents.
- Medical care
- Lost Wages
- Long-term care
- Pain and suffering
- Lost earning capacity
- Reduced quality of life
- Damages to your property
However, drunk driving accidents also allow you to collect punitive damages. Usually, damages make you whole. In other words, they repay you for current and future expenses. They also put a dollar value on things like lifelong injuries. Punitive damages are different. They punish the defendant. Punitive damages are not generally available to car accident victims. However, they are available in drunk driving accidents.
Who Pays In a Drunk Driving Claim?
You may have heard that insurance will not pay a drunk driving claim. That is true but misleading. If you are a drunk driver, your insurer will probably deny your claims under collision or comprehensive coverage plans. However, liability insurance will cover damages to other parties, even if the driver is drunk. So, if the driver is insured, their insurance company will pay.
The problem is that many drunk drivers are not insured. They are often repeat offenders. Insurance rates increase with each drunk driving offense. In addition, they cannot get insurance with a suspended license. So, you may discover that they are uninsured.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
The good news is that you probably have uninsured motorist coverage. When you sign up for auto insurance in Texas, the company offers you uninsured motorist coverage. You have to specifically decline it in writing. So, the odds are high that you have this coverage.
Claiming uninsured motorist coverage is not the same as claiming comprehensive policies. You are not at fault, and your insurance rates should not increase.
The bad news is that most uninsured motorist policies are relatively small. Your policy may not be enough to pay to replace your vehicle, much less cover any medical or other expenses.
How Else Can I Recover?
You have two other ways to recover if the drunk driver is not insured.
First, you can sue the drunk driver personally. Often, if someone does not have insurance, they do not have any assets. That makes a lawsuit merely a symbolic gesture. However, some drunk drivers may not have insurance because of suspended licenses. We can always investigate to see if they have the assets to make a lawsuit worthwhile.
Another alternative is to sue under dram shop laws. Under dram shop laws, if a business sells alcohol to an impaired person, the business may be liable if that person gets into a drunk driving accident. The accident only applies to businesses. Social hosts are not responsible for guests that drink too much.
Recovering from a severe accident can be expensive. We help you make the responsible party pay. Contact The Salazar Law Firm for a free no-obligation consultation. We will evaluate your claim and let you know whether or not you have a strong case.